Harman Patil (Editor)

Sotho Tswana languages

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Glottolog  soth1248
Geographic distribution  South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana
Linguistic classification  Niger–Congo Atlantic–Congo Benue–Congo Southern Bantoid Bantu Southern Bantu Sotho-Tswana

The Sotho-Tswana languages are a group of closely related Southern Bantu languages spoken in Southern Africa. The Sotho-Tswana group corresponds to the S.30 label in Guthrie's (1967–1971) classification of languages in the Bantu family.

The group is divided into two branches, Tswana (or Tswanaic) and Sotho, as follows:

  • Tswanaic (also Western Sotho)
  • Tswana (Setswana), with dialects: Hurutshe, Kgatla, Kwena, Lete, Melete, Ngwaketse, Ngwatu, Rolong, Tawana, Thlaro, Tlahaping, Tlhaping, Tlharo, Tlokwa
  • Kgalagadi, with dialects: Nuclear Kgalagadi (Kgalagadi proper), Balaongwe, Kenyi, Khakhae, Koma, Ngologa, Pedi, Phaleng, Rhiti, Shaga, Siwane
  • Sotho
  • Sesotho-Lozi
  • Southern Sotho or Sotho proper (Sesotho) : Phuthi, Taung
  • Lozi (Silozi or Rozi)
  • Northern Sotho (Sesotho sa Leboa)
  • Birwa
  • Sepedic: includes Pedi and Tswapong:
  • Pedi: Gananwa, Kgaga, Khutswe, Kone, Kopa, Lobedu, Masemola, Matlala-Moletši, Pai, Phalaborwa, Pulana, Tlokwa, Tšhwene
  • Tswapong
  • South Ndebele
  • The various dialects of Tswana (Western Sotho), Southern Sotho and Northern Sotho are mutually intelligible. On more than one occasion, proposals have been put forward to create a unified Sotho-Tswana language.

    Northern Sotho, which appears largely to be a taxonomic holding category for what is Sotho-Tswana but neither identifiably Southern Sotho nor Tswana, subsumes highly varied dialects including Pedi (Sepedi), Tswapo (Setswapo), Lovedu (Khilobedu), Pai and Pulana. Maho (2002) leaves the "East Sotho" varieties of Kutswe, Pai, and Pulana unclassified within Sotho-Tswana.

    Lozi is spoken in Zambia and northeastern Namibia (in the Caprivi). It is distinct from the other Sotho-Tswana languages due to heavy linguistic influences from Luyaana, and possibly other Zambian and Caprivi languages. In the Guthrie work—as is now widely acknowledged—Lozi was misclassified as K.21.

    Writing System

    The sintu writing system, Ditema tsa Dinoko (also known in Zulu as Isibheqe Sohlamvu), for Southern Bantu languages, is used to represent all Sotho-Tswana languages consistently under one orthography. This includes those marginal languages that have never been standardised in the Latin alphabet, such as the "East Sotho" varieties (Pulana, Khutswe and Pai). For example, it contains a specific grapheme indicating retroflex or "cerebral" consonants, such as the retroflex ejective affricate occurring here in Pai:


    Sotho-Tswana languages Wikipedia

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