Ethnologue: Areas: Africa

South Africa

39,189,000 (1995); 24,100,000 Africans (73.8%), 5,000,000 Whites (14.8%), 2,800,000 'Coloureds' (8.7%), 890,292 Asians (2.7%) (1987 USA Today). Republic of South Africa. Republiek van Suid-Afrika. Literacy rate 50% Africans, 62% 'Coloureds', 69% Asians, 99% Whites (1990 WA); 43% (1977 C. M. Brann). 11 official languages. Also includes German 45,000, Greek 70,000, Portuguese 617,000, workers from nearby countries 2,700,000. Information mainly from Voegelin and Voegelin 1977; Ruhlen 1987; Tony Trail 1995. Data accuracy estimate: B. Christian, traditional religion, secular, Hindu, Muslim. Blind population 62,000 (1982 WCE). Deaf population 12,100 (1986 Gallaudet University). Deaf institutions: 43. The number of languages listed for South Africa is 31. Of those, 27 are living languages, 1 is a second language without mother tongue speakers, and 3 are extinct.

AFRIKAANS [AFK] 6,200,000 in South Africa (1991 Christos van Rensburg), of whom 1,000,000 are native bilinguals with English (1989 J. Holm), 15.1% of the population (1995 The Economist); 146,000 in Namibia (1993 Johnstone); 20,000 in Botswana (1995 LBT); 2,353 in Canada (1974 census); 12,655 in Australia (1971 UN); 3,840 in New Zealand (1976 census); 6,365,000 or more in all countries. 4,000,000 in South Africa use it as second or third language (1989 Holm). Pretoria and Bloemfontein are principal centers of population. Cape Malays live mainly in Capetown, with some in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and Port Elizabeth. Afrikaans also in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho. Indo-European, Germanic, West, Continental, Low, Dutch. Dialects: CAPE AFRIKAANS (WEST CAPE AFRIKAANS), ORANGE RIVER AFRIKAANS, EAST CAPE AFRIKAANS. A variant of the Dutch spoken by the 17th century colonists, with some lexical and syntactic borrowings from Malay, Bantu languages, Khoisan languages, Portuguese, and other European languages. 150,000 Cape Malays speak Afrikaans; some also speak English. Their ancestors were brought from Java 300 years ago. National language. Cape Malays: builders, carpenters. Cape Malay: Muslim, Christian. Braille Bible. Bible 1933-1983. NT 1941-1980. Bible portions 1893-1929.

BIRWA [BRL] (10,000 in Botswana; 1993). Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Shona (S.10). Survey needed.

CHINESE, MANDARIN [CHN] 15,000 in South Africa (1993); 885,000,000 in all countries. Sino-Tibetan, Chinese. Speakers whose predecessors came from China. Bible 1874-1983. NT 1857-1981. Bible portions 1864-1986.

ENGLISH [ENG] 3,500,000 in South Africa (1991 Christos van Rensburg), 9.1% of the population (1995 The Economist); 322,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. The main means of communication in urban areas. Other European languages are German and Portuguese, with 140,000 speakers (1991 Christos van Rensburg). Many second generation people from India, Portugal, Germany, and Greece speak English as first language. National language. Bible 1382-1989. NT 1380-1993. Bible portions 1530-1993.

FANAGOLO ("FANAKALO", "FANEKOLO", "KITCHEN KAFFIR", "MINE KAFFIR", PIKI, ISIPIKI, "ISIKULA", LOLOLO, ISILOLOLO, PIDGIN BANTU, BASIC ZULU) [FAO] Several hundred thousand speakers (1975 Reinecke). Also in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Katanga, Zaïre. Pidgin, Zulu based. "Fanagolo" and most or all other names are pejorative. Used widely in towns and gold, diamond, coal, and copper mining areas. About 70% of the vocabulary comes from Zulu, 24% from English, 6% from Afrikaans. The dialect in Zambia is called 'Cikabanga', that in Zimbabwe is called 'Chilapalapa'. Trade language. Second language only. No mother tongue speakers.

FLY TAAL (FLAAI TAAL, TSOTSI TAAL) [FLY] Tens of thousands of primary users; hundreds of thousands of second language users (1984 Gilbert and Makhudu). African townships surrounding Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Bloemfontein. Creole, Afrikaans based. Speakers usually acquire a Bantu language first at home, but at the same time acquire Fly Taal from their peers. Originated in the gold mines in Transvaal from 1886. Creolized by 1930. Fly Taal promotes attitudes of strong identity and solidarity. Survey needed.

