Khoekhoe language

Spoken in

Namibia: around 176,000 plus 16,000 Hai ǁ om Botswana: 200-1000 South Africa: around 56,000

  • Khoe Khoekhoe North Khoekhoe Nama


Hgm ( Hai ǁ om ), NAQ ( Nama )

The Khoekhoegowab (deprecated known as Nama or Damara or Nama - Damara, very outdated as Hottentot ) is the language of the Nama, Damara and Hai ǁ om, and geographically and by number of speakers, the most widespread Khoisan language. It belongs to the Khoe language family. Khoekhoegowab is spoken in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa of about 250,000 people ( Ethnologue, 1998).

In Namibia, it is a national language. In South Africa, it is recognized, there is, however, unlike Afrikaans, English and nine Bantu languages ​​spoken there not official. In ISO 639-3, the two dialects Nama ( NAQ ) and Hai ǁ om ( hgm ) can be distinguished. The language is closely related to the dying Korana and the extinct languages ​​of Khoikhoin the Cape.

Geographical Distribution

Nama has about 250,000 speakers in Namibia, South Africa, and a few in Botswana.


  • Damara
  • Sesfontein Damara
  • Namidama
  • Zentraldamara
  • Nama
  • Gimsbok Nama
  • Hai ǁ om
  • Korana
  • Xiri


With eight vowels and consonants, the 31 Nama has a Khoisan languages ​​for simple sound inventory (compare the 128 of! XOo ). Of the 31 consonants 20 are clicking sounds.

There are five vowel qualities ( a, e, i, o, u), of which three ( ã ĩ, ũ ) can be nasalized. The vowels can be long or short, there are numerous diphthongs ( diphthongs ): [ əi ae əu ao ui oa oe] and nasal [ əĩ əũ UI OA]. [ ə ] is phonemically / a /. There are three tones: rising, flat, falling - the first and last to write mostly with á or à, the average is rarely written.


Non - clicking sounds

/ p / is [ β ] and pronounced / t / between vowels as [ ɾ ].

Clicking sounds

The clicking sounds (clicks ) can dental, be lateral, alveolar or palatal, they can of plosives, aspirated plosives, with glottal plosives, nasals and aspirated nasals are accompanied (ie 4 [ Schnalzpositionen ] x 5 [ companion ] = 20 [ possible clicking sounds ] ).

The aspirated clicking sounds are often called affricates (combined closure and fricatives ) pronounced. This means that / k | ˣ / of [k ʰ! ] Can be pronounced to [k x! ].


The Nama has a subject-object -verb word order.

Nama in everyday life and formal sector

In Namibia, where Nama is a national language, one can study Nama at the University of Namibia. Both in Namibia and in South Africa you can hear radio broadcasts on Nama. There are also dictionaries Nama - English and English - Nama published. The language is not threatened with extinction. Some translation examples:

Example: a fable ( from Hagman 1977)

Xam -i ke ' a | urun Hoan tì kàó'ao káísep ' a | AISA | óm ̊ ǁ Xai, xápú kxáó, tsií Haese ra xóés ' flavor! .

! Tsií maátsekám ̊ ǁ ǂ xam xam ke óakas hòásàp -à ÁROP naa ǂ ' OA tsií ̊ ǁ ' iip tì |! Aísìpà SII Kere | Nooku NAU | urun | XAA. Tsií maa ke tsèes hòásàp ̊ ǁ ' IIPA Kere ' OA | XII tàn'aose. Tsií nee ǂ HOAs ke |! Urun Huup hòárákap naa kè ̊ ǁ ǂ nàúhè tsií ' AnHe ' ïî xam -i ' a |! Urun tì kàó'ao xáisà. Tsií Maa tsèes híí'ap Kere ' OA |! XII Tan tsiís kxáó AA' oos ke ̊ ǁ ' iip tì ̊ ǁ uusa Kere koápi " tii ' óátse |! Óm nórótse xápú kxáótse |! ! Óm ̊ ǁ xáítse ' AORE kxòetse! " tí.

Xapes ke | ui tsekám ̊ ǁ OAKA kxàí -maa ke tsiíp ǂ xam xam -à kàrósn ' oo xoo |! Xáapi " | óm ̊ ǁ xáítse |! Óm nórótse xam ̊ ǁ! ' Oatse xápú kxáótse! " tí, xoo |! xáapi Toa tsií kè Mii " am'aseta ke ra ǂ óm SAATS maa | urun Hoan xaa! ' a |! . Aísa xáisà Maa tsèes hòásàts ke saátsà ǂ ' OA ÁROP naa tsií! ' OA | XII tsií ra ̊ ǁ aute ' am'asets saátsà ' a | urun! . tì kàó'ao xáisà Xape, tii ' óátse |! UI tsèets ke nii ǂ ' OA ÁROP naa Tsií ǂ ' OA tsiíts ÁROP naa ra uumaa híí'ats ke ǂ Xari xuuróp ǂ Hanuse ra uu xoótì naa ǂ Nua tànásepà NII Muu Tsií, TII! .! !. ' óátse |! óm ̊ ǁ xáítse |! óm nórótse xápú kxáótse ̊ ǁ NAA ǂ Xari xuuróp |! xáats Kara | haó'ú tsèes ̊ ǁ Naas ' ais ke Soresa NII ǂ aa ' OA |. xii tamats haa híí'a ̊ ǁ NAA xuuróp tì | ' ons ke " kxòep " tí ra ǂ AIHE.

The lion is the king of all animals because he is very strong, powerful running in the chest, slender waist and in his fast.

Every morning was the young lion in the forest in order to compare its power with that of other animals. And every day he returned victorious. This message was heard throughout the animal world and well known: that the lion is the king of beasts. Every day when he came home victorious, he praised his mother: " My son! Powerful in the neck! Powerful in the chest! A real man! "

But one morning, when the young lion had just got up and stretched, she praised him " Mighty in the chest! Powerful in the neck! With lion's arms!! Slim in the waist, " ceased to praise him, and said," Really, I 'm sure you're the strongest of all animals. Every day you go into the woods and kehrst back, and show me that you are truly the king of beasts. But, my son, one day you will go into the forest. And while you 're going around in the forest, you'll see a little thing that walks upright and sits its head on your shoulders. And, my son! Powerful in the chest! Powerful in the neck! Slim in the waist! , On the day that you meet this little thing, on this day the sun will set and you will not be returned. The name of this little thing is, man '. "


The first written records of Khoekhoegowab goes back to Georg Friedrich Wreede. The first printing unit in the Nama language was Luther's Catechism, which in Scheppmansdorf (now Rooibank ) was launched with a circulation of 300 copies from the Protestant missionary Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt on 29 June 1855.