Khoisan speeches

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  • The Khoisan macro family is shown in blue
  • Distribution area of ​​the Khoisan languages ​​(yellow)

    As Khoisan languages languages in Southern Africa ( South Africa , Namibia , Angola and Botswana ) and in Tanzania called whose phoneme clicking sounds includes and not to the Niger-Congo languages , the nilosaharischen or Afro-Asiatic languages include. The Khoisan languages ​​do not form a genetic unit ( language family ), but rather comprise at least three language families as a linguistic area as well as some isolated languages . An original language common to all Khoisan languages ​​cannot be reconstructed .

    Khois-appealing peoples are the San , Khoikhoi , Damara and Nama . The Hadza and the Sandawe can also be found in Tanzania .

    The clicks and extensive phoneme inventories are characteristic of the Khoisansprachen (the record with 164 phonemes is held by Xóõ ). Nominal class systems are also typical .

    Before the expansion of the Bantu , Khoisan peoples also lived in parts of Africa further north. Some of the Bantu languages ​​in southern Africa and perhaps the Dahalo language spoken in Kenya also adopted click sounds from them. However, they are not regarded as Khoisan languages, as they can be assigned to other language families. According to controversial theories, these clicks could be relics of an “original language” of humanity.

    Language families of the Khoisan languages

    Within the Khoisan languages, the following language families can be reconstructed using the methods of comparative linguistics (the division into different individual languages ​​is complicated by the fact that many Khoisan languages ​​do not have their own name for their language. Therefore, the name often has to be created by linguists first is always clearly possible, a certain abundance of terms has been established - among other things, because different speakers give different information):



    • Sandawe (isolated, 40,000 speakers in Tanzania)


    Distribution of the San languages as mother tongue in Namibia (2011)
  • <1%
  • 1-5.99%
  • 6-10.99%
  • 11-20.99%
  • 21-30.99%
  • 31-49.99%
  • 50-75.99%
  • 76-90%
  • > 90%
  • Also known under the older name of Central Khoisan Languages .

    • Kwadi [According to T. Güldemann and R. Voßen, in Heine / Nurse (2000): isolated language]
    • Khoe
      • Khoekhoe
      • Tshu-Khwe (or Kalahari ) partly lost their clicks
        • East Tshu-Khwe (East Kalahari)
          • Shua (6,000 speakers, dialect continuum, includes Deti, Tsʼixa, ǀXaise and Ganádi)
          • Tsoa (9,300 speakers, dialect continuum, includes Cirecire and Kua)
        • West Tshu Khwe (West Kalahari)
          • Kxoe (11,000 speakers, dialect continuum, includes ǁAni and Buga)
          • Naro (14,000 speakers, dialect continuum)
          • Gǀui-Gǁana (4,500 speakers, dialect continuum, includes Gǀui , Gǁana and ǂHaba )


    Also known as the older name of South Khoisan languages . Of the two main branches of this family, only one language is spoken today.

    • ǃUi
      • Nǁng , Nǀuu (8 speakers in South Africa , dying out)
      • ǀXam
      • Vaal-Orange: ǂUngkue , ǁŨǁʼe
      • Outliers: ǁXegwi , ǃGãǃne
    • Taa
      • East: ǃXóõ (4,200 speakers, mainly in Botswana )
      • West: Nǀamani , Nǀuǁen
      • Lower Nosop: ǀʼAuni , ǀHaasi


    Also known as the older name of the North Khoisan languages .

    • Ju (Ju-language is a dialect continuum count with about 45,000 speakers. Among its more well-known dialects !Xũũ ( !Kung ) Ju|'hoan or ǂKx'auǁ'ein .)
    • ǂHõã (200 speakers in Botswana ) [According to T. Güldemann and R. Voßen, in Heine / Nurse (2000): isolated language]

    Possible internal relationships

    North and South Kohisan as well as ǂHõã have a lot of typological similarities with each other, without this having to be genetically determined, e.g. B. the basic word sequence subject-verb-object (SVO) and little inflection morphology in contrast to the central Khoisan languages, which have the word sequence subject-object-verb (SOV) and a rich inflection.