GUJARATI (GUJERATI) [GJR] 44,000,000 in all countries. Also India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Fiji, United Kingdom. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Gujarati. Hindu. Bible 1823-1994. NT 1820-1985. Bible portions 1809-1965.

HINDI [HND] 890,292 including all Indian languages (1986 USA Today); 2,000,000 speakers of Western Hindi languages in all Africa (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin); 182,000,000 in all countries Hindi. Also India, Nepal, Kenya, Uganda, Yemen, USA, Fiji, Mauritius, Nauru, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Germany. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Western Hindi, Hindustani. The Asians, largely of Indian, Pakistani, and Chinese descent, live mainly in Natal. Hindu. Bible 1818-1987. NT 1811-1992. Bible portions 1806-1962.

KORANA (KORANNA, !ORA, !KORA, KORAQUA, GORACHOUQUA) [KQZ] 50 (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin), out of an ethnic group of 10,000 (1972 Barrett). Western. Possibly also Botswana. Khoisan, Southern Africa, Central, Nama. Nomads. Slowly dying out. May be extinct. Christian, traditional religion. Bible 1933.

NAMA (NAMAN, NAMAKWA, NAMAQUA, DAMA, DAMARA, DAMAQUA, TAMA, TAMMA, TAMAKWA, KHOEKHOE, BERDAMA, BERGDAMARA, KHOI, HOTTENTOT, ROOI NASIE, KAKUYA BUSHMAN NASIE, "KLIPKAFFER", "KLIPKAFFERN") [NAQ] 146,000 in all countries (1989 UBS). Mainly in Namibia. Khoisan, Southern Africa, Central, Nama. Dialect: GIMSBOK NAMA. Language of secondary education and used on the radio. Typology: SOV. Bible 1966. NT 1866-1909. Bible portions 1831-1984.

NDEBELE (NREBELE, NDZUNDZA, TRANSVAAL NDEBELE, SOUTHERN NDEBELE) [NEL] 588,000 (1995), 1.5% of the population (1995 The Economist). Transvaal, south and central. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Sotho, Northern. Sometimes called a dialect of Northern Sotho. Distinct from Ndebele of Zimbabwe. National language. Braille Bible portions. NT 1986. Bible portions 1977-1986.

NG'HUKI [NGH] Possibly Namibia. Khoisan, Southern Africa, Southern, !Kwi. Dialects: /KHOMANI, //KXAU, //NG!KE (NG//-/E, //NG, /ING/KE). Nearly extinct.

OORLANS [OOR] Creole, Afrikaans based. There are mother tongue speakers. It also includes some Bantu words. There are a large number of small colonies of Africans. Survey needed.

RONGA (SHIRONGA) [RON] 500,000 in all countries (1991 UBS). Also Mozambique (primarily). Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Tswa-Ronga (S.50). Dialect: KONDE. Partially intelligible with ShiTsonga and ShiTswa. Bible 1923. NT 1903-1914. Bible portions 1896-1905. Work in progress.

SEROA [KQU] Also was in Lesotho. Khoisan, Southern Africa, Southern, !Kwi. Dialects: !GÃ!NGE (!GÃ!NE), //KU//E. Had three dialects. Extinct.

SOTHO, NORTHERN (PEDI, SEPEDI, TRANSVAAL SOTHO) [SRT] 3,840,000 in South Africa (1995 The Economist); 11,000 in Botswana (1993 Johnstone); 3,851,000 in all countries. Transvaal, south and central. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Sotho, Northern. Dialects: MASEMOLA (MASEMULA, TAU), KGAGA (KXAXA, KHAGA), KONI (KONE), TSWENE (TSWENI), GANANWA (XANANWA, HANANWA), PULANA, PHALABORWA (PHALABURWA, THEPHALABORWA), KHUTSWE (KHUTSWI, KUTSWE), LOBEDU (LUBEDU, LOVEDU, KHELOBEDU), TLOKWA (TLOKOA, TOKWA, DOGWA), PAI, DZWABO (THABINE-ROKA-NARENG), KOPA, MATLALA-MOLETSHI. Dialects Pai, Kutswe, and Pulana are more divergent and sometimes called 'Eastern Sotho'. A language of secondary education and used on the radio and in newspapers. National language. Braille Bible portions. Bible 1904-1951. NT 1890. Bible portions 1964.

