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Languages of South Africa

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Republic of South Africa, Republiek van Suid-Afrika. 47,939,000. 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). National or official languages: Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu, English. 11 official languages. Literacy rate: 50% Africans, 62% ‘Coloureds’, 69% Asians, 99% Whites (1990 WA). Immigrant languages: Angloromani (7,900), Dutch (12,000), Eastern Yiddish, French (8,000), Greek (17,000), Gujarati (25,800), Hai//om, Hakka Chinese (10,000), Italian (16,000), Kung-Ekoka (3,500), Portuguese (1,500,000), Shona (18,000), Standard German (12,000), Tamil (26,000), Telugu (4,000), Yue Chinese (15,000). Also includes languages of nearby countries (2,700,000). Information mainly from F. Anderson 1987; L-G Andersson and T. Janson 1997; M. Brenzinger 1997; J. Holm 1989. Blind population: 62,000 (1982 WCE). Deaf population: 12,100 (VanCleve 1986). Deaf institutions: 43. The number of individual languages listed for South Africa is 31. Of those, 24 are living languages, 3 are second languages without mother-tongue speakers, and 4 have no known speakers.
Afrikaans

[afr] 4,740,000 in South Africa (2006), decreasing. Population total all countries: 4,934,950. Principally Pretoria and Bloemfontein. Cape Malays mainly in Cape Town; some in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and Port Elizabeth. Also in Australia, Botswana, Canada, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, New Zealand, Swaziland, United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Dialects: Cape Afrikaans (West Cape Afrikaans), Orange River Afrikaans, East Cape Afrikaans. A variant of the Dutch [nld] spoken by the 17th century colonists, with some lexical and syntactic borrowings from Malay [zlm], Bantu languages, Khoisan languages, Portuguese [por], and other European languages. Their ancestors were brought from Java 300 years ago.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, Low Saxon-Low Franconian, Low Franconian 
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Birwa

[brl]   Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Sotho 
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Camtho

[cmt]  Soweto, Johannesburg, urban settings. Alternate names: Iscamtho, Isicamtho.  Dialects: A development in the 1980s from the original Tsotsitaal [fly], and sometimes called ‘Tsotsitaal’. Also described as a basically Zulu [zul] or Sotho language with heavy codeswitching and many English and Afrikaans [afr] content morphemes.  Classification: Mixed language, Zulu-Bantu 
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English

[eng] 3,670,000 in South Africa (2006 census).  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, English 
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Fanagalo

[fng] Several hundred thousand in South Africa (1975 Reinecke). Population total all countries: 5,100. Also in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Alternate names: Basic Zulu, “Fanakalo” , “Fanekolo” , “Isikula” , Isilololo, Isipiki, Lololo, Pidgin Bantu, Piki, Silunguboi.  Dialects: The dialect in Zambia is called ‘Cikabanga’, that in Zimbabwe is called ‘Chilapalapa’. Influenced by Shona [sna] in Zimbabwe. About 70% of the vocabulary in Zimbabwe comes from Zulu [zul], 24% from English, 6% from Afrikaans [afr]. Influenced by Bemba [bem] in Zambia. Lexical similarity: 70% with Zulu [zul], 24% with English, 6% with Afrikaans [afr].  Classification: Pidgin, Zulu based 
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Gail

[gic]  Mainly Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, and Port Elizabeth. Dialects: In Johannesburg it is more English based, in Pretoria more Afrikaans [afr] based. Reportedly related to Polari [pld] in the United Kingdom.  Classification: Unclassified 
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Hindi

[hin] 361,000 in South Africa (2003). Mainly Natal. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Western Hindi, Hindustani 
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Khwe

[xuu] 1,100 in South Africa (2000). Smithsdrift. Alternate names: Khoe, Kxoe, Mbarakwena, Mbarakwengo, Water Bushmen, Xun.  Dialects: ||Ani, Kxoedam.  Classification: Khoisan, Southern Africa, Central, Tshu-Khwe, Northwest 
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Korana

