Nǁng language

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"Nu language" redirects here. Nǁng language_sentence_0

For the language of the Nu people of southwest China and northern Myanmar, see Nusu language. Nǁng language_sentence_1

Nǁng language_table_infobox_0

NǁngNǁng language_header_cell_0_0_0
Native toNǁng language_header_cell_0_1_0 South AfricaNǁng language_cell_0_1_1
RegionNǁng language_header_cell_0_2_0 2 speakers in Olifantshoek, 3 in Upington in 2013Nǁng language_cell_0_2_1
EthnicityNǁng language_header_cell_0_3_0 500 Nǁnǂe (ǂKhomani)Nǁng language_cell_0_3_1
Native speakersNǁng language_header_cell_0_4_0 2 (2020)

(3 Nǀuu and 2 ǁʼAu in 2013)Nǁng language_cell_0_4_1

Language familyNǁng language_header_cell_0_5_0 TuuNǁng language_cell_0_5_1
DialectsNǁng language_header_cell_0_6_0 Nǁng language_cell_0_6_1
Language codesNǁng language_header_cell_0_7_0
ISO 639-3Nǁng language_header_cell_0_8_0 Nǁng language_cell_0_8_1
GlottologNǁng language_header_cell_0_9_0 Nǁng language_cell_0_9_1

Nǁng [ᵑǁŋ or Nǁŋǃke, commonly known by the name of its dialect Nǀuu (Nǀhuki), is a moribund Tuu (Khoisan) language once spoken in South Africa. Nǁng language_sentence_2

It is no longer spoken on a daily basis, as the speakers live in different villages. Nǁng language_sentence_3

The dialect name ǂKhomani is used for the entire people by the South African government, but the descendants of ǂKhomani-dialect speakers now speak Khoikhoi. Nǁng language_sentence_4

As of January 2013, only three speakers of the Nǀuu dialect and two of the ǁʼAu dialect remain. Nǁng language_sentence_5

Classification and name Nǁng language_section_0

Nǁng belongs to the Tuu (Taa–ǃKwi) language family, with extinct ǀXam being its closest relative and Taa its closest living relative. Nǁng language_sentence_6

The two recent dialects are Nǀuu (Nǀhuki) and ǁʼAu (ǁKhʼau). Nǁng language_sentence_7

Extinct dialects include ǂKhomani and Langeberg. Nǁng language_sentence_8

ǂKhomani had been recorded by Doke and by Maingard, Nǀhuki by Weshphal, and Langeberg by Dorothea Bleek. Nǁng language_sentence_9

As of 2010, most remaining speakers spoke Nǀuu dialect, and this was the name Nǁng appeared under when it was rediscovered. Nǁng language_sentence_10

However, two spoke ǁʼAu and rejected the label Nǀuu. Nǁng language_sentence_11

Of the names Nǀuu, ǁʼAu, and Nǁng, the easiest for English speakers to pronounce is Nǀuu. Nǁng language_sentence_12

The letter that looks like a vertical bar (sometimes carelessly substituted with a slash) represents a dental click like the English interjection tsk! Nǁng language_sentence_13

tsk! Nǁng language_sentence_14

(tut! Nǁng language_sentence_15

tut!) Nǁng language_sentence_16

used to express pity or shame, but nasalized; "Nǀuu" is pronounced like noo, with a tsk! Nǁng language_sentence_17

in the middle of the [n]. Nǁng language_sentence_18

The double-vertical-bar in "Nǁng" is a (single) lateral click, pronounced like the tchick! Nǁng language_sentence_19

used to spur on a horse; the name is pronounced like the ng of sung with this click in it. Nǁng language_sentence_20

The word nǀuu /ᵑǀùú/ is actually a verb, 'to speak Nǀuu'. Nǁng language_sentence_21

The people call themselves Nǁŋ-ǂe /ᵑǁŋ̀ŋ̀ ǂé/ 'people', and Westphal believes this may be the term recorded by Bleek and variously rendered in the literature as ǁNg ǃʼe, ǁn-ǃke, ǁŋ.ǃke. Nǁng language_sentence_22

