Sotho (/ˈsuːtuː/) or Sesotho (/sɛˈsuːtuː/) (also known as Southern Sotho or Southern Sesotho), is a Southern Bantu language of the Sotho-Tswana (S.30) group, spoken primarily in South Africa, where it is one of the 11 official languages, in Zimbabwe where it is one of 16 official languages and in Lesotho, where it is also the national language.
|Native to||Lesotho, South Africa|
|5.6 million (2001–2011)|
7.9 million L2 speakers in South Africa (2002)
|Latin Sesotho orthography|
Official language in
|Regulated by||Pan South African Language Board|
|The Sesotho Language|
Although Southern Sotho shares the name Sotho with Northern Sotho, the two groups have less in common with each other than they have with Setswana.
"Sotho" is also the name given to the entire Sotho-Tswana group, in which case Sesotho proper is called "Southern Sotho". Within the Sotho-Tswana group, Southern Sotho is most closely related to Lozi (Silozi), with which it forms the Sesotho-Lozi group within Sotho-Tswana.
The Sotho-Tswana group is in turn closely related to the other Southern Bantu languages, including the Venda, Tsonga, Tonga, Lozi which is native to Zambia and the other surrounding Southern African countries and Nguni languages, and possibly also the Makua (zone P) languages of Tanzania and Mozambique.
Sotho is the root word. Various prefixes may be added for specific derivations, such as Sesotho for the Sotho language and Basotho for the Sotho people. Use of Sesotho rather than Sotho for the language in English has seen increasing use since the 1980s, especially in South African English and in Lesotho.
Except for faint lexical variation within Lesotho, and for marked lexical variation between the Lesotho/Free State variety and that of the large urban townships to the north (such as Soweto) due to heavy borrowing from neighbouring languages, there is no discernible dialect variation in this language.
However, one point that seems to often confuse authors who attempt to study the dialectology of Sesotho is the term Basotho, which can variously mean "Sotho–Tswana speakers," "Southern Sotho and Northern Sotho speakers," "Sesotho speakers," and "residents of Lesotho." The Nguni language Phuthi has been heavily influenced by Sesotho; its speakers have mixed Nguni and Sotho–Tswana ancestry. It seems that it is sometimes treated erroneously as a dialect of Sesotho called "Sephuthi." However, Phuthi is mutually unintelligible with standard Sesotho and thus cannot in any sense be termed a dialect of it. The occasional tendency to label all minor languages spoken in Lesotho as "dialects" of Sesotho is considered patronising, in addition to being linguistically inaccurate and in part serving a national myth that all citizens of Lesotho have Sesotho as their mother tongue.
Additionally, being derived from a language or dialect very closely related to modern Sesotho, the Zambian Sotho–Tswana language Lozi is also sometimes cited as a modern dialect of Sesotho named Serotse or Sekololo.
The oral history of the Basotho and Northern Sotho peoples (as contained in their liboko) states that 'Mathulare, a daughter of the chief of the Bafokeng nation (an old and respected people), was married to chief Tabane of the (Southern) Bakgatla (a branch of the Bahurutse, who are one of the most ancient of the Sotho–Tswana tribes), and bore the founders of five tribes: Bapedi (by Mopedi), Makgolokwe (by Kgetsi), Baphuthing (by Mophuthing, and later the Mzizi of Dlamini, connected with the present-day Ndebele), Batlokwa (by Kgwadi), and Basia (by Mosia). These were the first peoples to be called "Basotho", before many of their descendants and other peoples came together to form Moshoeshoe I's nation in the early 19th century. The situation is even further complicated by various historical factors, such as members of parent clans joining their descendants or various clans calling themselves by the same names (because they honour the same legendary ancestor or have the same totem).
An often repeated story is that when the modern Basotho nation was established by King Moshoeshoe I, his own "dialect" Sekwena was chosen over two other popular variations Setlokwa and Setaung and that these two still exist as "dialects" of modern Sesotho. The inclusion of Setlokwa in this scenario is confusing, as the modern language named "Setlokwa" is a Northern Sesotho language spoken by descendants of the same Batlokwa whose attack on the young chief Moshoeshoe's settlement during Lifaqane (led by the famous widow Mmanthatisi) caused them to migrate to present-day Lesotho. On the other hand, Doke & Mofokeng claims that the tendency of many Sesotho speakers to say for example ke ronngwe [kʼɪʀʊŋ̩ŋʷe] instead of ke romilwe [kʼɪʀuˌmilʷe] when forming the perfect of the passive of verbs ending in -ma [mɑ] (as well as forming their perfects with -mme [m̩me] instead of -mile [mile]) is "a relic of the extinct Tlokwa dialect".
