A language of Botswana

Alternate Names
Ciyei, “Koba” (pej.), “Kuba” (pej.), “Sekoba” (pej.), Seyeyi, Shiyeyi, Siyei, Yeei, Yei

20,000 in Botswana (2001 LBT). Population total all countries: 55,000. Ethnic population: 47,000. L2 users: Few speak Yeyi as L2.


North West district: Maun, Shorobe up to Mababe, Sankoyo, Daunara, Nokaneng, Gumare, Sepopo, Ikoga, Shakawe, and Seronga; Central district: Letihakane, Xumu, Rakops, Motopi.

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened).


Shirwanga. Not closely related to other languages. Lexical similarity: 47% with Luyana [lyn], 30% with Herero [her].


SVO; postpositions; articles, adjectives, numerals after noun heads; relatives before or after; question word initial; 4 prefixes, one suffix; word order distinguishes subjects, objects, indirect objects; noun affixes indicate case; verb affixes mark person, number, gender; CVC; nontonal.

Language Use

43% who learned Yeyi from their parents said they speak Yeyi best, 57% said they speak Tswana [tsn] best. 12% of respondents said they speak only Yeyi to their children, 9% speak Yeyi and Tswana to their children. In some villages, children speak Yeyi, including Seronga, Sepopa, Ikoga, Jau. In many villages used only by those over 40. Young people who have attended secondary school also use English [eng]. All also use Tswana [tsn].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: Age 15–29: 95% Tswana, 68% English; age 30–54: 33% Tswana, 20% English; age 55 and older: 33% Tswana, 6% English. High motivation for literacy. Dictionary.

Latin script [Latn].

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