//Karas Region spelling a hot potato

24 Sep 2013 09:30
KEETMANSHOOP, 24 SEP (NAMPA) - Former Minister of Environment and Tourism Willem Konjore has suggested that the spelling of //Karas Region’s name be changed to //Kharas for it to have its correct meaning and pronunciation.
He first made the suggestion at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Neckartal Dam project on Friday and confirmed his statement to Nampa on Tuesday.
According to Konjore, the correct spelling of the region’s name is //Kharas and not //Karas, and it refers to mountains. Berseba Constituency Councillor Dawid Boois was in agreement with his statement.
“I think if we have to change from the Afrikaans spelling Karas to the Nama spelling then we must spell it correctly as //Kharas, because //Karas to me still has that Afrikaans influence,” said Konjore.
Younger people in the region also seem to be questioning the spelling, with a certain Roswitha Andreas addressing the issue in a letter published in local English daily the Namibian Sun earlier this month.
“The new name of the Karas Region, namely //Karas, has no grammatical meaning in the Nama language according to my poor knowledge of the language. One cannot just add a click to the existing name as there are lexical rules to consider,” Andreas wrote.
During the submission of the name change to the Delimitation Commission in April this year, which Boois and Konjore also participated in, leaders agreed that the name be changed to //Karas.
When asked why these suggestions are coming up now, Konjore said the spelling of the name was overlooked at the time.
He also noted that he is not criticising the name change which he was also a part of, but was merely stating his opinion based on the late observations.
Boois said although he agrees that the right spelling is //Kharas, he has no problem with those spelling it as ‘//Karas’ because it is the gazetted name.
On his part, Berseba Chief Johannes Isaak said the pronunciation and the spelling does not make much of a difference, as the emphasis placed on the click determines the meaning of the word.
He said his understanding of //Karas means ‘great things’, while //Kharas refers to the mountains.
“However one can still pronounce //Karas as //Kharas by placing great emphasis on a click and it would still mean the same thing,” he said.
The chief further said the issue is debatable and everyone is entitled to their opinion on what the correct spelling is, as well what it means.
Other forms of the word which have been mentioned include !Karas and //Garas, which refers to the Quiver tree.