A language of South Africa

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

19,150,000 in South Africa, all users. L1 users: 8,150,000 in South Africa (2013 UNSD). L2 users: 11,000,000 (Webb 2002). Total users in all countries: 19,183,300 (as L1: 8,183,300; 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)). Statutory provincial language in Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, and Western Cape (2012, Use of Official Languages Act, No. 12, Section 4(1)), official language in 5 provinces.


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. Newspapers. Periodicals. Radio. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. 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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