Khoisan languages

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"San language" redirects here. Khoisan languages_sentence_0

For the Mande language spoken in Burkina Faso, see Samo language (Burkina). Khoisan languages_sentence_1

Khoisan languages_table_infobox_0

KhoisanKhoisan languages_header_cell_0_0_0

distributionKhoisan languages_header_cell_0_1_0

Kalahari Desert, central TanzaniaKhoisan languages_cell_0_1_1
Linguistic classificationKhoisan languages_header_cell_0_2_0 (term of convenience)Khoisan languages_cell_0_2_1
SubdivisionsKhoisan languages_header_cell_0_3_0 Khoisan languages_cell_0_3_1
ISO 639-2 / 5Khoisan languages_header_cell_0_4_0 Khoisan languages_cell_0_4_1
GlottologKhoisan languages_header_cell_0_5_0 NoneKhoisan languages_cell_0_5_1

The Khoisan /ˈkɔɪsɑːn/ languages (also Khoesan or Khoesaan) are a group of African languages originally classified together by Joseph Greenberg. Khoisan languages_sentence_2

Khoisan languages share click consonants and do not belong to other African language families. Khoisan languages_sentence_3

For much of the 20th century, they were thought to be genealogically related to each other, but this is no longer accepted. Khoisan languages_sentence_4

They are now held to comprise three distinct language families and two language isolates. Khoisan languages_sentence_5

All Khoisan languages but two are indigenous to southern Africa and belong to three language families. Khoisan languages_sentence_6

The Khoe family appears to have migrated to southern Africa not long before the Bantu expansion. Khoisan languages_sentence_7

Ethnically, their speakers are the Khoikhoi and the San (Bushmen). Khoisan languages_sentence_8

Two languages of east Africa, those of the Sandawe and Hadza, originally were also classified as Khoisan, although their speakers are ethnically neither Khoikhoi nor San. Khoisan languages_sentence_9

Before the Bantu expansion, Khoisan languages, or languages like them, were likely spread throughout southern and eastern Africa. Khoisan languages_sentence_10

They are currently restricted to the Kalahari Desert, primarily in Namibia and Botswana, and to the Rift Valley in central Tanzania. Khoisan languages_sentence_11

Most of the languages are endangered, and several are moribund or extinct. Khoisan languages_sentence_12

Most have no written record. Khoisan languages_sentence_13

The only widespread Khoisan language is Khoekhoe (or Nàmá) of Namibia, with a quarter of a million speakers; Sandawe in Tanzania is second in number with some 40–80,000, some monolingual; and the ǃKung language of the northern Kalahari spoken by some 16,000 or so people. Khoisan languages_sentence_14

Language use is quite strong among the 20,000 speakers of Naro, half of whom speak it as a second language. Khoisan languages_sentence_15

Khoisan languages are best known for their use of click consonants as phonemes. Khoisan languages_sentence_16

These are typically written with characters such as ǃ and ǂ. Khoisan languages_sentence_17

Clicks are quite versatile as consonants, as they involve two articulations of the tongue which can operate partially independently. Khoisan languages_sentence_18

Consequently, the languages with the greatest numbers of consonants in the world are Khoisan. Khoisan languages_sentence_19

The Juǀʼhoan language has 48 click consonants among nearly as many non-click consonants, strident and pharyngealized vowels, and four tones. Khoisan languages_sentence_20

The ǃXóõ and ǂHõã languages are even more complex. Khoisan languages_sentence_21

Grammatically, the southern Khoisan languages are generally analytic, having several inflectional morphemes, but not as many as the click languages of Tanzania. Khoisan languages_sentence_22

Validity Khoisan languages_section_0

Khoisan was proposed as one of the four families of African languages in Joseph Greenberg's classification (1949–1954, revised in 1963). Khoisan languages_sentence_23

However, linguists who study Khoisan languages reject their unity, and the name "Khoisan" is used by them as a term of convenience without any implication of linguistic validity, much as "Papuan" and "Australian" are. Khoisan languages_sentence_24

It has been suggested that the similarities of the Tuu and Kxʼa families are due to a southern African Sprachbund rather than a genealogical relationship, whereas the Khoe (or perhaps Kwadi–Khoe) family is a more recent migrant to the area, and may be related to Sandawe in East Africa. Khoisan languages_sentence_25

Ernst Oswald Johannes Westphal is known for his early rejection of the Khoisan language family (Starostin 2003). Khoisan languages_sentence_26

Bonny Sands (1998) concluded that the family is not demonstrable with current evidence. Khoisan languages_sentence_27

