South Africa

Print
Afrikaans
[afr] Widespread, but fewer speakers in East Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. 17,160,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 6,860,000 (2013 UNSD), decreasing. L2 users: 10,300,000 (Webb 2002). Total users in all countries: 17,518,390 (as L1: 7,218,390; as L2: 10,300,000). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Art 6(1)), has been designated, along with English, as an official language in all 9 provinces. Autonym: Afrikaans. 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. Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, Low Saxon-Low Franconian, Low Franconian. Comments: Muslim, Christian.

More Information

Birwa
[brl] Limpopo province: Capricorn district; near Zimbabwe border. Status: 6a (Vigorous). Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.32). Comments: Non-indigenous.

More Information

Camtho
[cmt] Gauteng province: Soweto, Johannesburg, other urban settings. No known L1 speakers. Ethnic population: No ethnic community. Status: 9 (Second language only). Alternate Names: Iscamtho, Isicamtho, Tsotsitaal. Dialects: None known. Developed in the 1980s from the original Flaaitaal [fly], and sometimes called Tsotsitaal. Also described as a basically Zulu [zul] or Sotho language with heavy code switching and many English [eng] and Afrikaans [afr] content morphemes. Classification: Mixed language, Zulu-Bantu.

More Information

English
[eng] KwaZulu-Natal province; Tugela river to Port Edward area, and inland to Eastern Cape province; urban concentrations, Johannesburg, suburbs; Gauteng province: Cape Town area; Western Cape province. 15,890,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 4,890,000 (2013 UNSD). L2 users: 11,000,000 (Crystal 2003a). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)), has been designated, along with Afrikaans, as an official language in all 9 provinces. Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, English. Comments: Non-indigenous.

More Information

Flaaitaal
[fly] Gauteng province: Johannesburg area; Pretoria, Bloemfontein and other cities. No known L1 speakers. Status: 9 (Dormant). Alternate Names: Flaai Taal, Fly Taal, Tsotsitaal. Dialects: None known. Not intelligible of Afrikaans [afr]. Used many Afrikaans, English [eng], and Bantu words, and others of unknown origin. Classification: Creole, Afrikaans based. Comments: ‘Tsotsitaal’, speech of a young gang member, criminal, or thug.

More Information

Gail
[gic] Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape provinces; mainly urban settings: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, and Port Elizabeth. 20,000, all users. L1 users: No known L1 speakers. L2 users: 20,000. Ethnic population: No ethnic community. Status: 9 (Second language only). Dialects: None known. In Johannesburg more English based, in Pretoria more Afrikaans [afr] based. May be related to Polari [pld] in the United Kingdom. Classification: Unclassified. Comments: An in-group language.

More Information

Hindi
[hin] KwaZulu-Natal province. 361,000 (2003). Status: 5 (Dispersed). Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Western Hindi, Hindustani. Comments: Non-indigenous. Has Bhojpuri [bho] features in South Africa. Hindu.

More Information

Khoekhoe
[naq] Northern Cape province. 2,000 (Brenzinger 2013). Status: 5 (Dispersed). Alternate Names: Bergdamara, Dama, Damaqua, Damara, Khoekhoegowap, Khoi, Nama, Namakwa, Naman, Namaqua, Tama, Tamakwa, Tamma, “Hottentot” (pej.). Dialects: Gimsbok Nama. Classification: Khoe-Kwadi, Khoe, Khoekhoe, Nama. Comments: Non-indigenous.

More Information

Korana
[kqz] Northern Cape province. No known L1 speakers. Ethnic population: 10,000 (1972 D. Barrett, M. Hronek, G. Mambo et al.). Status: 9 (Dormant). Alternate Names: !Kora, !Ora, Gorachouqua, Koranna, Koraqua. Classification: Khoe-Kwadi, Khoe, Khoekhoe, Nama. Comments: Christian, traditional religion.

