- Khoekhoe language
Khoekhoe Khoekhoegowab Spoken in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa Region Orange River, Great Namaland Ethnicity Khoikhoi, Nama, Damara Native speakers 250,000 (2006)
plus possibly 50,000 Haiǁom (no date)
- North Khoekhoe
- North Khoekhoe
DialectsNama–DamaraHaiǁomǂĀkhoe Official status Regulated by No official regulation Language codes ISO 639-3 either:
hgm – Haiǁom
naq – NamaThe distribution of the Nama language in Namibia.
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The Khoekhoe language, or Khoekhoegowab, also known by the ethnic term Nàmá and previously the now-discouraged term Hottentot, is the most widespread of the Khoisan languages. It belongs to the Khoe language family, and is spoken in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa by three ethnic groups, the Nama, Damara, and Haiǁom. It appears that the Damara picked up the language from the Nama in Botswana, and that they migrated to Namibia separately from the Nama. The Haiǁom, who had spoken a Juu language, later shifted to Khoekhoe. The name for Nama speakers, Khoekhoen, is from the Nama word khoe "person", with reduplication and the suffix -n to indicate the plural. Georg Friedrich Wreede was the first European who studied the language, after arriving in 1659.
Khoekhoe is a national language in Namibia. In Namibia and South Africa, radio programs are broadcast in it. In Namibia, it is used for teaching up to the university level, as well as in the administration.
- ǂĀkhoe (itself a dialect cluster)
- Sesfontein Damara (said to be mutually unintelligible)
- Nama – Central Damara
- Eini (extinct)
There are 5 vowel qualities, found as oral /i e a o u/ and nasal /ĩ ã ũ/. These may be long or short, and there are several sequences or diphthongs: oral [əi ae əu ao ui oa oe] and nasal [ə̃ĩ ə̃ũ ũĩ õã]. ([ə] is phonemically /a/.)
Nama has three tones, /á, ā, à/, which may occur on vowels and nasal stops. The mid tone is not written.
Nama has 31 consonants: 20 clicks and a simple set of 11 non-clicks.
Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal Nasal m n Plosive p ~ β t ~ ɾ k kʰ ʔ Fricative s x h
Between vowels, /p/ is pronounced [β] and /t/ is pronounced [ɾ]. In the orthography, p, t, k indicate that the following vowel carries a high tone, while b, d, g that it carries a low tone.
The clicks are doubly articulated consonants. Each click consists of one of four primary articulations or "influxes" and one of five secondary articulation or "effluxes". The combination of influxes and effluxes results in 20 phonemes.
The aspirated clicks are often pronounced as affricates. That is, /kǃˣ/ may be pronounced anywhere from [kǃʰ] to [kǃx].
The voiceless nasal accompaniment is difficult to hear when not between vowels, so to foreign ears it may sound like a longer but less raspy version of the aspirated accompaniment.
There have been several orthographies used for Nama, with sometimes conflicting differences in the representation of the clicks. In A Khoekhoegowab dictionary (Haacke 2000) the standardized version of Nama orthography has been used.
accompaniment affricated clicks 'sharp' clicks standardized
Tenuis ǀ ǁ ǃ ǂ ⟨ǃg⟩ Aspirated ǀˣ ǁˣ ǃˣ ǂˣ ⟨ǃkh⟩ Nasal ᵑǀ ᵑǁ ᵑǃ ᵑǂ ⟨ǃn⟩ Voiceless nasal with
ᵑ̊ǀʰ ᵑ̊ǁʰ ᵑ̊ǃʰ ᵑ̊ǂʰ ⟨ǃh⟩ Tenuis with glottal stop ǀˀ ǁˀ ǃˀ ǂˀ ⟨ǃ⟩
Nama has a subject–object–verb word order and has three gender classes: male, female and neuter. Male and female nouns have a singular, dual and plural; while neuter nouns only have singular and plural number.
singular dual plural Female piris pirira piridi goat Male arib arikha arigu dog Neuter khoe-i n/a khoen people
Khoekhoe distinguishes between inclusive and exclusive 1st person plural pronouns. Sida is the exclusive form for we, it only includes a specific group; as opposed to sada, which is inclusive and refers to all.
Following is a sample text in the Khoekhoe language.
Xam-i ge ʼa ǀgúrún hòán dì gàó-ao; káíseb ʼa ǀgaísa, kai ǁkháí, #khari xabu, tsi ǃháése ra ǃkhóé !khais ǃʼáróma.
Tsi matsekám ǁgóagas hòásàb ge ǂkham xamroba ǃgárob ǃna ǂgá tsi ǁʼib dì ǀgaíba náú ǀgúrún !oagu gere /nogu. Tsi má tsès hòásàb ge ǁʼibà dànʼaose gere oa/khi. Tsi ne ǂhòas ge ǀgúrún ǃhúb hòárágab ǃna gè ǁnàúhè tsí ǂʼánhè ʼií xam-i ʼa ǀgúrún dì gàó-ao ǃkháisà. Tsi má tsès híʼab gèrè ʼóa-ǀkhí dàn tsís kháóǃgá ʼoos ge ǁʼib dì ǁgusà gèrè koábi: "tíí ʼóátse! ǀui ǃnórótse! /ui xábú kháótse! kai ǁkháítse! ʼáore khòetse!" tí.
Xawes ge ǀgúí tsekám ǁgóaga khàí-má tsib ge ǂkkam xamrobà a kàrósen ʼo ge ǃkhóǀkhábi "//au ǁkháítseǃ ǀui ǃnórótse! xam ǁ’oatseǃ /ui xábú kháótseǃ" tí, !khóǀkhabi tóá tsi gè mí "amʼaseta ge ra ǂgóm sáts má ǀgúrún hòán xa ʼa ǀgaísa ǃkháisà. Má tsès hòásàts ge sátsà ǂʼoá ǃgárob ǃna tsí ʼóa-ǀkhí tsí ra ǁgaute ʼamʼasets sátsà ʼa ǀgúrún dì gàó-ao ǃkháisà. Xawe, tí ʼóátseǃ ǀgúí tsèts ge ní ǂʼoá ǃgárob ǃna. Tsí ǂʼoá tsíts ǃgárob ǃna ra ǃguma híʼats ge ǂkharí xurób ǂhanúse ra ǃgú, ǃhodì ǃna ǂnùa dàná sa ibà ní mù. Tsí, tí ʼóátseǃ //au ǁkháítseǃ ǀui ǃnórótseǃ /ui xábú kháótseǃ ǁná ǂkharí xurób xáts kà rà ǀhaóʼú tsi tsès ǁnaás ʼáís ge sóresà ní ǂga ʼóa-ǀkhí tamats hà híʼa. ǁná xurób tì ǀʼòns ge a "khòeb" tí ra ǂgaíhè.
The lion is king of all the beasts because he is very strong, thick of chest, slim of waist, and runs fast.
Every morning, the young lion would go out into the forest and compare his strength with the other beasts. And every day he would return the victor. This news was heard and known throughout the animal world: that the lion was king of the beasts. Every day that he would return victorious, his mother would praise him, "Son of mine! Thick of neck! Slim of waist! Thick of chest! He-man!"
But one morning, when having got up the young lion was stretching, she praised him, "Thick of chest! Thick of neck! Lion-armed! Slim of waist!," finished praising him and said, "I truly believe that you are strongest of all the beasts. Every day you go out into the forest and return, and show me that you are truly king of the beasts. But, my son, one day you will go out into the forest. And while you are out walking around in the forest, you will see a little thing which walks straight, its head sitting on its shoulders. And, Son of mine! Thick of chest! Thick of neck! Slim of waist!, the day you meet that little thing, on that day the sun will set while you have not returned. The name of that little thing is called 'man'.
Common words and phrases
- ǃGãi tses - Good day
- ǃGãi ǁhoas - Good morning
- ǃGãi ǃhoes - Good evening
- Matisa - How are you?
- ǃGãise ǃgu re - Goodbye
- ǃHaese mugus - See you soon
- Beach, Douglas M. 1938. The phonetics of the Hottentot language. Cambridge: Heffer.
- Haacke, Wilfrid. 1976. A Nama grammar: the noun-phrase. MA thesis. University of Cape Town.
- Haacke, Wilfrid H. G. 1977. "The so-called "personal pronoun" in Nama. In Traill, Anthony, ed., Khoisan linguistic studies 3, 43-62. Communications 6. Johannesburg: African Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand.
- Haacke, Wilfrid. 1978. Subject deposition in Nama. MA thesis. University of Essex. Colchester (UK).
- Haacke, Wilfrid. 1992. "Compound noun phrases in Nama". In Derek F. Gowlett, ed., African linguistic contributions (Festschrift Ernst Westphal), 189-194. Pretoria: Via Afrika.
- Haacke, Wilfrid. 1992. "Dislocated noun phrases in Khoekhoe (Nama/Damara): further evidence for the sentential hypothesis". Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere, 29, 149-162.
- Haacke, Wilfrid. 1995. "Instances of incorporation and compounding in Khoekhoegowab (Nama/Damara)". In Anthony Traill, Rainer Vossen and Marguerite Anne Megan Biesele, eds., The complete linguist: papers in memory of Patrick J. Dickens", 339-361. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
- Haacke, Wilfrid, Eliphas Eiseb and Levi Namaseb. 1997. Internal and external relations of Khoekhoe dialects: a preliminary survey". In Wilfrid Haacke & Edward D. Elderkin, eds., Namibian languages: reports and papers, 125-209. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag for the University of Namibia.
- Haacke, Wilfrid. 1999. The tonology of Khoekhoe (Nama/Damara). Quellen zur Khoisan-Forschung/Research in Khoisan studies, Bd 16. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
- Haacke, Wilfrid H.G. & Eiseb, Eliphas (2002) A Khoekhoegowab dictionary with an English-Khoekhoegowab index. Windhoek : Gamsberg Macmillan. ISBN 99916-0-401-4
- Hagman, Roy S. 1977. Nama Hottentot grammar. Language science monographs, v 15. Bloomington: Indiana University.
- Hahn, Theophilus. 1870. Die Sprache der Nama, nebst einem Anhang enthaltend Sprachproben aus dem Munde des Volkes. Redigierte Ausgabe eine Dissertation mit einem Anhang über Mythen der Khoi-khoin nebst Übersetzung und Wörterverzeichnis. Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth.
- Map of Nàmá language (Khoekhoe) from the LL-Map Project
- Information about Nàmá language from the MultiTree Project
- Nama grammar and a story at Cornell (dead link as of January 2009; cached by the Internet Archive)
- Nama Information from Rosetta Project (dead link as of 17-Oct-2010)
- The Ethnologue report for Nama
- The Ethnologue report for Haiǁʼom
- Nama (KhoeKhoegowab) Phrase Video Lessons
- KhoeSan Active Awareness Group (dead link as of 17-Oct-2010)
Khoisan languages Languages of South Africa OfficialSouthern Bantu PanSALB11 unofficial languages mentioned in the 1996 constitution Languages of Botswana Bantu Khoisan Indo-EuropeanAfrikaans · English (official) Languages of Namibia OfficialEnglish Recognized regional Other Bantu languages Khoisan
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