SOTHO, SOUTHERN (SUTO, SUTHU, SESOTHO, SOUTO, SISUTHO) [SSO] 2,704,000 in South Africa (1995), 6.9% of the population (1995 The Economist); 1,493,000 in Lesotho (1993); 4,197,000 in all countries. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Sotho, Southern. Dialects: TAUNG, PHUTHI. Language of secondary education. Used on the radio and in newspapers. Sotho, Pedi, and Tswana are largely inherently intelligible but have generally been considered separate languages. Fair literacy rate. National language. Braille Scripture in progress. Bible 1878-1989. NT 1855-1982. Bible portions 1839-1993.

SOUTH AFRICAN SIGN LANGUAGE [SFS] (12,100 deaf persons including 6,000 Black, 2,000 English white, 2,000 Afrikaans white, 1,200 Coloured, 900 Indian; 1986 Gallaudet Univ.). Deaf sign language. The first deaf school was established about 1846. The North British sign system was used for the deaf in white English speaking families. In 1881 a school for Afrikaans speaking families was begun using British Sign Language. Now there are 29 schools for 4,000 children. Several dialects are used unofficially in different schools. There are 9 sign language systems, 60% related to British or Australian sign languages, few to American Sign Language. There is a Signed Afrikaans. Sign language is understood to some degree by most deaf people. Some interpreters are provided in courts.

SWAHILI (KISWAHELI, SUAHILI, KISUAHILI, ARAB-SWAHILI) [SWA] 1,000 in South Africa (1987 Schreck and Barrett); 92,000 to 97,000 in Kenya (1980): 5,000,000 first language speakers in all countries (1989 Holm); 30,000,000 second language speakers in all countries (1989 Holm). Chatsworth, an urban area close to Durban on the Natal coast. Also in Uganda, Tanzania, Mayotte, Rwanda, Burundi, UAE, and USA. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, G, Swahili (G.40). Zanzibaris brought from Zanzibar and northern Mozambique from 1873 to 1878. Coastal. Market gardeners. Muslim. Braille Scripture in progress. Bible 1891-1952. NT 1879-1989. Bible portions 1868-1968.

SWATI (SWAZI, ISISWAZI, SISWATI, TEKELA, TEKEZA) [SWZ] 1,019,000 in South Africa (1995), 2.6% of the population (1995 The Economist); 650,000 in Swaziland (1993 Johnstone); 731 in Mozambique (1980 census); 1,670,000 in all countries. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.40). Dialects: BACA, HLUBI, PHUTHI. Used on radio. National language. Bible in press (1996). NT 1981-1986. Bible portions 1976-1986.

TAMIL [TCV] 250,000 in South Africa (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin); 62,000,000 or more in all countries first language speakers. Also in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, Mauritius, Reunion. Dravidian, Southern, Tamil-Kannada, Tamil-Kodagu, Tamil-Malayalam, Tamil. Hindu. Bible 1727-1995. NT 1715-1988. Bible portions 1714-1956.

TSONGA (SHITSONGA, THONGA, TONGA, SHANGANA, SHANGAAN) [TSO] 1,646,000 in South Africa (1995), 4.2% of the population (1995 The Economist); 1,500,000 in Mozambique (1989 UBS); 19,000 in Swaziland (1993 Johnstone); 3,165,000 in all countries. Transvaal. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Tswa-Ronga (S.50). Dialects: LULEKE (XILULEKE), GWAMBA (GWAPA), CHANGANA, HLAVE, KANDE, N'WALUNGU (SHINGWALUNGU), XONGA, JONGA (DZONGA), NKUMA, SONGA, NHLANGANU (SHIHLANGANU). A language of secondary education and used on the radio and in newspapers. Partially intelligible with Ronga and Tswa. National language. Christian, traditional religion. Braille Bible portions. Bible 1907-1989. NT 1894-1975. Bible portions 1892-1968.

TSWA (SHITSWA, KITSWA, XITSWA, SHEETSWA) [TSC] (695,212 in Mozambique; 1980 census). Also in Zimbabwe, primarily Mozambique. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Tswa-Ronga (S.50). Dialects: HLENGWE (MAKAWE-KHAMBANA), TSWA (DZIBI-DZONGA). Partially intelligible with Ronga and Tsonga. Bible 1910-1955. NT 1903-1928. Bible portions 1891-1908.

