This language is part of the More Languages section.


The Ju/'hoansi San of southern Africa have been fortunate to have had the assistance of skilled linguists and other researchers who have assisted them in recording their language so that they can use it in education and the development of materials such as history books. Work was done on the Ju/'hoan language by linguist Jan Snyman who developed a Ju/'hoan dictionary that was published in 1975.

In the late 1980s and into the 1990s work on the Ju/'hoan language was carried out by Patrick Dickens in conjunction with people from the Nyae Nyae (Eastern Otjozondjupa) region of Namibia. The orthography that was developed for the Ju/'hoan language was accepted in October , 1991 by the Namibian Ministry of Education and Culture as the official orthography for the language of the Ju/'hoansi people. The main impetus for the creation of the orthography and the Ju/'hoan-English. English-Ju/'hoan Dictionary (Dickens 1994) was the lack of curriculum materials for the primary education of Ju/'hoan children in their own language.

The dictionary has been used in the five village schools in the Nyae Nyae region, and a whole set of curricular materials are now available in the Ju/'hoan language, thanks to the efforts of the Nyae Nyae Farmers Cooperative and the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia (NNDFN). The dictionary has also proved useful to professional academics and development workers who are collaborating with the Ju/'hoan people in both Namibia and Botswana. For a discussion of the political and social considerations in studying and writing the Ju/'hoan language, see the book Healing Makes Ours Hearts Happy by Richard Katz, Megan Biesele, and Verna St. Denis (1997: 185-186, Appendix C).

The Ju/'hoan alphabet is almost like the English one, except that it has four extra consonants for "clicking" sounds. Each of these clicks is as important to Ju/'hoan-speakers as, for example, the letter "b" is to English-speakers. The Ju/'hoan and other San languages are characterized by these clicks, which are produced by drawing the tongue sharply away from points on the roof of the mouth. The various click symbols in the Ju/'hoan language are designated as follows:

" /" The "first" click (dental), sounds like "tsk, tsk! " and is made by putting the tongue just behind the front teeth. "┬╣" The" second" cl ick (alveolar) , is a soft "pop" made by putting the tongue just behind the ridge back of the front teeth. "!" The "third" click (alveolo-palatal), is a sharp "pop" made by drawing the tongue down quickly from the roof of the mouth. "//" The "fourth" click (lateral), is a clucking sound like that made in English to urge on a horse.

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