Anthony Traill at first accepted Khoisan (Traill 1986), but by 1998 concluded that it could not be demonstrated with current data and methods, rejecting it as based on a single typological criterion: the presence of clicks. Khoisan languages_sentence_28

Dimmendaal (2008) summarized the general view with, "it has to be concluded that Greenberg's intuitions on the genetic unity of Khoisan could not be confirmed by subsequent research. Khoisan languages_sentence_29

Today, the few scholars working on these languages treat the three [southern groups] as independent language families that cannot or can no longer be shown to be genetically related" (p. 841). Khoisan languages_sentence_30

Starostin (2013) accepts a relationship between Sandawe and Khoi is plausible, as is one between Tuu and Kxʼa, but sees no indication of a relationship between Sandawe and Khoi on the one hand and Tuu and Kxʼa on the other, or between any of them and Hadza. Khoisan languages_sentence_31

Janina Brutt-Griffler claims, "given that such colonial borders were generally arbitrarily drawn, they grouped large numbers of ethnic groups that spoke many languages." Khoisan languages_sentence_32

She hypothesizes that this took place within efforts to prevent the spread of English during European colonization and prevent the entrance of the majority into the middle class. Khoisan languages_sentence_33

Khoisan language variation Khoisan languages_section_1

Anthony Traill noted the Khoisan languages' extreme variation. Khoisan languages_sentence_34

Despite their shared clicks, the Khoisan languages diverge significantly from each other. Khoisan languages_sentence_35

Traill demonstrated this linguistic diversity in the data presented in the below table. Khoisan languages_sentence_36

The first two columns include words from the two Khoisan language isolates, Sandawe and Hadza. Khoisan languages_sentence_37

The following three are languages from the Khoe family, the Kxʼa family, and the Tuu family, respectively. Khoisan languages_sentence_38

Khoisan languages_table_general_1

Khoisan language words, as reported in 2005 by BritannicaKhoisan languages_table_caption_1
Khoisan languages_header_cell_1_0_0 SandaweKhoisan languages_header_cell_1_0_1 HadzaKhoisan languages_header_cell_1_0_2 KhoeKhoisan languages_header_cell_1_0_3 JuKhoisan languages_header_cell_1_0_4 ǃXóõKhoisan languages_header_cell_1_0_5
'person'Khoisan languages_cell_1_1_0 ǀnomeseKhoisan languages_cell_1_1_1 ʼúnùKhoisan languages_cell_1_1_2 khoeKhoisan languages_cell_1_1_3 ʒúKhoisan languages_cell_1_1_4 tâaKhoisan languages_cell_1_1_5
'man'Khoisan languages_cell_1_2_0 ǀnomeseKhoisan languages_cell_1_2_1 ɬemeKhoisan languages_cell_1_2_2 kʼákhoeKhoisan languages_cell_1_2_3 ǃhõáKhoisan languages_cell_1_2_4 tâa á̰aKhoisan languages_cell_1_2_5
'child'Khoisan languages_cell_1_3_0 ǁnoόKhoisan languages_cell_1_3_1 waʼaKhoisan languages_cell_1_3_2 ǀūáKhoisan languages_cell_1_3_3 damaKhoisan languages_cell_1_3_4 ʘàaKhoisan languages_cell_1_3_5
'ear'Khoisan languages_cell_1_4_0 kékéKhoisan languages_cell_1_4_1 ɦatʃʼapitʃʼiKhoisan languages_cell_1_4_2 ǂéeKhoisan languages_cell_1_4_3 ǀhúíKhoisan languages_cell_1_4_4 ǂnùhãKhoisan languages_cell_1_4_5
'eye'Khoisan languages_cell_1_5_0 ǀgweéKhoisan languages_cell_1_5_1 ʼákhwaKhoisan languages_cell_1_5_2 ǂxáiKhoisan languages_cell_1_5_3 ǀgàʼáKhoisan languages_cell_1_5_4 ǃʼûĩKhoisan languages_cell_1_5_5
'ostrich'Khoisan languages_cell_1_6_0 saʼútàKhoisan languages_cell_1_6_1 kénànguKhoisan languages_cell_1_6_2 ǀgároKhoisan languages_cell_1_6_3 dsùúKhoisan languages_cell_1_6_4 qûjeKhoisan languages_cell_1_6_5
'giraffe'Khoisan languages_cell_1_7_0 tsʼámasuKhoisan languages_cell_1_7_1 tsʼókwànaKhoisan languages_cell_1_7_2 ǃnábeKhoisan languages_cell_1_7_3 ǂoahKhoisan languages_cell_1_7_4 ǁqhūũKhoisan languages_cell_1_7_5
'buffalo'Khoisan languages_cell_1_8_0 ǀeuKhoisan languages_cell_1_8_1 nákʼómaKhoisan languages_cell_1_8_2 ǀâoKhoisan languages_cell_1_8_3 ǀàòKhoisan languages_cell_1_8_4 ǀqháiKhoisan languages_cell_1_8_5
'to hear'Khoisan languages_cell_1_9_0 khéʼéKhoisan languages_cell_1_9_1 ǁnáʼeKhoisan languages_cell_1_9_2 kúmKhoisan languages_cell_1_9_3 tsʼàʼáKhoisan languages_cell_1_9_4 tá̰aKhoisan languages_cell_1_9_5
'to drink'Khoisan languages_cell_1_10_0 tsʼeeKhoisan languages_cell_1_10_1 Khoisan languages_cell_1_10_2 kxʼâaKhoisan languages_cell_1_10_3 tʃìiKhoisan languages_cell_1_10_4 kxʼāhãKhoisan languages_cell_1_10_5