More Information

Kung-Ekoka
[knw] North Cape province: Diamondfields district, Kimberley, Schmidtsdrift military base. 3,700 (Brenzinger 2013). Status: 6a (Vigorous). Alternate Names: !Hu, !Khung, !Ku, !Kung, !Xu, !Xun, Ekoka-!Xû, Kung, Qxü. Classification: Kx’a, !Kung. Comments: Non-indigenous.

More Information

Ndebele
[nbl] Mpumalanga and Gauteng (Nkangala district) provinces: northeast of Pretoria. 2,490,000, all users. L1 users: 1,090,000 (2011 census). L2 users: 1,400,000 (Webb 2002). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)). Alternate Names: Isikhethu, Ndzundza, Nrebele, Southern Ndebele, Transvaal Ndebele. Autonym: IsiNdebele. Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.407). Comments: Different from Ndebele [nde] of Zimbabwe.

More Information

N|u
[ngh] Northern Cape province: Olifantshoek and Upington towns. 5 (Brenzinger 2013), decreasing. 5 elderly women, 3 speaking the N|uu dialect in Upington, 2 speaking the ||Au variety in Olifantshoek. Ethnic population: 500 (1998 N. Crawhall). Status: 8b (Nearly extinct). Alternate Names: Ng’uki, Nghuki, N|huuki, N|uu, N|uuki, N||ng, ‡Khomani. Dialects: N|u, ||Au, ||Ng!ke (||Ng, |Ing|ke, Ng||-|e). Reportedly similar to |Xam [xam]. Classification: Tuu, !Ui. Comments: The |’Auni dialect has no remaining speakers. Christian, traditional religion.

More Information

Oorlams
[oor] Mpumalanga province. 32,000 (2006 J. Leclerc). Status: 6a (Vigorous). Classification: Creole, Afrikaans based.

More Information

Pidgin Bantu
[fng] Gauteng province: suburban Johannesburg and mining areas. No known L1 speakers. Ethnic population: No ethnic community. Total users in all countries: 5,100 (as L1: 0; as L2: 5,100). Status: 9 (Second language only). Alternate Names: Basic Zulu, Fanagoloi, Isilololo, Isipiki, Lololo, Piki, Silunguboi, “Fanagalo” (pej.), “Fanakalo” (pej.), “Fanekolo” (pej.), “Isikula” (pej.). Dialects: Zambia dialect is called Cikabanga; in Zimbabwe, it is called, Chilapalapa. Influenced by Shona [sna] in Zimbabwe. About 70% of the vocabulary in Zimbabwe comes from Zulu [zul], 24% from English [eng], 6% from Afrikaans [afr]. Influenced by Bemba [bem] in Zambia. Lexical similarity: 70% with Zulu [zul], 24% with English [eng], 6% with Afrikaans [afr]. Classification: Pidgin, Zulu based. Comments: Originated in 19th century. “Fanagalo” and most or all other names are pejorative.

More Information

Ronga
[rng] KwaZulu-Natal province. 1,000 (2012 J. Leclerc). Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: Shironga. Dialects: Konde. Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Tswa-Rhonga (S.54).

More Information

Seroa
[kqu] Free State province: Xhariep district; near Swaziland border. No known L1 speakers. Status: 10 (Extinct). Dialects: !Gã!nge (!Gã!ne), ||Ku||e. Had 3 dialects. Classification: Tuu, !Ui.

More Information

Sotho, Northern
[nso] Limpopo province; Mpumalanga province: Nkangala and Ehlanzeni districts; Gauteng province: Pretoria area; North-West province: Mortele municipality. 13,720,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 4,620,000 (2013 UNSD), increasing. L2 users: 9,100,000 (Webb 2002). Total users in all countries: 13,731,000 (as L1: 4,631,000; as L2: 9,100,000). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)). Alternate Names: Pedi, Sepedi, Transvaal Sotho. Autonym: Sesotho sa Leboa. Dialects: Masemola (Masemula, Tau), Kgaga (Khaga, Kxaxa), Koni (Kone), Tswene (Tsweni), Gananwa (Hananwa, Xananwa), Pulana, Phalaborwa (Phalaburwa, Thephalaborwa), Khutswe (Khutswi, Kutswe), Lobedu (Khelobedu, Lovedu, Lubedu), Tlokwa (Dogwa, Tlokoa, Tokwa), Pai, Dzwabo (Thabine-Roka-Nareng), Kopa (Ndebele-Sotho), 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.32). Comments: Christian, traditional religion.

