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A Video and Text Documentation of Mangetti Dune !Xung


Language Mangetti Dune !Xung (ISO639-3:), Vasakela (ISO639-3:vaj), !Xun (ISO639-3:ktz)
Depositor Amanda Miller
Affiliation Ohio State University
Location Namibia
Collection ID 0286
Grant ID SG0123
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

This collection is the result of a language documentation project on Mangetti Dune !Xung, a Ju-+Hoan language spoken in multi-ethnic north-eastern Namibia and in Schmittsdrift, South Africa. The community originally lived in Angola but fled from there during the Angolan civil war. This collection includes video and text recordings of the language that were gathered and prepared using the Basic Oral Language Documentation (BOLD) method of documentation.


Group represented

Mangetti Dune Communal Authority

Speakers of the northern branch of the Juu subgroup of the Ju-+Hoan language family originally resided in southern Angola. Due to civil war in Angola, many of these !Xung people have been killed, or assimilated into the larger Bantu groups. It is not known if there are any remaining !Xung speakers in Angola. The researcher refers to the language spoken by these!Xung people as M.D. !Xung, based on the current location of the majority of the speakers in Mangetti Dune, Namibia.These people fled Angola, and were originally working for the South African army as trackers at the South African Armybases in Omega and Mangetti Dune, Namibia. The M.D. !Xung people did not have the right to hunt using traditional means when they moved to Mangetti Dune. Also, due to the low water table in Mangetti Dune, there are few animals residing in this area, making hunting efforts futile. Thus, the M.D. !Xung speakers lost their traditional hunting and tracking skills. In 1990, when Namibia received Independence from South Africa, the South African Army bases in Namibia closed. The !Xung who were working for the South African army were given the option to move with the army to South Africa. The community was split, and some of its members moved to Schmittsdrift, South Africa.

The Mangetti Dune and the Schmittsdrift !Xung communities are the only known in-tact communities that speak a language of the northern branch of the Juu subgroup of the Ju-+Hoan language family, and there are no descriptions available of any of these languages. There has been no previous documentation of M.D. !Xung, and documentation is critical before the elder speakers who still maintain memories about the traditional lifestyle pass away. It is clear that their traditional lifestyle differed quite markedly from the other Juu groups. For example, the arrows that they used for hunting are much larger than those used by their southern neighbors. So little is known about their traditions and cultures.


Language information

!Xung is severely endangered. It is only used among family members. Afrikaans and English are used in public locations in Mangetti Dune. Children are still learning M.D. !Xung, but they use it less often than their parents, since they are educated in English, and learn Afrikaans from communicating with members of other ethnic groups. Many of the young !Xung men are gaining high school education and employment, settling in the cities, marrying non-!Xung women, and shifting their home language to Afrikaans or Bantu languages.

The Juu subgroup of the Ju-+Hoan language family contains four branches: Northern, which includes M.D. !Xung; North-Central, which includes Ekoka !Xung; Central, which includes Grootfontein !Xung; and Southeastern, which includes Ju|’hoansi (Sands 2010).


Special characteristics

One of the !Xung speakers, Muyoto Kazungu, was producing some of the palatal clicks as palatal affricates. We were told that this is an idiosyncratic feature of his speech, which is due to age.

The language on the whole is typologically interesting because it contains phonological features that differ from related languages. For example, all languages of this family have a Back Vowel Constraint (Traill 1985, Miller-Ockhuizen 2003), a co-occurrence constraint between one class of clicks and front vowels. M.D. !Xung is unique in that the Back Vowel Constraint is not active with respect to mid vowels. This is an important finding as it tells us about how clicks behave.The language is also important because it has a lateral click reflex of a proto-retroflex click found in Proto-Juu (Sands 2010). Describing this lateral click is important in describing the historical process of click change found in the Juu languages.


Collection contents

The collection contains recordings and transcriptions of four traditional stories collected in Mangetti Dune, Namibia. The collection contains five file types associated with each of the stories:

  1. A high quality audio file (16 bit, 44,100 sampling rate, .WAV format) of the elder speaker telling the story, recorded with a Sampson C01 condensor microphone, and a Marantz PMD671 audio recorder.
  2. A PAL format video file (.MPEG4) recorded with a PAL format (25 fps) X video camera of the elder speaker telling the story.
  3. A stereo 44,100 .WAV file, recorded on the Marantz PMD 671 audio recorder, with 2 Sampson C01 condensor microphones, of oral documentation of the story using the BOLD method of documentation described in Reiman (2010), which contains:
    • Playback of line by line of the original story played on a Dell XPS M1360 laptop
    • Repetition of each line in slower careful speech by two younger speakers of Mangetti Dune !Xung (Christine and David)
    • Line by line translation into Afrikaans by Christine and David
    • Line by line translation from Afrikaans into English by Levi.
  4. Audio recording (mono .WAV file) made on the Marantz PMD 671 with a Sampson C01 condensor microphone containing an Afrikaans free translation of the story recorded by Christine or David
  5. An ELAN transcription file (.eaf), which contains line by line written transcriptions of the story in Mangetti Dune !Xung, and phrase by phrase Afrikaans translation.


Collection history

Miller, Namaseb and the M.D. !Xung trainees formed a team with respect to the documentation. The trainees were trained in using the digital video camera and the audio recorder. The trainees received two weeks of training from the Ju|’hoan language experts in transcription using the Dickens (1994) orthography, and in the use of ELAN software.

Miller and the trainees spent time during Miller’s first visit transcribing one of the performances. The team met with the MDTA several times over the first week of the first six week stint of documentation. Members of the traditional authority, and other members of the community were invited to attend the performances. The community was shown the video of the performances on the TV at the local NG church in the evenings. The MDTA and the performers will determine the Intellectual property rights of the recorded performances, as well as the access rules that will be attached to the archived documentation at ELAR.


Acknowledgement and citation

Augumes, Christine, Miller, Amanda, Namaseb, Levi and Prata, David. (2011-2013). Mangetti Dune !Xung Stories: In !Xung and English. The Ohio State University, The University of Namibia, and the Mangetti Dune Traditional Authority. Deposited at ELAR.

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Miller, Amanda. 2013. A Video and Text Documentation of Mangetti Dune !Xung. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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