According to the South African National Census of 2011, there were almost four million first language Sesotho speakers recorded in South Africa – approximately eight per cent of the population. Most Sesotho speakers in South Africa reside in Free State and Gauteng. Sesotho is also the main language spoken by the people of Lesotho, where, according to 1993 data, it was spoken by about 1,493,000 people, or 85% of the population. The census fails to record other South Africans for whom Sesotho is a second or third language. Such speakers are found in all major residential areas of Metropolitan Municipalities - such as Johannesburg, and Tshwane - where multilingualism and polylectalism are very high.
Sesotho is one of the many languages from which the pseudo-language Tsotsitaal is derived. Tsotsitaal is not a proper language, as it is primarily a unique vocabulary and a set of idioms but used with the grammar and inflexion rules of another language (usually Sesotho or Zulu). It is a part of the youth culture in most Southern Gauteng "townships" and is the primary language used in Kwaito music.
The sound system of Sesotho is unusual in many respects. It has ejective consonants, click consonants, a uvular trill, a relatively large number of affricate consonants, no prenasalised consonants, and a rare form of vowel-height (alternatively, advanced tongue root) harmony. In total, the language contains some 39 consonantal and 9 vowel phonemes.
It also has a large number of complex sound transformations which often change the phones of words due to the influence of other (sometimes invisible) sounds.
|aspirated||tsʰ||tɬʰ||tʃʰ||kxʰ / x|
|Fricative||voiceless||f||s||ɬ||ʃ||h ~ ɦ|
|voiced||ʒ / dʒ|
The most striking properties of Sesotho grammar, and the most important properties which reveal it as a Bantu language, are its noun gender and concord systems. The grammatical gender system does not encode sex gender, and indeed, Bantu languages in general are not grammatically marked for gender.
Another well-known property of the Bantu languages is their agglutinative morphology. Additionally, they tend to lack any grammatical case systems, indicating noun roles almost exclusively through word order.
The Department of Arts and Culture is one of the departments of the South African government. It promotes, supports, develops and protects the arts, culture and heritage of South Africa. The heritage sites, museums and monuments of the country also reside under this ministry. The political head of the department is the Minister of Arts and Culture; as of 2014 this is Nathi Mthethwa.Department of Defence (South Africa)
The Department of Defence is a department of the South African government. It oversees the South African National Defence Force, the armed forces responsible for defending South Africa.
As of June 2012 the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans was Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.Department of International Relations and Cooperation
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) is the foreign ministry of the South African government. It is responsible for South Africa's relationships with foreign countries and international organizations, and runs South Africa's diplomatic missions. The department is headed by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, currently Naledi Pandor.
Formerly known as the Department of Foreign Affairs, it was renamed the Department of International Relations and Cooperation by President Jacob Zuma in May 2009. In the 2010 national budget, it received an appropriation of 4,824.4 million rand, and had 4,533 employees.Department of Labour (South Africa)
The Department of Employment and Labour is the department of the South African government responsible for matters related to employment, including industrial relations, job creation, unemployment insurance and occupational health and safety.
As of 29 May 2019 the Minister of Employment and Labour is Thembelani Thulas Nxesi. In the 2011/12 budget the department had a budget of R1,981 million and a staff complement of 3,490 civil servants.Department of Water and Sanitation
The Department of Water and Sanitation is one of the departments of the South African government. In May 2009, following the election of Jacob Zuma, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry was divided, with the forestry responsibility being transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The Department of Water and Sanitation was established in May 2014 by President Jacob Zuma with former Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane becoming the first Minister (26 May 2014 – 28 January 2018). She was replaced by Gugile Nkwinti.Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa
The Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa is a judge in the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the second-highest judicial post in the Republic of South Africa, after the Chief Justice. The post, originally called "Deputy President of the Constitutional Court", was created in September 1995 by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Second Amendment Act, 1995, which was an amendment to the Interim Constitution. The position was retained by the final Constitution which came into force in February 1997. In November 2001 the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of South Africa restructured the judiciary, and the post was renamed to "Deputy Chief Justice".The first Deputy President of the Constitutional Court was Ismail Mahomed. In 1997 he became Chief Justice, and was replaced by Pius Langa, who continued as Deputy Chief Justice after 2001. Justice Langa was elevated to Chief Justice in 2005, and succeeded by Dikgang Moseneke. Moseneke retired on 20 May 2016.Districts of South Africa
The nine provinces of South Africa are divided into 52 districts (sing. district, Tswana: kgaolo; Sotho: setereke; Northern Sotho: selete; Afrikaans: distrikte; Zulu: isifunda; Southern Ndebele: isiyingi; Xhosa: isithili; Swazi: isigodzi; Venda: tshiṱiriki; Tsonga: xifundza), which are either metropolitan or district municipalities. They are the second level of administrative division, below the provinces and (in the case of district municipalities) above the local municipalities.