TSWANA (CHUANA, COANA, CUANA, SECHUANA, TSHWANA, BEETJUANS) [TSW] 2,822,000 in South Africa (1995), 7.2% of the population (1995 The Economist); 1,070,000 in Botswana (1993 Johnstone); 11,300 in Namibia; 29,350 in Zimbabwe (1969 census); 3,932,000 in all countries. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Tswana. Dialects: TAWANA, HURUTSHE, NGWAKETSE, THLARO, KWENA, NGWATO, TLOKWA, MELETE, KGATLA, THLAPING (TLAPI), ROLONG. A language of secondary education and used on the radio and in newspapers. Close to Southern and Northern Sotho. National language. Braille code available. Bible 1857-1993. NT 1840-1994. Bible portions 1830-1966.

URDU [URD] 170,000 South Asian Muslims in South Africa (1987); 54,000,000 or more in all countries. Along the Natal coast and urban areas around Durban, Transvaal surrounding Johannesburg, and scattered smaller towns. Also in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Omar, Qatar, Fiji, Mauritius, Thailand, Germany, UAE. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Western Hindi, Hindustani. Most speak English. Merchants, traders, industrial, professional (medicine, computers), clerical workers, craftsmen. Muslim. Bible 1843-1958. NT 1758-1993. Bible portions 1805-1894.

VENDA (CHIVENDA) [VEN] 666,000 in South Africa (1995), 1.7% of the population (1995 The Economist); 84,000 in Zimbabwe; 750,000 in all countries. Transvaal, north. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Venda (S.20). Dialects: PHANI, TAVHA-TSINDI. Fairly low literacy rate. The Lembaa are a Venda-speaking Jewish people claiming Falasha descent. National language. Traditional religion, Christian, Jewish (Lembaa). Braille Bible portions. Bible 1936, in press (1996). NT 1923-1989. Bible portions 1920-1989.

/XAM (/KHAM-KA-!K'E, /KAMKA!E, /XAM-KA-!K'E) [XAM] Khoisan, Southern Africa, Southern, !Kwi. Extinct.

//XEGWI (//XEGWE, //XEKWI, BATWA, BUSH-C, ABATHWA, BOROA, TLOUE, TLOUTLE, KLOUKLE, LXLOUKXLE, AMANKGQWIGQWI, NKQESHE, AMABUSMANA, GI/KXIGWI, KI//KXIGWI) [XEG] Near the Swaziland border. Khoisan, Southern Africa, Southern, !Kwi. Extinct.

XHOSA (ISIXHOSA, XOSA, KOOSA, "KAFFER", "KAFFIR", "CAFFRE", "CAFRE", "CAUZUH") [XOS] 6,858,000 in South Africa (1995), 17.5% of the population (1995 The Economist); 18,000 in Lesotho (1993 Johnstone); 6,876,000 in all countries. Southwest Cape Province and Transkei. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.40). Dialects: GEALEKA, NDLAMBE, GAIKA (NCQIKA), THEMBU, BOMVANA, MPONDOMSE (MPONDOMISI), MPONDO, XESIBE. 15% of the vocabulary is estimated to be of Khoekhoe (Khoisan) origin. A language of secondary education, used on the radio and in newspapers. "Cauzuh" is an obsolete name. Somewhat acculturated. Fair literacy rate. Many understand Zulu, Swati, Southern Sotho. National language. Typology: Clicks. Braille Bible portions. Bible 1859, in press (1996). NT 1846-1987. Bible portions 1833-1987.

XIRI (GRIKWA, GRIQUA, XRIKWA, XIRIKWA, GRY, CAPE HOTTENTOT) [XII] Khoisan, Southern Africa, Central, Nama. May be extinct. Nearly extinct.

ZULU (ISIZULU, ZUNDA) [ZUU] 8,778,000 in South Africa (1995), 22.4% of the population (1995 The Economist); 37,480 in Malawi (1966 census); 76,000 in Swaziland (1993 Johnstone); 248,000 in Lesotho (1993); 9,140,000 in all countries. Zululand and northern Natal. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.40). Dialects: LALA, QWABE. Close to Swazi and Xhosa. A language of secondary education and used on the radio and in newspapers. 70% literate. National language. Christian, traditional religion. Braille Bible portions. Bible 1883-1959. NT 1865-1986. Bible portions 1848-1986.


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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
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