Languages of South Africa

At least thirty-five languages indigenous to South Africa are spoken in the Republic, eleven of which are official languages of South Africa: Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, and English, which is the primary language used in parliamentary and state discourse, though all official languages are equal in legal status. Unofficial languages are protected under the Constitution of South Africa, though few are mentioned by any name. South African Sign Language has legal recognition but is not an official language, despite a campaign and parliamentary recommendation for it to be declared one.[2]

Languages of South Africa
Dominant languages in South Africa:
  •   Afrikaans
  •   English
  •   Pedi
  •   Sotho
  •   Southern Ndebele
  •   Swazi
  •   Tsonga
  •   Tswana
  •   Venda
  •   Xhosa
  •   Zulu
  •   None dominant
  •   Areas of little or no population
Official
Significant
MainEnglish
SignedSouth African Sign Language
Keyboard layout
Trilingual government building sign in Afrikaans, English, and Xhosa
A man speaking Afrikaans
Languages of South Africa (2017)[1]
Languages percent
Zulu
24.7%
Xhosa
15.6%
Afrikaans
12.1%
Sepedi
9.8%
Tswana
8.9%
English
8.4%
Sotho
8%
Tsonga
4%
Swati
2.6%
Venda
2.5%
Ndebele
1.6%
SA Sign Language
0.5%

Unofficial and marginalised languages include what are considered some of Southern Africa's oldest languages: Khoekhoegowab, !Orakobab, Xirikobab, N|uuki, !Xunthali, and Khwedam; and other African languages, such as SiPhuthi, IsiHlubi, SiBhaca, SiLala, SiNhlangwini (IsiZansi), SiNrebele (SiSumayela), IsiMpondo/IsiMpondro, IsiMpondomise/IsiMpromse/Isimpomse, KheLobedu, SePulana, HiPai, SeKutswe, SeṰokwa, SeHananwa, SiThonga, SiLaNgomane, SheKgalagari, XiRhonga, SeKopa (Sekgaga) and others. Most South Africans can speak more than one language,[3] and there is very often a diglossia between the official and unofficial language forms for speakers of the latter.


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