Families Khoisan languages_section_2

The branches that were once considered part of so-called Khoisan are now considered independent families, since it has not been demonstrated that they are related according to the standard comparative method. Khoisan languages_sentence_39

See Khoe languages for speculations on the linguistic history of the region. Khoisan languages_sentence_40

Hadza Khoisan languages_section_3

Main article: Hadza language Khoisan languages_sentence_41

With about 800 speakers in Tanzania, Hadza is no longer seen as a Khoisan language and appears to be unrelated to any other language. Khoisan languages_sentence_42

Genetically, the Hadza people are unrelated to the Khoisan peoples of Southern Africa, and their closest relatives may be among the Pygmies of Central Africa. Khoisan languages_sentence_43

Sandawe Khoisan languages_section_4

Main article: Sandawe language Khoisan languages_sentence_44

There is some indication that Sandawe (about 40,000 speakers in Tanzania) may be related to the Khoe family, such as a congruent pronominal system and some good Swadesh-list matches, but not enough to establish regular sound correspondences. Khoisan languages_sentence_45

Sandawe is not related to Hadza, despite their proximity. Khoisan languages_sentence_46

Khoe Khoisan languages_section_5

Main article: Khoe–Kwadi languages Khoisan languages_sentence_47

The Khoe family is both the most numerous and diverse family of Khoisan languages, with seven living languages and over a quarter million speakers. Khoisan languages_sentence_48

Although little Kwadi data is available, proto-Khoe–Kwadi reconstructions have been made for pronouns and some basic vocabulary. Khoisan languages_sentence_49

Khoisan languages_unordered_list_0

  • ?Khoe–KwadiKhoisan languages_item_0_0
    • Kwadi (extinct)Khoisan languages_item_0_1
    • KhoeKhoisan languages_item_0_2
      • Khoekhoe This branch appears to have been affected by the Kxʼa–Tuu sprachbund.Khoisan languages_item_0_3
        • Nama (ethnonyms Khoekhoen, Nama, Damara) (a dialect cluster including ǂAakhoe and Haiǁom)Khoisan languages_item_0_4
        • Eini (extinct)Khoisan languages_item_0_5
        • South KhoekhoeKhoisan languages_item_0_6
          • Korana (moribund)Khoisan languages_item_0_7
          • Xiri (moribund; a dialect cluster)Khoisan languages_item_0_8
      • Tshu–Khwe (or Kalahari) Many of these languages have undergone partial click loss.Khoisan languages_item_0_9
        • East Tshu–Khwe (East Kalahari)Khoisan languages_item_0_10
          • Shua (a dialect cluster including Deti, Tsʼixa, ǀXaise, and Ganádi)Khoisan languages_item_0_11
          • Tsoa (a dialect cluster including Cire Cire and Kua)Khoisan languages_item_0_12
        • West Tshu–Khwe (West Kalahari)Khoisan languages_item_0_13
          • Kxoe (a dialect cluster including ǁAni and Buga)Khoisan languages_item_0_14
          • Naro (a dialect cluster, including ǂHaba)Khoisan languages_item_0_15
          • Gǁana–Gǀwi (a dialect cluster including Gǁana and Gǀwi)Khoisan languages_item_0_16

A Haiǁom language is listed in most Khoisan references. Khoisan languages_sentence_50

