To bastardise a language is to corrupt or debase it thereby lowering its quality and character. This happens every time a congratulatory message is published containing the very common, but very wrong ‘amhlope’.
Although it may seem to be a small thing, in actual fact the opposite is quite true. To illustrate, consider an instruction manual where all references to a chock, used to prevent heavy objects from moving, have the ‘h’ omitted. From a minor blunder, major consequences result.
It’s one thing when the misspelt word makes the occasional appearance in the press. That can be excused and put down to a few people who are yet to know better. However, looking at the situation as it stands, we are facing a national pandemic where the affliction is linguistic ignorance.
Here’s the thing. There’s a whole bunch of Chief Marketing gurus, PROs and other comms. experts who are blindly copying from each other and perpetuating this misspelling. It’s like nobody has bothered to check how to write the word correctly, which is illogical when using a language one is not fluent in. And as a result, I often find myself paging through some or other congratulatory supplement, cringing at every sight of the unsightly error.
Thankfully, these circumstances are nothing a little care can’t fix. Media professionals who are careful ensure that there aren’t any spelling or other mistakes to reduce their credibility and that of their written work. Further to this, Zimbabweans who care work towards the preservation of their heritage, which includes SiNdebele, one of our official languages. If we can be so diligent when using the Queen’s English, why not show care with our own languages? And if we don’t care to care, who shall?
Without going into a lesson on the orthography of SiNdebele, know that the word ‘amhlophe’ is spelt correctly when it has two letter ‘hs’ in it. The first is flamboyant and creates a distinctive sound which gives the word character. The second ‘h’ is modest and serves to give the letter ‘p’ the ability to pack a purposeful punch!