Languages of Botswana

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Languages of Botswana
OfficialEnglish, Tswana
NationalTswana, Sekalaka, Seherero

The official languages of Botswana are English and Tswana. English, which was inherited from colonial rule, is the language of official business and most written communication. Most of the population speak Tswana, but over 20 smaller languages are also spoken. Some of the country's languages are in danger of becoming extinct.

Official languages[edit]

The official written language of Botswana is English.[citation needed] Most written communication and official business texts are written in English. The language of the Tswana peopleSetswana—is the country's national language, and is spoken by most of the population.[1]

Other languages[edit]

Although there are two clear official languages, there are other languages that are spoken. Over 90% of the population speak a Bantu language as their first language.[citation needed] According to the CIA's World Factbook, the most common Bantu languages spoken are Setswana (77.3% of the population), Kalanga (7.4%), Kgalagadi (3.4%), Shona (2%), Mbukushu (1.6%) and Ndebele (1%). 1.7% speak Tshwa (a Khoe language) and 0.1% speak !Xóõ, a Tuu language (both non-Bantu).[2] English is spoken by 2.8% as their first language, and a small number speak Afrikaans.

The number of individual languages listed for Botswana is 31.[who said this?] All are living languages. Of these, 26 are indigenous and 5 are non-indigenous. Furthermore, 4 are institutional, 9 are developing, 8 are vigorous, 9 are in trouble, and 1 is dying.[3]

Languages spoken[edit]

The distribution of the three major language families in the Kalahari Basin area
  1. Afrikaans
  2. Ani
  3. Birwa
  4. Chichewa
  5. English
  6. Gana
  7. Gciriku
  8. Gwi
  9. Hai||om
  10. Herero
  11. ‡Hua
  12. Ju|’hoansi
  13. Kalanga
  14. Kgalagadi
  15. Khoekhoe
  16. Khwedam
  17. Kua
  18. Kuhane
  19. Kung-Ekoka
  20. Lozi
  21. Mbukushu
  22. Nambya
  23. Naro
  24. Ndebele
  25. Setswana
  26. Shua
  27. Tshuwau
  28. Tswapong
  29. !Xóõ
  30. Yeyi
  31. Zezuru
  32. isiXhosa


  1. ^ Mwakikagile 2009, p. 75.
  2. ^ "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency". Retrieved 2016-09-19.
  3. ^ "Botswana". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-07-17.


Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]

Khoisan languages

External links[edit]