A language of South Africa

Alternate Names
“Cauzuh” (pej.), Isixhosa, Koosa, Xosa

8,150,000 in South Africa (2013 UNSD). L2 users: 11,000,000 in South Africa (Webb 2002). Total users in all countries: 19,177,300 (as L1: 8,177,300; as L2: 11,000,000).


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.

Language Status

1 (National). Statutory national language (1996, Constitution, Article 6(1)).


Mpondo (Pondo), Xesibe, Bomwana, Gaika, Gcaleka, Thembu, Mpondomise, Ndlambe. 15% of the vocabulary estimated to be of Khoekhoe (Khoisan) origin.


SVO; noun head initial; 17 noun classes; no articles; verb affixes mark person, number, object; causatives; 58 consonant and 10 vowel phonemes; tonal (2 tones: high, low); clicks.

Language Use

Also use Southern Sotho [sot], Swati [ssw], Zulu [zul].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 50%. Literacy rate in L2: 20%–25%. Taught in primary and secondary schools. Magazines. Newspapers. Radio programs. TV. Bible: 1859.

Braille script [Brai]. Latin script [Latn], primary usage.

Other Comments

Cauzuh is an obsolete name. Somewhat acculturated. Christian, traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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