Xhosa is a Bantu language spoken in South Africa, mainly in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Free State and Northern Cape. It is also in parts of Lesotho and Zimbabwe. According to the 2011 census there are about 8.2 million native speakers of Xhosa, and another 11 million second language speakers.
Xhosa is an official language in South Africa and Zimbabe, and is used as a language of instruction in primary schools, and in some secondary schools. It is also taught in universities. There are books, magazines and newspapers in Xhosa, as well as TV and radio programmes, films, plays and songs.
Xhosa's click consonants were most likely borrowed from the Khoisan languages as a result of long and extensive interaction between the Xhosa and Khoisan peoples.
A system for writing Xhosa using the Latin alphabet was devised by Christian missionaries during the early 19th century. The first printed work in Xhosa was published in 1823.
Hear the Xhosa alphabet:
Hear how to pronounce Xhosa:
Bonke abantu bazalwa bekhululekile belingana ngesidima nangokweemfanelo. Bonke abantu banesiphiwo sesazela nesizathu sokwenza isenzo ongathanda ukuba senziwe kumzalwane wakho.
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)
Some corrections to this page by Michael Peter Füstumum
Online Xhosa lessons
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Page last modified: 17.08.22
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