As a consequence of the 12th amendment of the Constitution in December 2005, which altered provincial boundaries, the number of districts was reduced from 53. Another effect of the amendment is that each district is now completely contained within a single province, thus eliminating cross-border districts. The districts also cover the entire area of the continental republic.Free State (province)
The Free State (Sotho: Freistata; Afrikaans: Vrystaat; Xhosa: iFreyistata; Tswana: Foreistata; Zulu: iFuleyisitata; before 1995, the Orange Free State) is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bloemfontein, which is also South Africa's judicial capital. Its historical origins lie in the Boer republic called Orange Free State and later Orange Free State Province.Limpopo
Limpopo is the northernmost province of South Africa. It is named after the Limpopo River, (Lebepe River) which forms the province's western and northern borders. The name "Limpopo" has its etymological origin in the Sepedi language, meaning "strong gushing waterfalls". The capital is Polokwane, a Sepedi word meaning "place of safety" (formerly Pietersburg).
The province was formed from the northern region of Transvaal Province in 1994, and was initially named Northern Transvaal. The following year, it was renamed Northern Province, which remained the name until 2003, when it was formally changed to Limpopo after deliberation by the provincial government and amendment of the South African Constitution. An alternate name considered for the province was Mapungubwe.
The Northern Sotho language is the most spoken language in the province, being both the home and second language of more than 65% of the black language population. According to the 2011 census it was the first language of 5,174,795 people in South Africa, principally in the provinces of Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. The Northern Sotho (Bapedi) people traditionally inhabit large tracts of land mass estimated to be covering over 70% of the entire land in the province. The VhaTsonga make up 17.0% of the population while their neighbors the VhaVenda make up 16.7%. The Northern Ndebele and Khilobedu languages are in an unwritten form and efforts have been made to resuscitate the languages. Traditional leaders and chiefs still form a strong backbone of the province’s political landscape. Established in terms of the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders Act, Act 5 of 2005, the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders’s main function is to advise government and the legislature on matters related to custom, tradition and culture including developmental initiatives that have an impact on rural communities. On 18th August 2017 Kgoshi Malesela Dikgale was re-elected as the Chairperson of the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders.
The Zion Christian Church (or ZCC) is the largest African initiated church operating across Southern Africa. The church's headquarters are at Zion City Moria in Limpopo Province, South Africa (Northern Transvaal). The church was founded by Engenas Lekganyane in 1910 in his home village of Thabakgone, near Polokwane (Pietersburg).
According to the 1996 South African Census, the church numbered 3.87 million members. By the 2001 South African Census, its membership had increased to 4.97 million members. The final number of ZCC members is most likely between 8 and 10 million, in total, according to figures provided by Neal Collins from The New Age and Alex Matlala from The Citizen, two South African newspapers.Local municipality (South Africa)
In South Africa, a local municipality (Tswana: mmasepalaselegae; Sotho: masepala wa lehae; Northern Sotho: mmasepala wa selegae; Afrikaans: plaaslike munisipaliteit; Zulu: umasipala wendawo; Southern Ndebele: umasipaladi wendawo; Xhosa: umasipala wengingqi; Swazi: masipaladi wasekhaya; Venda: masipalawapo; Tsonga: masipala wa muganga) or Category B municipality is a type of municipality that serves as the third, and most local, tier of local government. Each district municipality is divided into a number of local municipalities, and responsibility for municipal affairs is divided between the district and local municipalities. There are 226 local municipalities in South Africa.
A local municipality may include rural areas as well as one or more towns or small cities. In larger urban areas there are no district or local municipalities, and a metropolitan municipality is responsible for all municipal affairs.Municipalities of South Africa
Local government in South Africa consists of municipalities (Tswana: bommasepala; Sotho: bomasepala; Northern Sotho: bommasepala; Afrikaans: munisipaliteite; Zulu: ngomasipala; Southern Ndebele: bomasipala; Xhosa: ngoomasipala; Swazi: bomasipala; Venda: vhomasipala; Tsonga: vamasipala) of various types. The largest metropolitan areas are governed by metropolitan municipalities, while the rest of the country is divided into district municipalities, each of which consists of several local municipalities. After the municipal election of 18 May 2011 there were eight metropolitan municipalities, 44 district municipalities and 226 local municipalities. Since the boundary reform at the time of the municipal election of 3 August 2016 there are eight metropolitan municipalities, 44 district municipalities and 205 local municipalities.Municipalities are governed by municipal councils which are elected every five years. The councils of metropolitan and local municipalities are elected by a system of mixed-member proportional representation, while the councils of district municipalities are partly elected by proportional representation and partly appointed by the councils of the constituent local municipalities.National Assembly of South Africa
The National Assembly is the lower house of the Parliament of South Africa, located in Cape Town, Western Cape Province. It consists of four hundred members who are elected every five years using a party-list proportional representation system where half of the members are elected proportionally from 9 provincial lists and the remaining half from national lists so as to restore proportionality.
The National Assembly is presided over by a Speaker, assisted by a Deputy Speaker. The current Speaker is Thandi Modise who previously served as the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces. She was elected on 22 May 2019. The Deputy Speaker is Solomon Lechesa Tsenoli who has served in the post since his election on 21 May 2014.North West (South African province)
North West (Tswana: Bokone Bophirima; Afrikaans: Noordwes; Southern Sotho: Leboya Bophirima; Xhosa: uMntla-Ntshona; Tsonga: N'walungu-Vupeladyambu; Zulu: iNyakatho Ntshonalanga; Northern Sotho: Leboa-Bodikela) is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Mahikeng. Klerksdorp is the largest city in the province. The province is located to the west of the major population centre of Gauteng.Northern Sotho language
Northern Sotho (Sesotho sa Leboa), also known by the name of its standardised dialect version Sepedi (or Pedi) is a Bantu language spoken primarily in South Africa, where it is one of the 11 official languages. According to the 2011 census it was the first language of 4,618,576 people in South Africa, principally in the provinces of Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.Parliament of South Africa
The Parliament of South Africa is South Africa's legislature and under the country's current Constitution is composed of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. The newly-elected 27th South African Parliament convened on 22 May 2019.
From 1910 to 1994, it was elected mainly by South Africa's white minority, before the first elections with universal suffrage were held in 1994.President of South Africa
The President of the Republic of South Africa is the head of state, head of government and the commander-in-chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) under the Constitution of South Africa. From 1961 to 1994, the head of state was called the State President.
The President is elected by the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, and is usually the leader of the largest party, which has been the African National Congress since the first non-racial elections were held on 27 April 1994. The Constitution limits the president's time in office to two five-year terms. The first president to be elected under the new constitution was Nelson Mandela. The incumbent is Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected by the National Assembly on 15 February 2018 following the resignation of Jacob Zuma.
Under the interim constitution (valid from 1994 to 1996), there was a Government of National Unity, in which a Member of Parliament (MP) from the largest opposition party was entitled to a position as Deputy President. Along with Thabo Mbeki, the last State President, F. W. de Klerk also served as Deputy President, in his capacity as the leader of the National Party which was the second-largest party in the new Parliament. But De Klerk later resigned and went into opposition with his party. A voluntary coalition government continues to exist under the new constitution (adopted in 1996), although there have been no appointments of opposition politicians to the post of Deputy President.
The President is required to be a member of the National Assembly at the time of his election. Upon his election, he immediately resigns his seat for the duration of his term. The President may be removed either by a motion of no-confidence or an impeachment trial.Provinces of South Africa
South Africa is divided into nine provinces. On the eve of the 1994 general election, South Africa's former homelands, also known as Bantustans, were reintegrated and the four existing provinces were divided into nine. The twelfth, thirteenth and sixteenth amendments to the constitution changed the borders of seven of the provinces.South African Reserve Bank
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) (Afrikaans: Suid-Afrikaanse Reserwebank) is the central bank of South Africa. It was established in 1921 after Parliament passed an act, the "Currency and Bank Act of 10 August 1920", as a direct result of the abnormal monetary and financial conditions which World War I had brought. The SARB was only the fourth central bank established outside the United Kingdom and Europe, the others being the United States, Japan and Java. The earliest suggestions for the establishment of the Central Bank in South Africa date back to 1879. A select committee, consisting of ten members of Parliament was established on 31 March 1920 to examine the benefits to the national interest of the establishing of the central bank.Following on the recommendations of the committee, the South African Reserve Bank opened for business on 30 June 1921, making it the oldest central bank in Africa. The first banknotes were issued to the public by the Bank on 19 April 1922.
Unlike the Bank of England, which provided the model for establishing the SARB, the SARB is privately owned.Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), formerly known as the Appellate Division, is an appellate court in South Africa. It is located in Bloemfontein.
mentioned in the
Note: The Guthrie classification is geographic and its groupings do not imply a relationship between the languages within them.