The name Nǀusan is an ambiguous Khoekhoe exonym, and is used for several Tuu languages. Nǁng language_sentence_23

Traill says that the ǀʼAuni call their language Nǀhuki, but others have recorded their name for their language as ǀʼAuo, and both Westphal and Köhler state that Nǀhuki (Nǀhuci, nǀɦuki) is a variety of Nǁng. Nǁng language_sentence_24

It's not clear if both are correct or if languages have gotten mixed up in the literature. Nǁng language_sentence_25

History Nǁng language_section_1

Nǁng prospered through the 19th century, but encroaching non-ǃKwi languages and acculturation threatened it, like most other Khoisan languages. Nǁng language_sentence_26

The language was mainly displaced by Afrikaans and Nama, especially after speakers started migrating to towns in the 1930s and found themselves surrounded by non-Nǁng-speaking people. Nǁng language_sentence_27

In 1973 their language was declared extinct, and the remaining Nǁnǂe ("ǂKhomani") were evicted from the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. Nǁng language_sentence_28

In the 1990s, linguists located 101-year-old Elsie Vaalbooi, who could still speak Nǁng. Nǁng language_sentence_29

Anthony Traill interviewed her in 1997. Nǁng language_sentence_30

The South African San Institute soon became involved in the pursuit of information on the Nǁng language, and with the help of Vaalbooi they tracked down 25 other people scattered by the eviction who were able to speak or at least understand the language. Nǁng language_sentence_31

Thabo Mbeki handed over 400 km of land to the Nǁnǂe in 1999, and 250 km of land within the park in 2002. Nǁng language_sentence_32

Vaalbooi came up with the Nǁng motto of Sa ǁʼa ǃainsi uinsi "We move towards a better life" for her rehabilitated people. Nǁng language_sentence_33

This was also adopted as the official motto for the Northern Cape Province. Nǁng language_sentence_34

At the time there were twenty elderly speakers, eight of whom lived in the Western Cape province signed over to them. Nǁng language_sentence_35

As of 2007, fewer than ten are still alive in South Africa, and a few more in Botswana; none live with another speaker, and their daily languages are Khoekhoe and Tswana, respectively. Nǁng language_sentence_36

The younger generations of ǂKhomani are proud Nama speakers, and have little affinity to Nǁng, so there is little chance of saving the language. Nǁng language_sentence_37

Linguist Nigel Crawhall is heading a team to document what remains. Nǁng language_sentence_38

Recent research on Nǁng led by Amanda Miller of Cornell University has helped describe the physics of its clicks, leading to a better understanding of click sounds in general. Nǁng language_sentence_39

Efforts to perpetuate the Nǁng language continue in 2017. Nǁng language_sentence_40

Speech sounds Nǁng language_section_2

Nǁng has one of the more complex sound inventories of the world's languages. Nǁng language_sentence_41

Most lexical words consist of a phonological foot with two moras (tone-bearing units). Nǁng language_sentence_42

The first mora must start with a consonant (CV). Nǁng language_sentence_43

The second mora may be a single vowel (V), a nasal consonant m or n (N), or one of a drastically reduced number of consonants plus a vowel (cV). Nǁng language_sentence_44

That is, lexical roots, not counting sometimes lexicalized CV prefixes and suffixes, are typically CVcV, CVV, CVN, though there are also a few which are CV, as well as longer words of two phonological feet: CVCV, where the second C is not one of the reduced set of consonants but cannot be a click, CVCVN, CVVCV, CVNCV, CVVCVN, CVNCVN, CVcVCV, CVVCVcV. Nǁng language_sentence_45

Grammatical words tend to be CV or V. Nǁng language_sentence_46

There are occasional exceptions to these patterns in ideophonic words such as /ɟùɾùkúɟúí-sí/ 'Namaqua sandgrouse' (CVcVCVCVV + suffix) and historically reduplicated words with clicks such as /ǁáḿǁàm̀/ 'to talk'. Nǁng language_sentence_47

