|Region||South Africa, Lesotho|
ǀXam (/Kham) (IPA: [|͡xam], English pronunciation //), or ǀXam Kaǃkʼe, is an extinct Khoisan language of South Africa, part of the ǃUi branch of the Tuu languages. It is closely related to the moribund Nǁng language. Much of the scholarly work on ǀXam was performed by Wilhelm Bleek, a German linguist of the 19th century, who studied a variety of ǀXam spoken at Achterveld, and (with Lucy Lloyd) another spoken at Strandberg and Katkop.
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⟩ denotes a voiceless velar fricative click accompaniment.
Compared to other Khoisan languages, there is little variation in rendering the name though it is sometimes seen with the simple orthographic variant ǀKham, as well as a different grammatical form, ǀKhuai.
Compared to other Tuu languages like Taa, ǀXam has a more restricted inventory of consonants particularly the clicks, where there are only 8 series of click accompaniments, far fewer than East !Xoon Taa's 18. A preliminary consonant inventory of ǀXam, including egressive stops, fricatives, and affricates as well as ingressive clicks, is listed below.
Bleek notes that particular animal figures in ǀXam mythology have distinctive speech patterns, including ingressive sounds and changes in click type. For example, the Tortoise speaks with predominantly bilabial clicks, the Ichneumon uses palatal and dental click-sibilant clusters, and the Jackal is even said to use an unusual lateralised bilabial click. The Moon, Hare and Anteater even use an "unpronounceable" click in place of all clicks save the bilabial. Other changes noted include the Blue Crane's speech, who ends the first syllable of almost every word with a /t/.
Motto of South Africa
- ǃke e: ǀxarra ǁke
The intended meaning is Diverse people unite or, on a collective scale, Unity in Diversity. The word-for-word translation is people who are different meet. However, it is not known if that phrase would have been idiomatic in ǀXam. Because it is extinct, ǀXam is not one of the eleven official languages of South Africa.
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kham". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Güldemann (2011)
- Vossen, Rainer (1 January 2013). The Khoesan Languages. Psychology Press. p. 210. ISBN 9780700712892.
- 1827–1875, Bleek, W.H.I. (Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel),; 1834–1914, Lloyd, Lucy,. "A brief account of Bushman folklore and other texts". repository.up.ac.za. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
- Bleek, Dorothea Frances (1 January 1956). Bushman dictionary. New Haven,: American Oriental Society. pp. 419, 36, 363, 566.
- Bleek's Bushman Dictionary records !k'e e: |xarra with the meaning "strangers".
- Bleek and Lloyd Archive of ǀxam and ǃkun texts online
- A crowdsourcing project to transcribe the Bleek and Lloyd Collection
- South African coat of arms
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