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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Ukuhlonipha' as idiom of moral reasoning in Mpondo
Author:Kuckertz, HeinzISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Xhosa language
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020189708707879
Abstract:The expression 'ukuhlonipha', which translates into English as 'to respect', is commonly used in both the Sotho and the Nguni linguistic traditions. Through a line-by-line conversation analysis, the present author inquires into the concept of 'ukuhlonipha' in Mpondo-Xhosa, one of the Southern Nguni dialects. The relevant conversation was recorded in July 1979 during fieldwork in Caguba, a village of Western Mpondoland, South Africa. It lasted little more than six minutes, at the begining of a certain beer drinking ceremony. The first three steps of the conversation were characterized by certain speech patterns, consisting of overlapping utterances, strategic silence and speaking in 'repeated phrases'. This conversationally bounded language pushed the argument towards a moral decision as it relativized the significance of ceremonial rules and showed that 'ukuhlonipha' as avoidance is the idiom and model for expressing the dignity of any person. The term 'ukuhlonipha' is thus revealed as a vernacular term of Mpondo-Xhosa available for moral reasoning rather than as an expression of morality itself. The assumption that 'ukuhlonipha' should be understood as a function of kinship and seniority can no longer be maintained. Rather, 'ukuhlonipha' is used to think about the content and form of human relations in an ultimate sense. Bibliogr., notes, ref.