Vowels Nǁng language_section_3

Like most languages in southern Africa, Nǁng has five vowel qualities. Nǁng language_sentence_48

These may occur strident and nasalized. Nǁng language_sentence_49

A word may have two adjacent vowels, which resemble a long vowel or diphthong. Nǁng language_sentence_50

The strident vowels are thought to have the phonation called harsh voice. Nǁng language_sentence_51

They are strongly pharyngealized, and for some speakers involve low-frequency trilling that presumably involves the aryepiglottic fold. Nǁng language_sentence_52

The four strident vowel qualities (there is no strident i) are rather different from the non-strident vowels, as is common when a vowel is pharyngealized. Nǁng language_sentence_53

Nǁng language_table_general_1

Nǁng language_cell_1_0_0 High frontNǁng language_cell_1_0_1 Mid frontNǁng language_cell_1_0_2 Low centralNǁng language_cell_1_0_3 Mid backNǁng language_cell_1_0_4 High back/centralNǁng language_cell_1_0_5
ModalNǁng language_cell_1_1_0 i [i̞]Nǁng language_cell_1_1_1 e [e̞]Nǁng language_cell_1_1_2 a [ä]Nǁng language_cell_1_1_3 o [o̞]Nǁng language_cell_1_1_4 u [u̽]Nǁng language_cell_1_1_5
NasalNǁng language_cell_1_2_0 ĩ [ĩ̞]Nǁng language_cell_1_2_1 ẽ [ẽ̞]Nǁng language_cell_1_2_2 ã [ä̃]Nǁng language_cell_1_2_3 õ [õ̞]Nǁng language_cell_1_2_4 ũ [u̽̃]Nǁng language_cell_1_2_5
StridentNǁng language_cell_1_3_0 Nǁng language_cell_1_3_1 e [ɛ̰̰]Nǁng language_cell_1_3_2 a [ɑ̟̰̰]Nǁng language_cell_1_3_3 o [ɔ̟̰̰]Nǁng language_cell_1_3_4 u [ɵ̰̰]Nǁng language_cell_1_3_5
Nasal stridentNǁng language_cell_1_4_0 Nǁng language_cell_1_4_1 (?)Nǁng language_cell_1_4_2 ã [ɑ̟̰̰̃]Nǁng language_cell_1_4_3 õ [ɔ̟̰̰̃]Nǁng language_cell_1_4_4 ũ [ɵ̰̰̃]Nǁng language_cell_1_4_5

Nǁng is the only Khoisan language known to have a strident front vowel, /eˤ/, though this is rare, occurring in only two known words, /zḛ̰́é/ 'to fly' and /ᵑ̊ǂḛ̰̀βé/ 'loincloth'. Nǁng language_sentence_54

The lack of a nasalized equivalent is thought to be an accidental gap or simply unattested due to the small number of known words. Nǁng language_sentence_55

The tone-bearing segment may be a syllabic nasal, /ŋ̍/, rather than a vowel, as in the name Nǁng. Nǁng language_sentence_56

Only certain sequences of vowels may occur in a bimoraic foot, regardless of whether there is an intervening consonant. Nǁng language_sentence_57

(That is, the permitted vowels are the same whether a word is CVcV or CVV.) Nǁng language_sentence_58

If the first vowel is any variety (nasal, strident, etc.) of /i, e, ŋ̍/, then the second vowel must be identical. Nǁng language_sentence_59

If the first vowel is /a/, then the second may be anything but /ŋ̍/. Nǁng language_sentence_60

If the first vowel is /o/ or /u/, then the second may be either /a/ or a vowel of the same height: that is, oa, oo, oe; ua, uu, ui. Nǁng language_sentence_61

The vowels must be both oral or both nasal; nasal vowels cannot follow a nasal stop (though they may follow nasal clicks). Nǁng language_sentence_62

Only the first vowel may be strident. Nǁng language_sentence_63

Front vowels can only follow the click types ǀ and ǂ (the back-vowel constraint), with a single known exception, ᵑǁˀé 'to go'. Nǁng language_sentence_64

Front vowels and strident vowels may also not follow [χ], whether an affricate release or a fricative, with the exception of three female kin terms where the second syllable is /χè/. Nǁng language_sentence_65

As with the lack of strident front vowels, there are thus a small number of exceptions for these constraints with /e/, but none with /i/. Nǁng language_sentence_66

Tones Nǁng language_section_4

Nǁng moras may carry a high or low tone, /H/ or /L/. Nǁng language_sentence_67

A typical lexical word consists of two moras, and so may have a high (HH), low (LL), rising (LH), or falling (HL) tone. Nǁng language_sentence_68

Monomoraic lexical roots, such as /cú/ 'mouth', are high- rather than low-tone by a 5–1 margin. Nǁng language_sentence_69

CVV and CVN roots are HH, HL, and LH with about equal frequency, with LL slightly less common. Nǁng language_sentence_70

However, half of all CVcV roots are LH, making it markedly frequent, while only 5% are HL. Nǁng language_sentence_71

In an additional CV foot the distribution of H and L is approximately equal; an additional CVN or CVcV foot may pattern like an initial foot, but they are too infrequent to be sure. Nǁng language_sentence_72

Consonants Nǁng language_section_5

The majority of Nǁng consonants are clicks. Nǁng language_sentence_73

It was once thought that Khoisan languages distinguish velar and uvular clicks, but recent research into Nǁng, and reevaluation of the data on ǃXóõ, indicates that, for these languages at least, the distinction is one of pure clicks versus click–plosive contours. Nǁng language_sentence_74

Nǁng language_table_general_2

Initial pulmonic consonants (C1)Nǁng language_table_caption_2
Nǁng language_header_cell_2_0_0 BilabialNǁng language_header_cell_2_0_2 Laminal

alveolarNǁng language_header_cell_2_0_3

Pre- palatalNǁng language_header_cell_2_0_4 VelarNǁng language_header_cell_2_0_5 UvularNǁng language_header_cell_2_0_6 GlottalNǁng language_header_cell_2_0_7
NasalNǁng language_header_cell_2_1_0 mNǁng language_cell_2_1_2 (n)Nǁng language_cell_2_1_3 ɲ̟Nǁng language_cell_2_1_4 Nǁng language_cell_2_1_5 Nǁng language_cell_2_1_6 Nǁng language_cell_2_1_7
PlosiveNǁng language_header_cell_2_2_0 aspiratedNǁng language_header_cell_2_2_1 Nǁng language_cell_2_2_2 Nǁng language_cell_2_2_3 c̟ʰNǁng language_cell_2_2_4 Nǁng language_cell_2_2_5 Nǁng language_cell_2_2_6 Nǁng language_cell_2_2_7
voicelessNǁng language_header_cell_2_3_0 pNǁng language_cell_2_3_1 Nǁng language_cell_2_3_2 Nǁng language_cell_2_3_3 kNǁng language_cell_2_3_4 Nǁng language_cell_2_3_5 ʔNǁng language_cell_2_3_6
voicedNǁng language_header_cell_2_4_0 bNǁng language_cell_2_4_1 Nǁng language_cell_2_4_2 ɟ̟Nǁng language_cell_2_4_3 gNǁng language_cell_2_4_4 Nǁng language_cell_2_4_5 Nǁng language_cell_2_4_6
AffricateNǁng language_header_cell_2_5_0 voicelessNǁng language_header_cell_2_5_1 pfNǁng language_cell_2_5_2 tsNǁng language_cell_2_5_3 c̟xNǁng language_cell_2_5_4 Nǁng language_cell_2_5_5 Nǁng language_cell_2_5_6 Nǁng language_cell_2_5_7
FricativeNǁng language_header_cell_2_6_0 voicelessNǁng language_header_cell_2_6_1 Nǁng language_cell_2_6_2 sNǁng language_cell_2_6_3 Nǁng language_cell_2_6_4 Nǁng language_cell_2_6_5 χNǁng language_cell_2_6_6 hNǁng language_cell_2_6_7
voicedNǁng language_header_cell_2_7_0 Nǁng language_cell_2_7_1 zNǁng language_cell_2_7_2 Nǁng language_cell_2_7_3 Nǁng language_cell_2_7_4 Nǁng language_cell_2_7_5 Nǁng language_cell_2_7_6

"(?)" Nǁng language_sentence_75

marks possible accidental gaps; these consonants might be expected based on their occurrence in neighboring languages with similar phonologies, but are expected to be rare, and may occur in Nǁng words that have not been recorded. Nǁng language_sentence_76

What were historically initial alveolar occlusives have become pre-palatal in lexical words. Nǁng language_sentence_77

Among grammatical words in Nǀuu dialect there is a single exception, ná 'I'; in ǁʼAu dialect even that has merged, for ɲá 'I'. Nǁng language_sentence_78

Nǁng language_table_general_3

Reduced medial consonants (C2)Nǁng language_table_caption_3
Nǁng language_header_cell_3_0_0 BilabialNǁng language_header_cell_3_0_1 AlveolarNǁng language_header_cell_3_0_2
NasalNǁng language_header_cell_3_1_0 mNǁng language_cell_3_1_1 nNǁng language_cell_3_1_2
Oral (central)Nǁng language_header_cell_3_2_0 βNǁng language_cell_3_2_1 ɾNǁng language_cell_3_2_2
LateralNǁng language_header_cell_3_3_0 Nǁng language_cell_3_3_1 lNǁng language_cell_3_3_2

Only sonorants may occur as the medial consonant of a phonological foot. Nǁng language_sentence_79

/l/ is only known from three words. Nǁng language_sentence_80

The oral sonorants do not occur in initial position. Nǁng language_sentence_81

Nǁng language_table_general_4

Glottalic consonants (C1)Nǁng language_table_caption_4
Nǁng language_header_cell_4_0_0 BilabialNǁng language_header_cell_4_0_1 Laminal

alveolarNǁng language_header_cell_4_0_2

Pre-

palatalNǁng language_header_cell_4_0_3

VelarNǁng language_header_cell_4_0_4
PlosiveNǁng language_header_cell_4_1_0 Nǁng language_cell_4_1_1 Nǁng language_cell_4_1_2 Nǁng language_cell_4_1_3 Nǁng language_cell_4_1_4
AffricateNǁng language_header_cell_4_2_0 Nǁng language_cell_4_2_1 t͡sʼNǁng language_cell_4_2_2 Nǁng language_cell_4_2_3 k͡xʼNǁng language_cell_4_2_4

These are simple clicks. Nǁng language_sentence_82

The traditional term "velaric" is something of a misnomer, for the rear articulation is further back than the velum, and indeed further back than Nǁng /q/. Nǁng language_sentence_83

Miller et al. Nǁng language_sentence_84

prefer the term "lingual" for this airstream mechanism; they also reject the existence of click "accompaniments", using the IPA symbols to represent both points of articulation rather than solely the anterior articulation. Nǁng language_sentence_85

Besides being motivated phonetically, this has the benefit of better illustrating the parallels between clicks and pulmonic consonants. Nǁng language_sentence_86

In the above rubric, the first element of the name is the forward articulation, and the second is the rear articulation. Nǁng language_sentence_87

These are airstream contour consonants, which start off with a lingual (velaric) airstream mechanism and finish with a pulmonic airstream (whereas affricates are manner contour consonants, starting as plosives and finishing as fricatives). Nǁng language_sentence_88

Traditionally, these were considered to be uvular clicks, because the uvular or pharyngeal closure is audible, but in fact the rear closure of all Nǁng clicks is uvular or pharyngeal. Nǁng language_sentence_89

(The distinction between uvular and pharyngeal is not represented here.) Nǁng language_sentence_90

Effectively, in these clicks the release of the rear articulation is delayed, so that there is a double release burst, the forward (lingual) release followed by the rear (pulmonic) release. Nǁng language_sentence_91

These differ from the previous consonants in that the second, rear release is an ejective. Nǁng language_sentence_92


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nǁng language.