    A genetic relationship between Khoe and Kwadi and probably also Sandawe is assumed by Güldemann / Elderkin. Clues for this are z. B. the singular personal pronouns of these languages ​​(Proto-Khoe-Kwadi is a common, reconstructed precursor of Khoe and Kwadi):

    pronoun Sandawe Proto-Khoe-Kwadi
    1st person singular tsi * ti (Kwadi: tʃi)
    2nd person singular Ha- * sa
    3rd person (base) he- * xa- (Kwadi: ha-)
    3rd person masculine singular (suffix) -whom * -V [front] (front vowel) (Khoe: -bV, -mV)
    3rd person feminine singular (suffix) -su * -V [front] (front vowel) (Khoe: -sV)


    Khoisan was recognized as an official language in Zimbabwe in 2013 .


    • Joseph H. Greenberg : Africa as a linguistic area. In: William R. Bascom, Melville J. Herskovits (Eds.): Continuity and change in African cultures. University of Chicago Press 1959, pp. 15-27.
    • Isaac Schapera : The Khoisan Peoples of South Africa - Bushmen and Hottentots. Routledge , London 1960.
    • Otto Köhler: The Khoe-speaking Bushmen of the Kalahari. In: Research on general and regional history (Festschrift Kurt Kayser). Franz Steiner Verlag , Wiesbaden 1971.
    • EOJ Westphal : The click languages ​​of Southern and Eastern Africa. In: TA Sebeok (Ed.): Current Trends in Linguistics. Vol. 7: Linguistics in Sub-Saharan Africa . Mouton Publishers, The Hague 1971.
    • Anthony Traill: Phonetic and phonological studies of! Xóõ Bushman ( sources on Khoisan research ; Volume 1). Helmut Buske Verlag , Hamburg 1985, ISBN 3-87118-669-4 (dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand , Johannesburg 1981, 215 pages).
    • JC Winter : The Khoisan Family. In: Bernd Heine, Thilo C. Schadeberg, Ekkehard Wolff (eds.): The languages ​​of Africa . Helmut Buske Verlag , Hamburg 1981, pp. 329-374.
    • Rainer Voßen : The Khoe languages: a contribution to research into the linguistic history of Africa. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Cologne 1997.
    • Yvonne Treis: Names of Khoisan languages ​​and their variants. In: Matthias Schladt (Ed.): Language, identity, and conceptualization among the Khoisan . Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Cologne 1998.
    • Tom Güldemann, Rainer Voßen : Khoisan. In: Bernd Heine ; Derek Nurse (Ed.): African Languages: an introduction. Cambridge University Press , 2000, pp. 99-122.
    • Ernst Kausen : The language families of the world. Part 2: Africa - Indo-Pacific - Australia - America. Helmut Buske Verlag , Hamburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-87548-656-8 . (Chapter 5)
    • Peter E. Raper: Khoisan indigenous toponymic identity in South Africa . In: Ian D. Clark, Luise Hercus, Laura Kostanski: Indigenous and Minority Placenames: Australian and International Perspectives . ANU Press, Acton ACT 2014, pp. 381–398, online at (English, PDF)

    See also

    Web links

    Individual evidence

    1. Hartmut Traunmüller gives an overview of the arguments : Clicks and the idea of ​​a human protolanguage. In: PHONUM. 9, 2003, pp. 1–4 (pdf; 58 kB)
    2. Tore Janson: A Brief History of Languages . Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-8274-1778-7 , p. 25-29 .
    3. Tom Güldemann et al. Edward D. Elderkin: On external genealogical relationships of the Khoe family . ( Memento of the original from March 25, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
    4. Constitution of Zimbabwe ( Memento of the original from September 6, 2019 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at (English; PDF), accessed on October 15, 2016 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /