In past postings I have talked about South Africa being known as the rainbow nation. There are wide and varied cultures and languages present in the lives of its people. With eleven official languages in its repertoire, English is the international language. Afrikaans is of Dutch origin and the remaining nine are African. Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele, Sotho, Tsonga, Venda, Sepedi, Tswana, and Swati all with similarities and distinct differences, make up the official South African world of language.
The nine African languages are known in groups. This is similar to the European languages of Spanish, Italian and French, commonly referred to as romance languages. The largest of the groups is the Nguni group, which includes Xhosa, Zulu, Swati and Ndebele. Tsonga has been linked to this group yet ended up in its own category. Sotho-Tswana group is the second largest consisting of Tswana, Sepedi and Sotho. Venda is quite different and is more like the languages of Zimbabwe.
“Linguists have identified languages at risk of extinction. Many of the distinct click languages of South Africa are disappearing. Native tongues are fading away forever.” (National Geographic, Languages at Risk, July 2012)
As a child without ever knowing about Xhosa, I told my mother I would learn a ‘click language’. So it’s only right that I would end up becoming fluent in the Xhosa language. I wish to expand my knowledge by learning as many of these languages as possible, as I have already picked up on a bit of Zulu.