- Xhosa language
Eastern Cape Province, Western Cape Province
nation= flagicon|South Africa
Xhosa (pronounced|ˈkǁʰoːsa (audio|Xhosa.ogg|Audio), "isiXhosa") is one of the
official languages of South Africa. Xhosa is spoken by approximately 7.9 million people, or about 18% of the South African population. Like most Bantu languages, Xhosa is a tonal language, that is, the same sequence of consonants and vowels can have different meanings when said with a rising or falling or high or low intonation. One of the most distinctive features of the language is the prominence of click consonants; The word "Xhosa," the name of the language itself, begins with a click.
Xhosa is written using a
Latin alphabet-based system. Three letters are used to indicate the basic clicks: "c" for dental clicks, "x" for lateral clicks, and "q" for palatal clicks (for a more detailed explanation, see the table of consonant phonemes, below). Tones are not indicated in the written form.
Affiliation and distribution
Xhosa is the southernmost branch of the
Ngunilanguages, related to Swati, Northern Ndebele[http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/Xhosa-english/ Online Xhosa-English Dictionary] ] and Zulu. There is some mutual intelligibility with Swati, Northern Ndebele and Zulu, a Northern Ndebele and Xhosa share many linguistic features. Nguni languages are in turn part of a larger group of Bantu languages, and as such Xhosa is related to languages spoken across much of Africa [http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/Profile.aspx?LangID=21&menu=004 UCLA Xhosa Language Materials Project] ] .
Xhosa is the most widely distributed African language in South Africa, while the most widely spoken is Zulu. Xhosa is the second most common home language in South Africa as a whole. As of|2003 the majority of Xhosa speakers, approximately 5.3 million, live in the
Eastern Cape, followed by the Western Cape(approximately 2 million), Gauteng(671,045), the Free State(246,192), KwaZulu-Natal(219,826), North West (214,461), Mpumalanga(46,553), the Northern Cape(51,228), and Limpopo(14,225) [http://www.southafrica.info/ess_info/sa_glance/demographics/census-main.htm South Africa Population grows to 44.8 Million.] ] . A minority of Xhosa speakers (18,000) exists in Quthing District, Lesotho. [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=xho Ethnologue report for language code:xho] ]
Xhosa has several
Ngqika(Nqqika, considered "standard")
Hlubi- There's still a debate about the whether the Hlubis belong to the Zulu, the Xhosaor they have their own King
There is some debate among scholars as to what exactly the divisions between the dialects are.
Xhosa-speaking peoples have inhabited coastal regions of southeastern Africa since before the sixteenth century. The members of the ethnic group that speaks Xhosa refer to themselves as the
amaXhosaand call their language isiXhosa ("isi"- is a prefix relating to languages), while the language is most commonly known as "Xhosa" in English.
Almost all languages with clicks are
Khoisan languagesand the presence of clicks in Xhosa demonstrates the strong historical interaction with its Khoisan neighbours. An estimated 15% of the vocabulary is of Khoekhoe (Khoisan) origin . In the modern period, Xhosa has also borrowed from both Afrikaansand English.
Role in modern society
The role of African languages in South Africa is complex and ambiguous. Their use in education has been governed by legislation, beginning with the
Bantu Education Act of 1953.
At present, Xhosa is used as the main language of instruction in many
primary schools and some secondary schools, but is largely replaced by English after the early primary grades, even in schools mainly serving Xhosa-speaking communities. The language is also studied as a subject.
The language of instruction at universities in South Africa is English or Afrikaans, and Xhosa is taught as a subject, both for native and non-native speakers.
Literary works, including prose and poetry, are available in Xhosa, as are newspapers and magazines. The first
Bibletranslation was in 1859, produced in part by Henry Hare Dugmore. The South African Broadcasting Corporationbroadcasts in Xhosa on both radio (on Umhlobo Wenene FM) and television, and films, plays and music are also produced in the language. The best-known performer of Xhosa songs outside South Africa is Miriam Makeba, whose "Click Song #1" ("Qongqothwane" in Xhosa) and "Click Song #2" ("Baxabene Oxamu") are known for their large number of click sounds.
Xhosa is an
agglutinativelanguage featuring an array of prefixes and suffixes that are attached to root words. As in other Bantu languages, Xhosa nouns are classified into fifteen morphological classes (or genders), with different prefixes for singular and plural. Various parts of speech that qualify a nounmust agree with the noun according to its gender. These agreements usually reflect part of the original class that it is agreeing with. Constituent word order is Subject Verb Object.
: ukudlala - to play: ukubona - to see
: umntwana - a child : abantwana - children
: umntwana uyadlala - the child plays: abantwana bayadlala - the children play
: indoda - a man: amadoda - men
: indoda iya"m"bona "um"ntwana - the man sees the child: amadoda aya"ba"bona "aba"ntwana - the men see the children: Zonke zinto ezilungile zivela kuThixo - all things that are good proceed from God.
Xhosa has an inventory of ten vowels: IPA| [a] , IPA| [ɛ] , IPA| [i] , IPA| [ɔ] and IPA| [u] , both long and short, written "a", "e", "i", "o" and "u".
Xhosa is a
tone languagewith two inherent tones: low and high. Tones are frequently not marked in the written language, but when they are, they are "a" [à] , "á" [á] , "â" [áà] , "ä" [àá] . Long vowels are phonemic, but are usually not written, except for "â" and "ä".
Xhosa is rich in uncommon
consonants. Besides pulmonic egressive sounds, as in English, it has fifteen clicks(by way of comparison, the Juǀʼhoan language, spoken by roughly 10,000 people in Botswanaand Namibiahas 48 clicks, while the ǃXóõ language, with roughly 4,000 speakers in Botswana, has 83 click sounds, the largest consonant inventory of any known language), plus ejectives and an implosive. The same sounds occur in Zulu, but are used less frequently than in Xhosa.
dental clicks (represented by the letter "c") are made with the tongue on the back of the teeth, and are similar to the sound represented in English by "tut-tut" or "tsk-tsk" to reprimand someone. The second five are lateral (represented by the letter "x"), made by the tongue at the sides of the mouth, and are similar to the sound used to call horses. The remaining five are alveolar (represented by the letter "q"), made with the tip of the tongue at the roof of the mouth, and sound something like a cork pulled from a bottle.
The following table lists the consonant phonemes of the language, giving the pronunciation in IPA on the left, and the orthography on the right:
Two additional consonants, IPA| [r] and IPA| [r̤] , are found in borrowings. Both are spelled "r".
Two additional consonants, IPA| [ʒ] and IPA| [ʒ̈] , are found in borrowings. Both are spelled "zh".
Two additional consonants, IPA| [ʣ] and IPA| [ʣ̤] , are found in loans. Both are spelled "dz".
An additional consonant, IPA| [ŋ̈] is found in loans. It is spelled "ngh".
In addition to the ejective affricate IPA| [ʧʼ] , the spelling "tsh" may also be used for either of the aspirated affricates IPA| [ʦʰ] and IPA| [ʧʰ] .
The breathy voiced glottal fricative IPA| [ɦ̤] is sometimes spelled "h".
The "breathy voiced" clicks, plosives, and affricates are actually plain voiced, but the following vowel is murmured. That is, "da" is pronounced IPA| [da̤] .
Consonant changes with prenasalization
When consonants are prenasalized, their pronunciation and spelling may change. Murmur no longer shifts to the following vowel. Fricatives become affricates, and if voiceless, become ejectives as well, at least with some speakers: "mf" is pronounced IPA| [ɱp̪f’] ; "ndl" is pronounced IPA| [ndɮ] ;"n+hl" becomes "ntl" IPA| [ntɬʼ] ; "n+z" becomes "ndz" IPA| [ndz] , "etc." The orthographic "b" in "mb" is a voiced plosive, IPA| [mb] .
When voiceless clicks "c, x, q" are prenasalized, a silent letter "k" is added – "nkc, nkx, nkq" – so as to prevent confusion with the nasal clicks "nc, nx, nq".
Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" is part of the national anthem of South Africa, national anthem of Tanzaniaand Zambia, and the former anthem of Zimbabweand Namibia. It is a Xhosa hymn written by Enoch Sontongain 1897. The first chorus is:
: "Nkosi, sikelel' iAfrika;": "Malupakam'upondo lwayo;": "Yiva imithandazo yethu": "Usisikelele."
: Lord, bless Africa;: May her horn rise high up;: Hear Thou our prayers And bless us.
Article 1 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
: "Bonke abantu bazalwa bekhululekile belingana ngesidima nangokweemfanelo. Bonke abantu banesiphiwo sesazela nesizathu sokwenza isenzo ongathanda ukuba senziwe kumzalwane wakho."
: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of fellowship.
"Qongqothwane" ("The Knock-Knock Beetle," known in English as "The Click Song") is a Xhosa wedding song best known as performed by Miriam Makeba. Note the frequent occurrence of palatal clicks:
: "Igqira lendlela nguqongqothwane" : "Igqira lendlela kuthwa nguqongqothwane" : "Sebeqabele gqithapha bathi nguqongqothwane" : "Sebeqabele gqithapha bathi nguqongqothwane."
: The diviner of the roadways is the knock-knock beetle: The diviner of the roadways is said to be the knock-knock beetle: It has passed up the steep hill, the knock-knock beetle: It has passed up the steep hill, the knock-knock beetle
Common words and phrases
: Molo - hello (to one person): Molweni - hello (to more than one person): Unjani? - how are you? (one person): Ninjani? - how are you? (more than one person): Ndiphilile - I am well: Siphilile - we are well: Ngubani igama lakho? - What is your name?: Unangaphi? - How old are you?: Malini na? - How much money?: Yintoni le? - What is this? : Ngubani xesha? - What is the time?: Kuyabanda ngaphandle! - It is cold outside!: Enkosi - thank you: Uxolo - excuse me : Ngxesi - sorry: Nceda - please: Andiqondi/Andikuva - I don't understand: Andiyazi - I don't know: Ndithetha isiXhosa kancinci nje - I only speak a little Xhosa: Ndiyagoduka ngoku - I am going home now : Intwasahlobo ifikile - Spring has arrived: Ndihamba ngebhasi - I go by bus : Ndilahlekile - I am lost: Ndingakwenzela ntoni? - What can i do for you? : Vula iincwadi zakho - Open your books (to one person): Vulani iincwadi zenu - Open your books (to more than one person)
Henry Hare Dugmore, the first translator of the Scriptures into Xhosa
U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, a 2005Xhosa film adaptation of Bizet's Carmen
UCLA Language Materials Project, an online project for teaching languages, including Xhosa.
* [http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/Profile.aspx?LangID=21&menu=004 Xhosa language profile ] [http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/ (at UCLA Language Materials Project)]
* [http://www.ethnologue.org/show_language.asp?code=xho Ethnologue report for Xhosa] "
* [http://www.xhosadictionary.com Xhosa-English Dictionary]
* [http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/Xhosa-english/ A very short Xhosa -> English dictionary]
* [http://www.learnxhosa.com Encouraging awareness of Xhosa culture and language]
* [http://www.panafril10n.org/wikidoc/pmwiki.php/PanAfrLoc/Xhosa PanAfrican L10n page on Xhosa]
* [http://www.google.com/intl/xh/ Google in Xhosa]
* [http://www.uwfm.co.za/portal/site/umhlobowenenefm/ Umholobo Wenene FM]
* [http://forum.learnxhosa.com/index.php? Xhosa learning resources]
* [http://translate.org.za/content/view/1610/54/ Spell checker for OpenOffice.org and Mozilla] , [http://translate.org.za/content/view/17/32/ OpenOffice.org] , [http://translate.org.za/content/view/1611/54/ Mozilla Firefox web-browser] , and [http://translate.org.za/content/view/1612/54/ Mozilla Thunderbird email program] in Xhosa
* [http://translate.org.za/ Translate.org.za] Project to translate Free and Open Source Software into all the official languages of South Africa including Xhosa
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
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Xhosa — Xho|sa1 [ kousə, kɔsə ] noun 1. ) uncount an African language that people speak in South Africa 2. ) count a member of a Bantu people of South Africa Xhosa Xho|sa 2 [ kousə, kɔsə ] adjective relating to the Xhosa language, culture, or people … Usage of the words and phrases in modern English
Xhosa — [kō′sä, kō′zä] n. pl. Xhosas or Xhosa 1. a member of a people living mainly in S South Africa 2. the Bantu language of this people, closely related to Zulu adj. of the Xhosas or their language or culture: Also sp. Xosa … English World dictionary
Xhosa — /koh seuh, zeuh, kaw /, n., pl. Xhosas, (esp. collectively) Xhosa for 1. 1. a member of a Nguni people of eastern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa. 2. the Bantu language of the Xhosa. Also, Xosa. * * * People living primarily in East Cape… … Universalium
Xhosa — UK [ˈkɔːsə] / US [ˈkoʊsə] / US [ˈkɔsə] noun Word forms Xhosa : singular Xhosa plural Xhosas or Xhosa 1) [uncountable] an African language that people speak in South Africa 2) [countable] a member of a Bantu people of South Africa Derived word:… … English dictionary
Xhosa — noun Etymology: Xhosa xhosa (as in umXhosa a Xhosa person) Date: 1801 1. a member of a Bantu speaking people of Eastern Cape province 2. a Bantu language of the Xhosas … New Collegiate Dictionary