The Tswana language () is a Bantu language spoken in Southern Africa by about 8,2 million people. It is a Bantu languages, Bantu language belonging to the Niger–Congo languages, Niger–Congo language family within the Sotho-Tswana languages, Sotho-Tswana branch of Guthrie classification of Bantu languages#Zone S, Zone S (S.30), and is closely related to the Northern Sotho language, Northern Sotho and Sotho language, Southern Sotho languages, as well as the Kgalagadi language and the Lozi language. Setswana is an official language and lingua franca of Botswana and South Africa. Tswana-speakers are found in the north-west of South Africa, where four million people speak the language. An urbanised variety, which is part slang and not the formal Setswana, is known as Pretoria Sotho, and is the principal unique language of the city of Pretoria. It is a mixture of all Sotho languages. The three South African provinces with the most speakers are Gauteng (circa 11%), Northern Cape, and North West (South African province), North West (over 70%). Until 1994, South African Tswana people were notionally citizens of Bophuthatswana, one of the bantustans of the apartheid regime. The Setswana language in the Northwest Province has variations in which it is spoken according to the tribes found in the Tswana culture (Bakgatla, Barolong, Bakwena, Batlhaping, Bahurutshe, Bafokeng, Batlokwa, Bataung, Bakgatla, Bapo, to name a few); the written language remains the same. A small number of speakers are also found in Zimbabwe (unknown number) and Namibia (about 10,000 people).


The first European to describe the language was the Germans, German traveller Hinrich Lichtenstein, who lived among the Tswana people Batlhaping tribe, Batlhaping in 1806 although his work was not published until 1930. He mistakenly regarded Tswana as a dialect of the Xhosa language, Xhosa, and the name that he used for the language ''"Beetjuana"'' may also have covered the Northern Sotho language, Northern and Sotho language, Southern Sotho languages. The first major work on Tswana was carried out by the British missionary Robert Moffat (missionary), Robert Moffat, who had also lived among the Batlhaping tribe, Batlhaping, and published ''Bechuana Spelling Book'' and ''A Bechuana Catechism'' in 1826. In the following years, he published several other books of the Bible, and in 1857, he was able to publish a complete translation of the Bible . The first grammar of Tswana was published in 1833 by the missionary James Archbell although it was modelled on a Xhosa grammar. The first grammar of Tswana which regarded it as a separate language from Xhosa (but still not as a separate language from the Northern and Southern Sotho languages) was published by the French missionary E. Casalis in 1841. He changed his mind later, and in a publication from 1882, he noted that the Northern and Southern Sotho languages were distinct from Tswana. Sol Plaatje, Solomon Plaatje, a South African intellectual and linguist, was one of the first writers to extensively write in and about the Tswana language.



The vowel, vowel inventory of Tswana can be seen below. Some dialects have two additional vowels, the close-mid vowels and .


The consonant, consonant inventory of Tswana can be seen below. The consonant is merely an allophone of , when the latter is followed by the vowels or . Two more sounds, v and z , exist only in loanwords. Tswana also has three click consonants, but these are only used in interjections or ideophones, and tend only to be used by the older generation, and are therefore falling out of use. The three click consonants are the dental click , orthographically ; the lateral click , orthographically ; and the palatal click , orthographically . There are some minor dialect, dialectal variations among the consonants between speakers of Tswana. For instance, is realised as either or by many speakers; is realised as in most dialects; and and are realised as and in northern dialects.


stress (linguistics), Stress is fixed in Tswana and thus always falls on the ultima (linguistics), penult of a word, although some compound (linguistics), compounds may receive a secondary stress in the first part of the word. The syllable on which the stress falls is lengthened. Thus, woman, mosadi (woman) is realised as .


Tswana has two tone (linguistics), tones, high and low, but the latter has a much wider distribution in words than the former. Tones are not marked orthography, orthographically, which may lead to ambiguity. : go bua ''"to speak"'' : go bua ''"to skin an animal"'' : o bua Setswana ''"He speaks Setswana"'' : o bua Setswana ''"You speak Setswana"'' An important feature of the tones is the so-called spreading of the high tone. If a syllable bears a high tone, the following two syllables will have high tones unless they are at the end of the word. : simolola > ''"to begin"'' : simologêla > ''"to begin for/at"''



Nouns in Tswana are grouped into nine noun classes and one subclass, each having different prefixes. The nine classes and their respective prefixes can be seen below, along with a short note regarding the common characteristics of most nouns within their respective classes. Some nouns may be found in several classes. For instance, many class 1 nouns are also found in class 1a, class 3, class 4, and class 5.




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External links

Peace Corps Botswana: An Introduction to the Setswana LanguageSetswana: Grammar Handbook. Peace Corps Language Handbook Series
* * *https://wisc.pb.unizin.org/lctlresources/chapter/about-setswana/ {{DEFAULTSORT:Tswana language Tswana language, Tswana, Sotho-Tswana languages Subject–verb–object languages Languages of Botswana Languages of South Africa Languages of Zimbabwe Languages of Namibia