A language of Botswana

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

4,180 in Botswana (2015 UNSD). Ethnic population: 47,000. Total users in all countries: 11,180.


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

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 Setswana [tsn] best. 12% of respondents said they speak only Yeyi to their children, 9% speak Yeyi and Setswana to their children. Some young people, all adults. In some villages, children speak Yeyi. In many villages used only by those over 40. All also use Setswana [tsn]. Also use English [eng], especially young people who have attended secondary school.

Language Development

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


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments


Also spoken in:

Expand All
Collapse All
Page Views Left: