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PanAfriL10n - PanAfrLoc - Xhosa

Xhosa - isiXhosa

1.  Classification / Classification

Xhosa is a language in the Nguni group of Bantu (Guthrie S40). (Webbook?)

Ethnologue? lists the classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, S, Nguni (S.40)


2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

Xhosa is spoken in the Transkei coastal region of South Africa. (Webbook)

A map from Wikipedia on left shows areas where "Xhosa is spoken as a home language by a significant proportion of the population" (it is reproduced under a GNU Free Documentation License.)


3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to Ethnologue:

  • 7,196,118 in South Africa (1996 census)
  • 18,000 in Lesotho (1993 Johnstone)
  • Population total all countries: 7,214,118

Wikipedia quotes a figure of 7.9 million speakers.


4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

According to Ethnologue:

  • Gealeka
  • Ndlambe
  • Gaika (Ncqika)
  • Thembu, Bomvana
  • Mpondomse (Mpondomisi)
  • Mpondo
  • Xesibe
  • Rhathabe
  • Bhaca
  • Cele
  • Hlubi
  • Mfengu

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Xhosa is one of the 11 official languages of South Africa.

Literacy rate (according to Ethnologue):

  • L1: 50%
  • L2: 20% to 25%

Taught in primary and secondary schools. (Ethnologue)


6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Xhosa has a standardized orthography that uses the unmodified Latin alphabet. It is described in the Terminology and Orthography No. 3 of 1980. [need full citation]

Xhosa has a Roman based orthography that well represents the spoken language. Xhosa also uses various combinations of graphemes to represent, for example, click sounds that cannot be adequately represented using the Roman-based orthography. (UCLA)

An earlier proposed orthography included some extended characters.

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

(Apparently the same as the English alphabet but for g' ?)

Geonames "Unicode test page...: Xhosa alphabet" http://www.geonames.de/alphtz.html#xho

The "Language Museum" site has short sample texts in:


7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

Latin fonts without extended ranges (such as commonly used for English) will suffice.

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

An English keyboard or the South African keyboard http://translate.org.za/content/view/24/41/ can be used (verify re the English keyboard)

7.3  Content on computers & internet / Contenu en informatique et sur l'Internet

The South African language site "Batho Portal" http://www.sediba.org.za/ has a section on & in isiXhosa.

INKCAZO-JIKELELE NGEEMFANELO ZOLUNTU (Universal Declaration of Human Rights): http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/xos.htm

Wikipedia in Xhosa at http://xh.wikipedia.org/ (some content as of 11-2006)

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

The OpenOffice suite of software applications has been localized in Xhosa by Translate.org.za. See http://translate.org.za/content/view/17/54/

There is a project to translate Debian (Linux) Installer in Xhosa: https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/edgy/+source/debian-installer/+pots/debian-installer

There is an "isiXhosa Spelling Checker 1.0 & Hyphenator" for Microsoft products for sale at http://www.bowline.co.za/home.asp?pid=24&product=1096

CTexT has developed a spellchecker and hyphenator for use with Microsoft Windows. See: http://www.spel.co.za/

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

  • ISO 639-1: xh
  • ISO 639-2: xho
  • ISO 639-3: xho

7.6  Locales / Paramètres régionaux

7.7  Other / Autre


8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

Translate.org.za http://Translate.org.za

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile


9.  Comments / Remarques


10.  References / Références

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, http://africa.isp.msu.edu/afrlang/hiermenu.html (page on "Xhosa," http://africa.isp.msu.edu/afrlang/Xhosa_root.html )

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Xhosa," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/xho

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables," http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp

U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language," http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/English_list.php

UCLA, Language Materials Project, "Xhosa (profile)," http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/Profile.aspx?LangID=21&menu=004

Wikipedia, "IsiXhosa," https://xh.wikipedia.org/wiki/IsiXhosa

______, "Xhosa language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xhosa_language


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Categories: Languages, South Africa, Parts of Lesotho