Northern Sotho language
|Sesotho sa Leboa/ Sepedi|
|Native to||South Africa|
|Region||Gauteng, Limpopo, parts of Mpumalanga|
|4.7 million (2011 census)|
9.1 million L2 speakers (2002)
|Latin (Northern Sotho alphabet)|
Official language in
|Regulated by||Pan South African Language Board|
Geographical distribution of Northern Sotho in South Africa: proportion of the population that speaks a form of Northern Sotho at home.
Geographical distribution of Northern Sotho in South Africa: density of Northern Sotho home-language speakers.
Northern Sotho, or Sesotho sa Leboa as an endonym, is a Sotho-Tswana language spoken in the northeastern provinces of South Africa. It is sometimes referred to as Sepedi, its main dialect, through synecdoche. However, there are strong objections to this political synecdoche by most other Northern Sotho dialect speakers, such as speakers of the Modjadji's Lobedu dialect.
According to the South African National Census of 2011, it is the first language of over 4,6 million (9,1%) people, making it the 5th most spoken language in South Africa. The Sepedi language is spoken most commonly in Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Limpopo provinces. 
The original confusion arose from the fact the Northern Sotho written language was based largely on the Sepedi dialect (from which missionaries first developed the orthography in 1860 by Merensky and others), but has subsequently provided a common writing system for 20 or more varieties of the Sotho-Tswana languages spoken in the former Transvaal.
Other varieties of Northern Sotho
Northern Sotho can be subdivided into Highveld-Sotho, which consists of comparatively recent immigrants mostly from the west and southwest parts of South Africa, and Lowveld-Sotho, which consists of a combination of immigrants from the north of South Africa and Sotho inhabitants of longer standing. Like other Sotho-Tswana people their languages are named after totemic animals and, sometimes, by alternating or combining these with the names of famous chiefs.[original research?]
The group consists of the following dialects:
- Bapedi Marota (in the narrower sense)
- Marota Mamone
- Marota Mohlaletsi
- Batau Bapedi (Matlebjane, Masemola, Marishane, Batau ba Manganeng - Nkadimeng Kgaphola, Nchabeleng, Mogashoa, Phaahla, Sloane, Mashegoana, Mphanama)
- Kone (Ga-Matlala)
- Bakgaga (Mphahlele, Maake, Mothapo)
- Tlou (Ga-Molepo)
- Thobejane (Ga-Mafefe)
- Batlokwa Ba Lethebe
- Bahananwa (Ga-Mmalebogo)
- Bakwena ba Moletjie (Moloto)
- Bamohlala/ Ba Ga Mohlala, Banareng, Ba Hwaduba Ba Ga Magale and many others.
The group consists of the Lobedu, Narene, Phalaborwa, Mogoboya, Kone, Kgaga, Pulana, Pai, and Kutswe.
Before Moshoeshoe and his Basotho nation of Lesotho, Basotho people were there. Moshoshoe didn't found Basotho, but he founded a nation made up of Sesotho speaking people from different Sesotho speaking clans in which the British imperialist in Southern Africa erroneously called the Basotho nation cutting them off from the rest of other Basothos outside Lesotho in the Orange Free State and Transvaal in present-day South Africa, Botswana as if Moshoshoe and his people were unique from other Basotho people. Basotho people were there before Moshoshoe the son of Mokhachane of another Basotho clan of Bamokoteli clan, united the smaller and vulnerable clans of Basothos under his Bakwena clan leadership during the Shaka wars of difaqane after other Basothos have migrated to different directions from their cradle in Ntswanatsatsi. Moshoshoe and his Bakwena clan and the rest of the other Basotho clan originate from Ntswanatsatsi in present-day South Africa. Families moved away from each other in Ntswanatsatsi and started clans using a totem as a symbol of their clan (like a crocodile (Koena) which Moshoshoe' ancestors used) and different families moved to different directions within precolonial South Africa under different leadership. Under different leadership some settled in the Western side, present-day North West Province others spread around Ntswanatsatsi to the present-day Free State and Lesotho, others to present-day Botswana others to present-day Zambiaothers moved to the present day Gauteng in South Africa and they became patriarchs of the founding fathers of Bakgatla which also gave birth to Northern Sotho which in turn gave birth to different Northern clans with their dialects like BaPedi , Batlokwa, Babirwa, etc and others ended up in inter-marrying with other tribes they moved next to and mingled with like Swatis, Vendas and Tsongas and Ngunis and in some places these Northern Basotho' Sotho was diluted by the influence of these tribe they found in the area, they moved into and lived alongside. This is what happened to a subgroup of Northern Basotho who end up becoming Mapulana with their Sesotho influenced by Swati. Also some of the Northern Basotho having a common denominator of "apa" (meaning talk) with Vendas, I mean Balovedu, BaGubu and Babirwa of Bobirwa in the Southern part of Botswana near the Zimbabwean border. All these Northern Sotho clans have their chief of leader, they never had a paramount king, so, it will be absurd to call them BaPedi because the BaPedi kings have never been their kings. They did their own things from Ramokgopha of Batlhokwa, Malebogo of Bahanawa, Matlala, etc, they were never part of the Pedi kingdom.
Until recently, Lobedu (also Khilovedu or Khelobedu) used to exist only in an unwritten form, and the standard Northern Sotho language (known as Sepedi) and orthography was usually used for teaching and writing by this language community. As of 2018, a Khilovedu dictionary is being compiled in addition to proper Khilovedu orthography which is also in the process of being developed.
