Tjwao dialect

Last updated

Native to Zimbabwe
Native speakers
<20 [1]
  • Kalahari (Tshu–Khwe)
Official status
Official language in
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe (as "Koisan")
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog tjwa1234

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. [1] [2] [3] 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.

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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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Languages of Botswana</span>

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  1. 1 2 "Tshawo, the Endangered Language of Zimbabwe" (PDF). 2015.
  2. Dialogue, Radio. "Khosian Tshwao language in near extinction" . Retrieved 16 June 2017.[ permanent dead link ]
  3. "Daunting task in crafting San language syllabus". Southern Eye. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2017.