[kqz] No known speakers. Ethnic population: 10,000 in South Africa (1972 Barrett). West. Possibly in Botswana. Alternate names: !Kora, !Ora, Gorachouqua, Koranna, Koraqua.  Classification: Khoisan, Southern Africa, Central, Nama 
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Nama

[naq] 50,900 in South Africa (2006).  Alternate names: Berdama, Bergdamara, Dama, Damaqua, Damara, “Hottentot” , Kakuya Bushman, Khoekhoe, Khoeknoegowap, Khoi, Namakwa, Naman, Namaqua, Nasie, Rooi Nasie, Tama, Tamakwa, Tamma.  Dialects: Gimsbok Nama.  Classification: Khoisan, Southern Africa, Central, Nama 
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Ndebele

[nbl] 640,000 (2006). Transvaal, south and central. Alternate names: Ndzundza, Nrebele, Southern Ndebele, Transvaal Ndebele.  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Sotho, Northern 
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N|u

[ngh] 12 (2005 Crawhall), decreasing. Ethnic population: 500 (1998 Nigel Crawhall, South African San Institute). 2 at Andriesvale (near Askham), 1 at Witdraai (near Askham) 2 in Olifantshoek, 3 at Upington, 1 at Kalksloot (near Upington), 1 in Raaswater (near Upington), 2 at Kang (southern Botswana, near Tsabong). Alternate names: ‡Khomani, Ng’uki, Nghuki.  Dialects: N|u, |’Auni, ||Kxau, ||Ng!ke (Ng||-|e, ||Ng, |Ing|ke). Similar to |Xam.  Classification: Khoisan, Southern Africa, Southern, !Kwi  Nearly extinct.
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Oorlams

[oor] 32,000 (2006). Transvaal. Classification: Creole, Afrikaans based 
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Ronga

[rng] 1,000 in South Africa (2006).  Alternate names: Shironga.  Dialects: Konde.  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Tswa-Ronga (S.50) 
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Seroa

[kqu] Extinct. Also was in Lesotho. Dialects: !Gã!nge (!Gã!ne), ||Ku||e. Had 3 dialects.  Classification: Khoisan, Southern Africa, Southern, !Kwi 
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Sotho, Northern

[nso] 4,090,000 in South Africa (2006), increasing. Population total all countries: 4,101,000. Transvaal, south and central. Also in Botswana. Alternate names: Pedi, Sepedi, Transvaal Sotho.  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’.  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Sotho, Northern 
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Sotho, Southern

[sot] 4,240,000 in South Africa (2006), increasing.  Alternate names: Sesotho, Sisutho, Souto, Suthu, Suto.  Dialects: Taung, Phuthi.  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Sotho, Southern 
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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 (VanCleve 1986).  Dialects: The North British sign system was used for the deaf in white English-speaking families. In 1881 a school for Afrikaans-speaking families began using British Sign Language [bfi]. Several dialects are used unofficially in different schools. 9 sign language systems, 60% related to British or Australian sign languages [asf], few to American Sign Language [ase].  Classification: Deaf sign language 
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Swahili

[swh] 2,000 in South Africa (2006). Chatsworth, an urban area near Durban on Natal coast. Alternate names: Arab-Swahili, Kisuahili, Kiswaheli, Suahili.  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, G, Swahili (G.40) 
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Swati

[ssw] 1,010,000 in South Africa (1996 census).  Alternate names: Siswati, Siswazi, Swazi, Tekela, Tekeza, Thithiza, Yeyeza.  Dialects: Baca, Hlubi, Phuthi.  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.40) 
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Tsonga

