Official language in
|Zimbabwe (as "Koisan")|
Tjwao (formerly Tshwao) is an endangered Khoe language spoken by fewer than 8 people in the Tsholotsho District of Zimbabwe, all over 60 years of age.A slightly larger group of 100 have passive or partial knowledge of the language.
It is the only Khoisan language in Zimbabwe, where "Koisan" is an officially recognised language in the constitution.
Tjwao belongs to the Tshwa (Tsoa-Kua) cluster of East Kalahari Khoe languages. It is very similar to the varieties of Ganade noted by Westphal and Traill. Although mentioned by scholars for several decades, documentation of the language only began in 2012.
Click consonants, or clicks, are speech sounds that occur as consonants in many languages of Southern Africa and in three languages of East Africa. Examples familiar to English-speakers are the tut-tut or tsk! tsk! used to express disapproval or pity, the tchick! used to spur on a horse, and the clip-clop! sound children make with their tongue to imitate a horse trotting.
The Khoisan languages are a group of African languages originally classified together by Joseph Greenberg. Khoisan languages share click consonants and do not belong to other African language families. For much of the 20th century, they were thought to be genealogically related to each other, but this is no longer accepted. They are now held to comprise three distinct language families and two language isolates.
Zimbabwe, officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the south-west, Zambia to the north, and Mozambique to the east. The capital and largest city is Harare. The second largest city is Bulawayo. A country of roughly 15 million people, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages, with English, Shona, and Ndebele the most common. It was once referred to by Samora Machel as the "Jewel of Africa" for its great prosperity during the early years of Robert Mugabe.
The languages of Africa are divided into several major language families:
Khoisan, or Khoe-Sān, according to the contemporary Khoekhoegowab orthography, is a catch-all term for those indigenous peoples of Southern Africa who do not speak one of the Bantu languages, combining the Khoekhoen and the Sān or Sākhoen.
Khoekhoen are the traditionally nomadic pastoralist indigenous population of southwestern Africa. They are often grouped with the hunter-gatherer San peoples. The designation "Khoekhoe" is actually a kare or praise address, not an ethnic endonym, but it has been used in the literature as an ethnic term for Khoe-speaking peoples of Southern Africa, particularly pastoralist groups, such as the !Ora, !Gona, Nama, Xiri and ǂNūkhoe nations.
The Khoekhoe language, also known by the ethnic terms Nama (Namagowab), Damara (ǂNūkhoegowab), or Nama/Damara and formerly as Hottentot, is the most widespread of the non-Bantu languages of Southern Africa that make heavy use of click consonants and therefore were formerly classified as Khoisan, a grouping now recognized as obsolete. It belongs to the Khoe language family, and is spoken in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa primarily by three ethnic groups: Namakhoen, ǂNūkhoen, and Haiǁomkhoen.
Khwe is a dialect continuum of the Khoe family of Namibia, Angola, Botswana, South Africa, and parts of Zambia, with some 8,000 speakers.
Tsoa or Tshwa, also known as Kua and Hiechware, is an East Kalahari Khoe dialect cluster spoken by several thousand people in Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Shua, or Shwakhwe, is a Khoe language of Botswana. It is spoken in central Botswana, and in parts of the Chobe District in the extreme north of Botswana. There are approximately 6,000 speakers and approximately 2,000 out of those 6,000 speakers are native speakers. The linguistic variety spoken in the township of Nata in northeast Botswana is highly endangered and spoken fluently only by adults over about thirty years of age. The term Shwakhwe means people (khwe) from the salty area (shwa).
ǃOrakobab or Khoemana, also known as Korana, ǃOra, or Griqua, is a moribund Khoe language of South Africa.
Kwadi was a "click language" once spoken in the southwest corner of Angola. It went extinct some time around 1960. There were only fifty Kwadi in the 1950s, of whom only 4–5 were competent speakers of the language. Three partial speakers were known in 1965, but in 1981 no speakers could be found.
Sandawe is a language spoken by about 60,000 Sandawe people in the Dodoma Region of Tanzania. Sandawe's use of click consonants, a rare feature shared with only two other languages of East Africa – Hadza and Dahalo, had been the basis of its classification as a member of the defunct Khoisan family of Southern Africa since Albert Drexel in the 1920s. Recent investigations however suggest that Sandawe may be related to the Khoe family regardless of the validity of Khoisan as a whole. A discussion of Sandawe's linguistic classification can be found in Sands (1998).
The Tuu languages, or Taa–ǃKwilanguages, are a language family consisting of two language clusters spoken in Botswana and South Africa. The relationship between the two clusters is not doubted, but is distant. The name Tuu comes from a word common to both branches of the family for "person".
The Khoi languages are the largest of the non-Bantu language families indigenous to Southern Africa. They were once considered to be a branch of a Khoisan language family, and were known as Central Khoisan in that scenario. Though Khoisan is now rejected as a family, the name is retained as a term of convenience.
Many languages are spoken, or historically have been spoken, in Zimbabwe. Since the adoption of its 2013 Constitution, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages, namely Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Chewa. The country's main languages are Shona, spoken by over 70% of the population, and Ndebele, spoken by roughly 20%. English is the country's lingua franca, used in government and business and as the main medium of instruction in schools. English is the first language of most white Zimbabweans, and is the second language of a majority of black Zimbabweans. Historically, a minority of white Zimbabweans spoke Afrikaans, Greek, Italian, Polish, and Portuguese, among other languages, while Gujarati and Hindi could be found amongst the country's Indian population. Deaf Zimbabweans commonly use one of several varieties of Zimbabwean Sign Language, with some using American Sign Language. Zimbabwean language data is based on estimates, as Zimbabwe has never conducted a census that enumerated people by language.
The official language of Botswana is English, while Tswana is considered to be a national language. English, which was inherited from colonial rule, is the language of official business and most written communication. Most of the population speak Tswana, but over 20 smaller languages are also spoken. Some of the country's languages are in danger of becoming extinct.
Tanzania is a multilingual country. There are many languages spoken in the country, but no one language is spoken natively by a majority or a large plurality of the population. Swahili and English, the latter of which was inherited from colonial rule, are widely spoken as lingua francas. They serve as working languages in the country, with Swahili being the official national language. There are more speakers of Swahili than of English in Tanzania.
The Khoe–Kwadi languages are a family consisting of the Khoe languages of southern Africa and the poorly attested extinct Kwadi language of Angola. The relationship has been worked out by Tom Güldemann, Edward Elderkin and Anne-Maria Fehn.