A century ago the Haiǁom people spoke a Ju dialect, probably close to ǃKung, but they now speak a divergent dialect of Nama. Khoisan languages_sentence_51

Thus their language is variously said to be extinct or to have 18,000 speakers, to be Ju or to be Khoe. Khoisan languages_sentence_52

(Their numbers have been included under Nama above.) Khoisan languages_sentence_53

They are known as the Saa by the Nama, and this is the source of the word San. Khoisan languages_sentence_54

Tuu Khoisan languages_section_6

Main article: Tuu languages Khoisan languages_sentence_55

The Tuu family consists of two language clusters, which are related to each other at about the distance of Khoekhoe and Tshukhwe within Khoe. Khoisan languages_sentence_56

They are typologically very similar to the Kxʼa languages (below), but have not been demonstrated to be related to them genealogically (the similarities may be an areal feature). Khoisan languages_sentence_57

Khoisan languages_unordered_list_1

  • TuuKhoisan languages_item_1_17
    • TaaKhoisan languages_item_1_18
      • ǃXoon (4200 speakers. A dialect cluster.)Khoisan languages_item_1_19
      • Lower Nossob (Two dialects, ǀʼAuni and ǀHaasi. Extinct.)Khoisan languages_item_1_20
    • ǃKwiKhoisan languages_item_1_21
      • Nǁng (A dialect cluster. Moribund.)Khoisan languages_item_1_22
      • ǀXam (A dialect cluster. Extinct.)Khoisan languages_item_1_23
      • ǂUngkue (A dialect cluster. Extinct.)Khoisan languages_item_1_24
      • ǁXegwi (Extinct.)Khoisan languages_item_1_25

Kxʼa Khoisan languages_section_7

Main article: Kxʼa languages Khoisan languages_sentence_58

The Kxʼa family is a relatively distant relationship formally demonstrated in 2010. Khoisan languages_sentence_59

Khoisan languages_unordered_list_2

  • KxʼaKhoisan languages_item_2_26
    • ǂʼAmkoe (200 speakers, Botswana. Moribund. A dialect cluster of Nǃaqriaxe, (Eastern) ǂHoan, and Sasi)Khoisan languages_item_2_27
    • ǃKung (also ǃXun or Ju, formerly Northern Khoisan) is a dialect cluster. (~45,000 speakers.) Juǀʼhoan is the best-known dialect.Khoisan languages_item_2_28

Other "click languages" Khoisan languages_section_8

Further information: Click consonant § Languages with clicks Khoisan languages_sentence_60

Not all languages using clicks as phonemes are considered Khoisan. Khoisan languages_sentence_61

Most others are neighboring Bantu languages in southern Africa: the Nguni languages (Xhosa, Zulu, Swazi, Phuthi, and Northern Ndebele); Sotho; Yeyi in Botswana; and Mbukushu, Kwangali, and Gciriku in the Caprivi Strip. Khoisan languages_sentence_62

Clicks are spreading to a few additional neighboring languages. Khoisan languages_sentence_63

Of these languages, Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele and Yeyi have intricate systems of click consonants; the others, despite the click in the name Gciriku, more rudimentary ones. Khoisan languages_sentence_64

There is also the South Cushitic language Dahalo in Kenya, which has dental clicks in a few score words, and an extinct and presumably artificial Australian ritual language called Damin, which had only nasal clicks. Khoisan languages_sentence_65

The Bantu languages adopted the use of clicks from neighboring, displaced, or absorbed Khoisan populations (or from other Bantu languages), often through intermarriage, while the Dahalo are thought to have retained clicks from an earlier language when they shifted to speaking a Cushitic language; if so, the pre-Dahalo language may have been something like Hadza or Sandawe. Khoisan languages_sentence_66

Damin is an invented ritual language, and has nothing to do with Khoisan. Khoisan languages_sentence_67

These are the only languages known to have clicks in normal vocabulary. Khoisan languages_sentence_68

Occasionally other languages are said by laypeople to have "click" sounds. Khoisan languages_sentence_69

This is usually a misnomer for ejective consonants, which are found across much of the world, or is a reference to paralinguistic use of clicks such as English tsk! Khoisan languages_sentence_70

tsk! Khoisan languages_sentence_71

Comparative vocabulary Khoisan languages_section_9

Sample basic vocabulary for Khoisan language families: Khoisan languages_sentence_72