More Information

Sotho, Southern
[sot] Free State province; Gauteng province: Tembisa and Kempton Park; Eastern Cape province: Senqu municipality, south of Lesotho; North-West and Mpumalanga provinces border areas. 11,750,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 3,850,000 (2013 UNSD), increasing. L2 users: 7,900,000 (Webb 2002). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)). Alternate Names: Sesotho, Sisutho, Souto, Suthu, Suto. Dialects: Taung. Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Sotho-Tswana (S.33). Comments: Christian, traditional religion.

More Information

South African Sign Language
[sfs] Scattered. 235,000 (2011 census). Approx. 500,000 (2008 WFD). Status: 6a (Vigorous). Recognized language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(5a)). Alternate Names: SASL. Dialects: Several dialects are used unofficially in different regions and schools. Deaf Federation of South Africa promotes a standardized variety. The North British sign system was used for the deaf in white English-speaking families. In 1881 a school for Afrikaans [afr]-speaking families began using British Sign Language [bfi]. There is a Signed Afrikaans as well. 60% related to British Sign Language [bfi] and Auslan [asf], few to American Sign Language [ase]. Classification: Sign language.

More Information

Swahili
[swh] KwaZulu-Natal province: Chatsworth 1, on coast, southwest of Durban proper. 2,000 (2012 J. Leclerc). Status: 5 (Dispersed). Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, G, Swahili (G.42). Comments: Non-indigenous. Zanzibaris brought from Zanzibar and northern Mozambique from 1873–1878. Muslim.

More Information

Swati
[ssw] KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces. 3,700,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 1,300,000 (2013 UNSD). L2 users: 2,400,000 (Webb 2002). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)). Alternate Names: Siswati, Siswazi, Swazi, Tekela, Tekeza, Thithiza, Yeyeza. Dialects: Baca, Hlubi, Phuthi (Sephuthi). Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.43). Comments: Christian, traditional religion.

More Information

Tamil
[tam] 250,000 (2015 V. Sivasupramaniam). Ethnic population: 1,030,000 (2012 J. Leclerc). Status: 4 (Educational). Classification: Dravidian, Southern, Tamil-Kannada, Tamil-Kodagu, Tamil-Malayalam, Tamil. Comments: Non-indigenous.

More Information

Tsonga
[tso] Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. 5,680,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 2,280,000 (2013 UNSD), increasing. L2 users: 3,400,000 (Webb 2002). Total users in all countries: 8,439,000 (as L1: 5,039,000; as L2: 3,400,000). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)). Alternate Names: Shangaan, Shangana, Shitsonga, Thonga, Tonga, Vatsonga. Autonym: Xitsonga. Dialects: Luleke (Xiluleke), Gwamba (Gwapa), Changana (Xichangana), Hlave, Kande, N’walungu (Shingwalungu), Xonga (Ssonga), Jonga (Dzonga), Nkuna, 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 inherently intelligible. Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Tswa-Rhonga (S.53). Comments: Christian, traditional religion.

More Information

Tswa
[tsc] Limpopo province: near South Africa-Zimbabwe-Mozambique shared border. 20,000 (2012 J. Leclerc). Status: 5 (Developing). 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-Rhonga (S.51). Comments: Non-indigenous.

More Information

Tswana
[tsn] North-West province: Free State, between Kimberley and Bloemfontein; Northern province: Waterberg municipality; Northern Cape province: northeast; Gauteng province: southwest of Pretoria. 11,770,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 4,070,000 (2013 UNSD), increasing. L2 users: 7,700,000 (Webb 2002). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)). Alternate Names: Beetjuans, Chuana, Coana, Cuana, Sechuana, Setswana, 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.31). Comments: Christian, traditional religion.