[tso] 1,940,000 in South Africa (2006), increasing. Population total all countries: 3,669,000. Transvaal. Also in Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe. Alternate names: Shangaan, Shangana, Shitsonga, Thonga, Tonga.  Dialects: Luleke (Xiluleke), Gwamba (Gwapa), Changana, Hlave, Kande, N’walungu (Shingwalungu), Xonga, Jonga (Dzonga), Nkuma, Songa, Nhlanganu (Shihlanganu). ‘Tsonga’ is used to describe Changana [tso], Tswa [tsc], and Ronga [rng], although often used interchangeably with Changana, the most prestigious of the 3. All are recognized as languages, although they are inherently intelligible.  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Tswa-Ronga (S.50) 
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Tsotsitaal

[fly] Had tens of thousands of primary users; hundreds of thousands of L2 users (Gilbert and Makhudu 1984). Gauteng Province, Johannesburg area, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and other cities. Alternate names: Flaai Taal, Fly Taal.  Dialects: Not intelligible to Afrikaans [afr]. Used many Afrikaans, English, Bantu words, and others of unknown origin.  Classification: Creole, Afrikaans based  Nearly extinct.
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Tswa

[tsc] 20,000 in South Africa (2006).  Alternate names: Kitshwa, Sheetshwa, Shitshwa, Tshwa, Xitshwa.  Dialects: Hlengwe (Makawe-Khambana), Tshwa (Dzibi-Dzonga).  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Tswa-Ronga (S.50) 
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Tswana

[tsn] 3,410,000 in South Africa (2006), increasing.  Alternate names: Beetjuans, Chuana, Coana, Cuana, Sechuana, Tsiwaha.  Dialects: Tawana, Hurutshe, Ngwaketse, Thlaro, Kwena, Ngwato, Tlokwa, Melete, Kgatla, Thlaping (Tlapi), Rolong.  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.30), Tswana 
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Urdu

[urd] 12,000 in South Africa (2006). 170,000 South Asian Muslims in South Africa (1987). Natal coast and urban areas around Durban; Transvaal surrounding Johannesburg, and scattered smaller towns. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Western Hindi, Hindustani 
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Venda

[ven] 980,000 in South Africa (2006), increasing. Population total all countries: 1,064,000. Transvaal, north. Also in Zimbabwe. Alternate names: Chivenda.  Dialects: Phani, Tavha-Tsindi, Ilafuri, Manda, Guvhu, Mbedzi, Lembetu.  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Venda (S.20) 
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|Xam

[xam] Extinct.  Alternate names: |Kamka!e, |Kham-Ka-!k’e, |Xam-Ka-!k’e.  Classification: Khoisan, Southern Africa, Southern, !Kwi 
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||Xegwi

[xeg] Extinct. Near Swaziland border. Alternate names: ||Xegwe, ||Xekwi, Abathwa, Amabusmana, Amankgqwigqwi, Batwa, Boroa, Bush-C, Gi|kxigwi, Ki||kxigwi, Kloukle, Lxloukxle, Nkqeshe, Tloue, Tloutle.  Classification: Khoisan, Southern Africa, Southern, !Kwi 
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Xhosa

[xho] 7,790,000 in South Africa (2006). Population total all countries: 7,817,300. Southwest Cape Province and Transkei. Also in Botswana, Lesotho. Alternate names: “Cauzuh” , Isixhosa, Koosa, Xosa.  Dialects: 15% of the vocabulary is estimated to be of Khoekhoe (Khoisan) origin.  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.40) 
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Xiri

[xii] 87 in South Africa (2000). Population total all countries: 187. Also in Namibia. Alternate names: Cape Hottentot, Gri, Grikwa, Griqua, Gry, Xirikwa, Xrikwa.  Classification: Khoisan, Southern Africa, Central, Nama  Nearly extinct.
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Zulu

[zul] 9,980,000 in South Africa (2006), increasing. Population total all countries: 10,349,100. Zululand and north Natal. Also in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland. Alternate names: Isizulu, Zunda.  Dialects: Lala, Qwabe. Similar to Swazi [ssw] and Xhosa [xho].  Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.40) 
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