ǀXam language

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Region South Africa, Lesotho
Extinct 19??
  • ǃKwi
    • ǀXam
Language codes
ISO 639-3 xam
Glottolog xamm1241[1]

ǀXam (/Kham) /ˈkɑːm/, or ǀXam Kaǃkʼe, is an extinct Khoisan language of South Africa, part of the ǃkwi language group. It is closely related to the Nǁng language, which still has a few speakers.

ǀXam words were used for the South African motto adopted on 27 April 2000,

ǃke e: ǀxarra ǁke

which is supposed to mean diverse people unite or, on a collective scale, Unity in Diversity. However, it is not known if that phrase would have been idiomatic in ǀXam. ǀXam is not one of the eleven official languages of South Africa because it is extinct and has no more speakers (mother or second tongue).

The pipe at the beginning of the name "ǀXam" represents a dental click, like the English interjection tsk, tsk! used to express pity or shame. The x represents the g sound of Afrikaans geel or Setswana tokologo; or the ch of Scottish Gaelic loch, Russian khikhikat, German Bach, or Hebrew Chanukkah. There is little variation in rendering the name, compared to other Khoisan languages. Besides the simple orthographic variant ǀKham, there is a different grammatical form, ǀKhuai

Much of the scholarly work on the ǀXam language was performed by Wilhelm Bleek, a German linguist of the 19th century. He had studied a variety of ǀXam spoken at Achterveld, and (with Lucy Lloyd) another spoken at Strandberg and Katkop.[2]


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kham". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ Güldemann (2011)

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