Khoisan languages_table_general_2

LanguageKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_0 eyeKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_1 earKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_2 noseKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_3 toothKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_4 tongueKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_5 mouthKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_6 bloodKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_7 boneKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_8 treeKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_9 waterKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_10 eatKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_11 nameKhoisan languages_header_cell_2_0_12
Proto-KhoeKhoisan languages_cell_2_1_0 *≠xaiKhoisan languages_cell_2_1_1 *≠aiKhoisan languages_cell_2_1_2 *≠uiKhoisan languages_cell_2_1_3 *//ũKhoisan languages_cell_2_1_4 Khoisan languages_cell_2_1_5 *kxʔamKhoisan languages_cell_2_1_6 */ʔaoKhoisan languages_cell_2_1_7 Khoisan languages_cell_2_1_8 Khoisan languages_cell_2_1_9 *≠̃aKhoisan languages_cell_2_1_10 *≠ʔũKhoisan languages_cell_2_1_11 */xʔonKhoisan languages_cell_2_1_12
Proto-KhoekhoeKhoisan languages_cell_2_2_0 *≠xaiKhoisan languages_cell_2_2_1 *≠aiKhoisan languages_cell_2_2_2 *≠uiKhoisan languages_cell_2_2_3 Khoisan languages_cell_2_2_4 Khoisan languages_cell_2_2_5 *//kxʔamKhoisan languages_cell_2_2_6 */ʔauKhoisan languages_cell_2_2_7 Khoisan languages_cell_2_2_8 Khoisan languages_cell_2_2_9 Khoisan languages_cell_2_2_10 *≠ʔũKhoisan languages_cell_2_2_11 */xʔonKhoisan languages_cell_2_2_12
Proto-Central KhoisanKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_0 *ǂxaiKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_1 *ǂaeKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_2 *ǂuiiKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_3 *ǁõõKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_4 *dhamKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_5 *kx’amKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_6 *ǀ’aoKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_7 Khoisan languages_cell_2_3_8 *zeiKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_9 *tsaa; *ǁamiKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_10 *ǂ’ũKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_11 *ǀkx’onKhoisan languages_cell_2_3_12
Proto-TuuKhoisan languages_cell_2_4_0 *tsʼaaKhoisan languages_cell_2_4_1 *nǂ(u)iKhoisan languages_cell_2_4_2 *nǀu, *nǀũKhoisan languages_cell_2_4_3 *ǁkha(i)Khoisan languages_cell_2_4_4 *ǀʼãri > *ǀʼaniKhoisan languages_cell_2_4_5 *thuKhoisan languages_cell_2_4_6 Khoisan languages_cell_2_4_7 Khoisan languages_cell_2_4_8 *ʘho, *nʘo, *nʘaKhoisan languages_cell_2_4_9 *!khaaKhoisan languages_cell_2_4_10 *ãa, *ãiKhoisan languages_cell_2_4_11 *ǀãe, *ǁaeKhoisan languages_cell_2_4_12
Žuǀʼhõansi (Tsumkwe)Khoisan languages_cell_2_5_0 gǀà’a̍Khoisan languages_cell_2_5_1 ǀ’hū̍Khoisan languages_cell_2_5_2 ts’ũKhoisan languages_cell_2_5_3 ts’àuKhoisan languages_cell_2_5_4 dhārìKhoisan languages_cell_2_5_5 ts’iKhoisan languages_cell_2_5_6 ǀ’àngKhoisan languages_cell_2_5_7 Khoisan languages_cell_2_5_8 Khoisan languages_cell_2_5_9 Khoisan languages_cell_2_5_10 Khoisan languages_cell_2_5_11 Khoisan languages_cell_2_5_12
SandaweKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_0 ǀʷěːKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_1 kékéKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_2 ⁿǀáti̥Khoisan languages_cell_2_6_3 !’àkʰã̌ːKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_4 !ʰẽ̂ːKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_5 ⁿ!ũ̂ːKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_6 ǁ’ék’âKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_7 Khoisan languages_cell_2_6_8 tʰěːKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_9 ts’âKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_10 mántʃʰâKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_11 ǁʷâKhoisan languages_cell_2_6_12
HadzaKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_0 ʔakʷʰaKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_1 ɦat͜ʃ’apit͜ʃʰiKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_2 ʔiƞtʰaweKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_3 ʔaɦaKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_4 ⁿǀataKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_5 Khoisan languages_cell_2_7_6 ʔatʰamaKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_7 mic͜ʎ̥˔’aKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_8 t͜s’itiKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_9 ʔatiKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_10 Khoisan languages_cell_2_7_11 ʔakʰanaKhoisan languages_cell_2_7_12

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