Pretoria Sotho

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Spitori (Pretoria Tswana)
Native to South Africa
Region Pretoria; Tshwane
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog None

Pretoria Sotho, or Pretoria Tswana (affectionately called Sepitori by its speakers),[2] is the urban lingua franca of Pretoria and the Tshwane metropolitan area in South Africa. It is a combination of Tswana and Northern Sotho (Pedi), with influences from Tsotsitaal, Afrikaans and other black South African languages. 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 Sotho and Northern Sotho are not commonly used in schools except in Tswana and Northern Sotho lessons. Pretoria Sotho (or Sepitori) is mutually intelligible with Tswana 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 part of the city of Tshwane have different variations of the language. The Garankuwa and Mabopane regions, which are dominated by Tswana-speakers, speak a form that is closely linked to the Setswana. The people of Mamelodi, in the east, speak a more complex form of Sepitori, as the area is generally more linguistically diverse.

People in the Garankuwa and Mabopane area's would say 'Keya ko gae' for 'I am going home'. Residents of Mamelodi for example would say, 'Ke ya ko joint'.

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.

In the Pretoria area, this became the language of the klevas, 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 made there was a growing number of people speak 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 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 Pretoria area say Ek se, as opposed to the native Setswana greeting of Dumelang or Thobela.[3]

Sepitori has a separate set of words to talking about money. In Setswana money is Madi and in Sepedi money is Chelete. The people of the Pretoria-Tshwane area use words such as nyoko, zaka, chankura and maphepha to refer to money.

Eintlek, spitori ki nthwe iti kopantsang wabona? Ge ri bua spitori, ase gore ri batla goba snaaks. Die ding ki polelo ya rona, ri tla kgole li yona wam verstaan? Ri kase no e jikela mo spacing.

References to monetary figures In Sepitori then English:

Dolla = 1 rand

Bois = 2 rand

Mpama = 5 rand

Jagged = 10 rand

Choko = 20 rand

Klipa = 100 rand

Blocko = 1000 rand

Meter = 1,000,000 rand[4]

Sepitori is fast becoming a first language. It is not known how many people speak it as it is mixed, informal language wirh 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.

Among young people in the City of Tshwane, it has become a primary language and as the current generation matures, it could replace Setswana and Sepedi and become thr dominant language.


  1. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  2. ^ Ditsele & Mann 2014
  3. ^ Khumo Thage: Literary Cartographer
  4. ^ Khumo Thage: Literary Cartographer
  • Ditsele, T. 2014. Why not use Sepitori to enrich the vocabularies of Setswana and Sepedi? Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 32(2): 215-228.
  • Ditsele, T. & Mann, C. C. 2014. Language contact in African urban settings: The case of Sepitori in Tshwane. South African Journal of African Languages, 34(2): 159-169.
  • Webb, Lapota, & Ramagoshi (2004) "Northern Sotho as medium of instruction", in Bromber & Smieja, eds., Globalisation and African Languages: Risks and Benefits