a piece on rectifying the misspelling of Gugulethu

published in the Cape Argus on April 09

The City of Cape Town naming committee will recommend this month that a misspelling of Gugulethu on street signs be corrected at a cost of R200 000.

The misspelling dates from the 1980s, and appears as Guguletu.

In the report, the committee recommended:

* That the council noted the explanation of the spelling of “Gugulethu”; and that this be adopted as the correct spelling of the name of the township.

* That subject to available funding, all signage reflecting the incorrect spelling be replaced.


The committee said the misspelling was formalised in the 1980s, but that it “could only be speculated on why the ‘h’ in Gugulethu was not included on this formal documentation”.

The city’s language unit said that with the first publication of the Xhosa dictionary in the 19th century, “clicks” and “h” sounds were omitted.

“In today’s dictionaries, such as the Greater Dictionaries of Xhosa, and in isiXhosa orthography of 1980, this has been rectified. One can also look at other place names using the same suffix, such as Imizamo Yethu and Lingelethu.”

The committee said that although it was impractical to change the names on the general plans and individual title deeds for the area, it was possible for the city to change the appropriate signs to reflect the correct spelling.

But Gugulethu is not Cape Town’s only misspelling. In Langa, the city is looking to correct four names: Reverend Howard Marawa Street, which should be “Reverend Howard Marawu Street”; Lerotho Avenue, which should be “Lerotholi Avenue”; Zolile Musie Street, which should be “Xolile Musie” Street; and Jekula Crescent which should be “Mjekula Crescent”.


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