Tswana language

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Tswana (Setswana or Sitswana), is a language of Southern Africa, spoken by more than 4 million people and written in the Latin alphabet. Tswana is a Bantu language, belonging to the Niger-Congo language family. It is most closely related to two other languages in the Sotho language group, (Southern) Sotho and Northern Sotho (Sesotho sa Leboa). It has also been known as Beetjuans, Chuana (hence Bechuanaland), Coana, Cuana, and Sechuana.

Contents

Distribution

Tswana is spoken by a majority of people in Botswana[2], although Botswana's official language is English. In total, Botswana has just over a million[2] native Tswana speakers.

In South Africa, about 3.4 million people[3] speak Tswana. It is one of the eleven official languages nationwide. Until 1994, South African Tswana people were notionally citizens of Bophuthatswana, one of the few bantustans that actually became reality as planned by the Apartheid regime.

As opposed to the Northern and Southern Ndebele languages spoken in Zimbabwe and South Africa, respectively, there are no significant differences between standard Tswana as spoken in South Africa and standard Tswana as spoken in Botswana.

Apart from Botswana and South Africa, there are also (smaller) groups of Tswana speakers in Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Phonology

Consonants

Tswana has the following consonant inventory.[nb 1]

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