More Information

‡Ungkue
[gku] Northern Cape Province, Siya Themba municipality, near the confluence of the Orange and Vaal rivers. No known L1 speakers. Status: 10 (Extinct). Alternate Names: ||Kxau. Dialects: None known. Reportedly similar to N|u [ngh]. Classification: Tuu, !Ui.

More Information

Urdu
[urd] KwaZulu-Natal province: Durban coastal and urban areas; Gauteng province: Johannesburg area, and scattered smaller towns. 12,000 (2006 J. Leclerc). Status: 5 (Dispersed). Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Western Hindi, Hindustani. Comments: Non-indigenous. Muslim.

More Information

Venda
[ven] Limpopo province. 2,910,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 1,210,000 (2013 UNSD), increasing. L2 users: 1,700,000 (Webb 2002). Total users in all countries: 3,001,400 (as L1: 1,301,400; as L2: 1,700,000). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)). Alternate Names: Chivenda, Luvenda. Autonym: Tshivenḓa‎ (Tshivenda). Dialects: Phani, Tavha-Tsindi, Ilafuri (West Venda), Manda (Central Venda), Guvhu, Mbedzi (East Venda), Lembetu, Ronga (Southeast Venda). Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Venda (S.21). Comments: Traditional religion, Christian, Jewish.

More Information

|Xam
[xam] Northern Cape province. No known L1 speakers. Status: 10 (Extinct). Alternate Names: |Kamka!e, |Kham-Ka-!k’e, |Xam-Ka-!k’e. Dialects: Strandberg, Katkop, Achterveld. Classification: Tuu, !Ui.

More Information

||Xegwi
[xeg] Limpopo province. No known L1 speakers. Last known speaker died in 1988. Status: 10 (Extinct). Alternate Names: Abathwa, Amabusmana, Amankgqwigqwi, Batwa, Boroa, Bush-C, Gi|kxigwi, Ki||kxigwi, Kloukle, Lxloukxle, Nkqeshe, Tloue, Tloutle, ||Xegwe, ||Xekwi. Classification: Tuu, !Ui.

More Information

Xhosa
[xho] Eastern Cape province: east of Middelburg and Port Elizabeth; Northern Cape province: southeast Pixley ka Seme municipality; KwaZulu-Natal province: Ugu and Sisonke municipalities; Free State: border area, west of Lesotho. 19,150,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 8,150,000 (2013 UNSD). L2 users: 11,000,000 (Webb 2002). Total users in all countries: 19,169,300 (as L1: 8,169,300; as L2: 11,000,000). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)). Alternate Names: Koosa, Xosa, “Cauzuh” (pej.). Autonym: Isixhosa. Dialects: Mpondo (Pondo), Xesibe, Bomwana, Gaika, Gcaleka, Thembu, Mpondomise, Ndlambe. 15% of the vocabulary estimated to be of Khoekhoe (Khoisan) origin. Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.41). Comments: Cauzuh is an obsolete name. Somewhat acculturated. Christian, traditional religion.

More Information

Xiri
[xii] Northern Cape province: near Namibia border. 87 (2000). Total users in all countries: 187. Status: 8b (Nearly extinct). Alternate Names: Cape Hottentot, Gri, Grikwa, Griqua, Gry, Xirikwa, Xrikwa. Classification: Khoe-Kwadi, Khoe, Khoekhoe, Nama.

More Information

Yiddish, Eastern
[ydd] Status: 5 (Dispersed). Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, Yiddish. Comments: Non-indigenous.

More Information

Zulu
[zul] KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga (Gert Sibande muni) provinces; northeast Free State and southeast Gauteng provinces; Eastern Cape province: Harding area. 27,300,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 11,600,000 (2013 UNSD), increasing. L2 users: 15,700,000 (Webb 2002). Total users in all countries: 27,472,100 (as L1: 11,772,100; as L2: 15,700,000). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)). Alternate Names: Zunda. Autonym: Isizulu. Dialects: Lala, Qwabe, Cele, Transvaal Zulu. Reportedly similar to Swazi [ssw] and Xhosa [xho]. Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.42). Comments: Christian, traditional religion.

More Information

Page Views Left: