PanSALB Clarifies Xitsonga Spelling on new Banknotes





PanSALB Clarifies Xitsonga Spelling on new Banknotes

The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) has noted concerns raised with South African Reserve Bank (SARB) on the change of the Xitsonga spelling on the upgraded bank notes and coins from “Banginkulu to Bangikulu”. This serves to notify the public that there were consultations between the SARB and PanSALB and the terms were verified and authenticated by the Xitsonga National Language Body  a statutory and advisory structure established in terms of the PanSALB Act.

Therefore, the Pan South African Language Board hereby confirms the words written in Xitsonga, ‘Bangikulu’ as reflected on the upgraded banknotes to be accurate and correct and is consistent with the revised Spelling & Orthography Rules published by the Pan South African Language Board in May 2022. PanSALB notes the confusion that may have been caused by the change and wishes to encourage members of the public to download the latest revised spelling and orthography rules available in all official languages on the PanSALB website at

National Language Bodies are established primarily as language development agencies with specific emphasis on standardisation in respect of all official languages which determine language standards and verification of terminology.

About PanSALB

The Pan South African Language Board is Constitutional body established in terms of the PanSALB Act 59 of 1995 as amended in 1999 to provide for the recognition, implementation and furtherance of multilingualism in the Republic of South Africa and the development of previously marginalised languages.

Explanation of enquiries regarding the spelling of the word ‘bangikulu’ on the new SARB banknotes 

Xitsonga NLB has pointed out that in prior notes, the term bangikulu was spelt erroneously as banginkulu, with a /n/ that was not supposed to be there. The following is the explanation for why the Xitsonga NLB advised the removal of the /n/ in the current banknotes.

Bangikulu is a compound noun which is formed by two words, the noun ‘bangi’ and the adjective stem ‘-kulu’ to form bangikulu. The /n/ cannot be accounted as to where it is coming from. As much as we cannot say bangi leyinkulu/yinkulu, we also cannot say banginkulu.

The /n/ that goes with the adjective stem ‘-kulu’ can only be accounted for on nouns that pertain to humans. Matsalanankulu, mhaninkulu, and papankulu are a few examples. This is because the /n/ on these words is a allomorph of /mu/, which can stand as a prefix of class 1 words.

See example below:

Matsalana mu kulu     >     Mutsalana mukulu >      Matsalana mkulu  >  Matsalanankulu

The preceding explanation does not apply to words in other noun classes, such as Classes 3, 5, and 9. For instance, hofisikulu, mhakakulu, dorobakulu, and bangikulu. The explanation also applies on the following compound words which have been used with the adjective stem -kulu:

  1. Malamula lamakulu ma nandziha swinene and NOT Malamula lamankulu ma nandziha
  2. Xihloka lexikulu xi tshivekile and NOT xihloka lexinkulu xi
  3. Mufana lonkulu u ya exikolweni and NOT mufana lokulu u ya

Language speakers can also become acquainted with the orthography and spelling rule book by visiting the PanSALB website by clicking on the link below. Pages 43 and 44 deal with the this issue: Spelling and Orthography – PanSALB


Dr Arnold Mushwana

Chairperson, Xitsonga National Language Body



Related Posts