The monarch associated with this language community is Queen Modjadji (also known as the Rain Queen). Lobedu is spoken by a majority of people in the Greater Tzaneen, Greater Letaba, and BaPhalaborwa municipalities, and a minority in Greater Giyani municipality, as well as in the Limpopo Province and Tembisa township in Gauteng. Its speakers are known as the Balobedu.
Northern Sotho is also spoken by the Mohlala people.
Sepedi is written in the Latin alphabet. The letter š is used to represent the sound [ʃ] ("sh" is used in the trigraph "tsh" to represent an aspirated ts sound). The circumflex accent can be added to the letters e and o to distinguish their different sounds, but it is mostly used in language reference books. Some word prefixes, especially in verbs, are written separately from the stem.
Within nasal consonant compounds, the first nasal consonant sound is recognized as syllabic. Words such as nthuše "help me", are pronounced as [n̩tʰuʃe]. /n/ can also be pronounced as /ŋ/ following a velar consonant.
Some examples of Sepedi words and phrases:
|Welcome||Kamogelo (noun) / Amogela (verb)|
|Good day||Dumela (singular) / Dumelang (plural) / Thobela and Re a lotšha (to elders)|
|How are you?||O kae? (singular) Le kae? (plural, also used for elders)|
|I am fine||Ke gona.|
|I am fine too, thank you||Le nna ke gona, ke a leboga.|
|Thank you||Ke a leboga (I thank you) / Re a leboga (we thank you)|
|Have a safe journey||O be le leeto le le bolokegilego|
|Good bye!||Šala gabotse (singular)/ Šalang gabotse (plural, also used for elders)(keep well) / Sepela gabotse(singular)/Sepelang gabotse (plural, also used for elders)(go well)|
|I am looking for a job||Ke nyaka mošomô|
|No smoking||Ga go kgogwe (/folwe)|
|No entrance||Ga go tsenwe|
|Beware of the steps!||Hlokomela disetepese!|
|Congratulations on your birthday||Mahlatse letšatšing la gago la matswalo|
|Seasons greetings||Ditumedišo tša Sehla sa Maikhutšo|
|Merry Christmas||Mahlogonolo a Keresemose|
|Merry Christmas and Happy New Year||Mahlogonolo a Keresemose le ngwaga wo moswa wo monate|
|Expression||Gontsha sa mafahleng|
|thank you||ke a leboga|
|I am sorry||Ke maswabi|
|I love you||Ke a go rata|
|Questions / sentences||Dipotšišo / mafoko|
|Do you accept (money/credit cards/traveler's cheques)?||O amogela (singular) / Le
amogela ( tshelete/.../...)?
|How much is this?||Ke bokae e?|
|I want ...||Ke nyaka...|
|What are you doing?||O dira eng?|
|What is the time?||Ke nako mang?|
|Where are you going?||O ya kae?|
|2||two – pedi|
|3||three – tharo|
|4||four – nne|
|5||five – hlano|
|6||six – tshela|
|7||seven – šupa|
|8||eight – seswai|
|9||nine – senyane|
|10||ten – lesome|
|11||eleven – lesometee|
|12||twelve – lesomepedi|
|13||thirteen – lesometharo|
|14||fourteen – lesomenne|
|15||fifteen – lesomehlano|
|20||twenty – masomepedi|
|21||twenty one – masomepedi-tee|
|22||twenty two – masomepedi-pedi|
|50||fifty – masomehlano|
|100||hundred – lekgolo|
|1000||thousand – sekete|
|Days of the week||Matšatši a beke|
|Months of the year||Dikgwedi tša ngwaga|
|Computers and Internet terms||Didirishwa tsa khomphutha le Inthanete|
|computer||sebaledi / khomphutara|
|e-mail address||aterese ya imeile|
|Internet café||khefi ya Inthanete|
|website address||aterese ya weposaete|
|To understand||Go kwešiša|
|Pale||Sehla or Tshehla|
- Northern Sotho at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Webb, Vic. 2002. "Language in South Africa: the role of language in national transformation, reconstruction and development." Impact: Studies in language and society, 14:78
- Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
- "SEPEDI - South African Language Sepedi". www.sa-venues.com. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
- "Sepedi First Language". Career Times. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
- Pukuntšu ya polelopedi ya sekolo: Sesotho sa Leboa/ Sepedi le Seisimane: e gatišitšwe ke Oxford = Oxford bilingual school dictionary: Northern Sotho and English. De Schryver, Gilles-Maurice. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa. 2007. pp. S24–S26. ISBN 9780195765557. OCLC 259741811.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Louwrens, Kosch, Kotzé, Louis J., Ingeborg M., Albert E. (1995). Northern Sotho. München: Lincom. pp. 4–11.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Ethnologue.com: Languages of South Africa
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Northern Sotho language.|
|Northern Sotho edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
- Dryer, Matthew S.; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Northern Sotho language". World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Northern Sotho language
- Online Northern Sotho – English dictionary
- Online Northern Sotho explanatory dictionary
- Pan South African Language Board
- Audio files in Pedi at Wikimedia Commons
- Spell checker for OpenOffice.org and Mozilla, OpenOffice.org, Mozilla Firefox web-browser, and Mozilla Thunderbird email program in Northern Sotho
- Translate.org.za Project to translate Free and Open Source Software into all the official languages of South Africa including Northern Sotho
- Keyboard with extra Northern Sotho characters