Pretoria Sotho

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Native toSouth Africa
RegionPretoria; Tshwane
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Pretoria Taal, or Pretoria Sotho (affectionately called Sepitori/S'pitori by its speakers),[2] is the urban lingua franca of Pretoria and the Tshwane metropolitan area in South Africa. It is a combination of Sepedi-Tswana and influences from Tsotsitaal, Afrikaans and other Bantu languages of the region. It is spoken by most black residents of all ages and levels of education in Tshwane. Though it is most commonly used in informal situations, it is also used in schools and at political events in which people have different language backgrounds. Standard Setswana and Northern Sotho (represented by Sepedi) are not commonly used in schools except in SeTswana and Northern Sotho lessons. Pretoria Tswana (or Sepitori) is mutually intelligible with SeTswana and Northern Sotho.

It is a very dynamic and fluid language that changes over time. Words such as stelle, stocko and wadijaja are new concepts used and did not exist a decade ago. Another interesting feature is that different parts of the city of Tshwane have different variations of the language. The Garankuwa, Mabopane and Hammanskraal regions, which are dominated by Tswana-speakers, speak a form that is closely linked to Setswana. The areas Soshanguve, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville are dominated by Sepedi - Speakers, and speak a form that is closely linked to Sepedi hence the use of words like: Bolela or Nyaka instead of Bua or Batla in Tswana. SoShaNguVe remains the most diverse as the name suggests SOtho (both Setwana and Sepedi) SHAngan ( Tsonga ) Nguni and Venda.

People in the Garankuwa and Mabopane areas would say 'Keya ko nna' for 'I am going home'. Residents of Mamelodi and Atteridgeville for example would say, 'Ke ya jarateng' they also might use 'keya ko nna' as well. While residents of Soshanguve for example would say 'keya jointeng or keya dladleng'

There is a strong relationship between it and Afrikaans and Tsotsitaal. Afrikaans is a fusion of the Dutch language from the Netherlands and local Khoisan and Cape Malay variations. Tsotsitaal is a form of Afrikaans which is used in urban South Africa, originally by thugs trying to disguise their language. It was soon associated with being cool and with the times, and broader society began to use it.

Many criminals in urban areas were former mine workers, construction workers and farmers. In revolt against the industrial oppression and the apartheid regime in general, gangs began participating in criminal activities and would plot and scheme in crowded township environments. The people of Mamelodi like to incorporate the variations of other Pretorian townships. So most of the words used in other places are either considered obsolete or are adopted into the ever changing language. So you could say "Sepetori se metsi" which has multiple means depending on context in this it would mean that Sepetori is new.

In the Pretoria area, this became the language of di kleva( well-dressed township-dwellers who were trendy and up to speed with cultural developments). The high social status that came with being recognized as a kleva resulted in a growing number of people speaking that way. Tsotsitaal thus went from being a cult-like secret code to being a medium of communication in the urban areas around Gauteng.

Sepitori is full of Afrikaans because of its influence during segregation (apartheid era), were white people (Afrikaans speakers) were placed in the well developed areas of Pretoria, these areas were considered upper class, since all the new and latest city developments were done in these Pretorian areas. Then the well dressed township dwellers (kleva) started having a combination of afrikaans words in their speech, resulting in the language having terms such as Dae Man, Ek Se, Daarso, Is waar, Nou die laas and Jy Verstaan, which are used on a daily basis. When greeting, people in the Praetorian area use the native Setswana greeting of Dumelang/ Ashe and the colloquial "Ek Se". The latter is preferred by the youth, while the former is generally used by elders and in official community events.[3]

Sepitori has a separate set of words to used when talking about money. The people of the Pretoria-Tshwane area use words such as nyoko, zaka, lechankura and maphepha to refer to money.

An example of a sepitori passage would be:

Eintlek, s'pitori ke nthwe e te kopantshang wabona? Ge re ova s'pitori, a se gore re nyaka goba snaaks. Die ding ke s'praka sa rona. Re tlha ver le yona wang verstaan? Re ka seno betha sdudla mo spacing.
"Actually, sepitori is a thing that just goes with the flow, you see? When we speak sepitori it's not that we want to be rude. It's our language; we have been using it for a long time so we can't just abandon it."

References to monetary figures In Sepitori then English :

  • 5 ion = 50 cents
  • Dolla = 1 rand
  • Bois/Pond = 2 rands
  • Arr 5/Lekopi/Half mug = 5 rands
  • Jacket = 10 rands
  • Choko = 20 rands
  • 5 Jacket/5 nought/Pinkies = 50 rands
  • Klipa = 100 rands
  • Leplanka/Custard/2 Klipa = 200 rands
  • Stena/Blocko = 1000 rands
  • Meter/Ferrari = 1,000,000 rands[4]

A common expression in Pretoria is "dilo di nametse RunX" which means that things are going good.

Sepitori is fast becoming a first language. It is not known how many people speak it, as it is mixed, informal language with Sepedi and Setswana. If it is understood to be a language of its own, it would be the most spoken language in the northern parts of Gauteng and the eastern parts of the North-West Province, particularly Brits area because of its proximity to Pretoria.

Among young people in the City of Tshwane, it has become a primary language of communicating with each other.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ditsele, Thabo. 2014. "Why Not Use Sepitori to Enrich the Vocabularies of Setswana and Sepedi?" Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 32(2): 215-228.
  • ———. 2019. "Assessing Social Media Submissions Presented as Sepitori on #LearnPitori." Arusha Working Papers in African Linguistics, 2(1): 1-21.
  • Ditsele, Thabo and C.C. Mann. 2014. "Language Contact in African Urban Settings: The Case of Sepitori in Tshwane." South African Journal of African Languages, 34(2): 159-169.
  • Webb, Vic, Biki Lepota, and Refilwe Ramagoshi. 2004. "Northern Sotho as Medium of Instruction in Vocational Training", in Bromber & Smieja, eds., Globalisation and African Languages: Risks and Benefits.


  1. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  2. ^ Ditsele & Mann 2014
  3. ^ Khumo Thage: Literary Cartographer
  4. ^ Khumo Thage: Literary Cartographer