A language of Botswana


Alternate Names
Beetjuans, Chuana, Coana, Cuana, Sechuana, Setswana

1,250,000 in Botswana (2003 UNSD). L2 users: 150,000 in Botswana. Total users in all countries: 13,201,780 (as L1: 5,351,780; as L2: 7,850,000).


Widespread as lingua franca; Southeast and Kgatleng districts; east Southern and Kweneng districts, Central district: Serowe-Palapye and Mahalapye subdistricts; Northwest district: Maun village area.

Language Status

1 (National). De facto national language.


Tlahaping (Thlaping, Tlapi), Rolong, Kwena, Kgatla, Ngwatu (Ngwato), Tawana, Lete, Ngwaketse, Tlokwa, Sehurutshe. High intelligibility among Southern Sotho [sot], Northern Sotho [nso], and Tswana. Standard Tswana is based on the Sehurutshe dialect and is nearly identical to it.

Language Use

Vigorous. Used among the educated. More for spoken purposes than written. All ages.

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 80%–90%. Official language of instruction grades 1–4 in all government primary schools. Taught in primary schools. Magazines. Newspapers. New media. Radio programs. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1857–1993.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

90%–95% of children complete standard 7 in primary school. Christian, traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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