Tsonga is a member of the Bantu branch of Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken mainly in northern South Africa, and neighbouring areas of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). There are about 8.9 million speakers of Tsonga, including 5.68 million in South Africa (in 2013), 3.1 million speakers in Mozambique (in 2016), 100,000 speakers in Zimbabwe (in 1998), and 20,000 speakers in Eswatini (in 2010).
In South Africa Tsonga is spoken mainly in Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. In Mozambique it is spoken in Gaza, Maputo and Inhambane provinces. In Zimbabwe it is spoken in Masvingo province, and in Eswatini it is spoken in various parts of the country.
Tsonga is also known as Shangaan, Shangana, Shitsonga, Thonga, Tonga, Gwamba or Shangani. The native name of the language is Xitsonga, and the people who speak it are known as Vatsonga.
Tsonga was first documented by Swiss missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first book in Tsonga was published by Paul Berthoud in 1883.
Tsonga became an official language in South Africa in 1996. It is used there is schools and on in radio broadcasts. Tsonga is an offically recognized language in Zimbabwe, where it is known as Shangani, and is taught in schools. It is also officially recognized, as part of the Tswa-Ronga languages, in Mozambique.
Vanhu hinkwavo va tswariwa va tshunxekile naswona va ringanile eka tifanelo na xindzhuti. Va havaxerile miehleketo na tshiriti kumbe ku tiva xo biha ni xta kahle nakambe va fanele va kombana moya wa vukwavo.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about the Tsonga language
Consonants in Changana / Tsonga (PDF)
Munghana Lonene - Tsonga radio station
Basaa, Bemba, Bulu, Chichewa, Chokwe, Comorian, Digo, Duala, Ewondo, Fang, Ganda/Luganda, Gwere, Herero, Ikizu, Jita, Kiga, Kikuyu, Kimbundu, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Kisi, Kongo, Konjo, Lingala, Loma, Lozi, Luchazi, Makonde, Mandekan, Maore, Mende, Mushungulu, Mwani, Nkore, Northern Ndebele (South Africa), Northern Ndebele (Zimbabwe), Northern Sotho, Nyemba, Nyole, OshiWambo, Ronga, Sena, Shona, Soga, Southern Ndebele, Southern Sotho, Swahili, Swati, Tshiluba, Tsonga, Tswana, Tumbuka, Umbundu, Venda, Xhosa, Yao, Zigula, Zinza, Zulu
Page last modified: 26.09.21
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