|Geographic location:||Angola, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa|
|Number of Languages:||65|
|Number of Genetic Units:||6|
|Mean Level of Endangerment:|
|Mean Documentation Status:|
The Southern Africa hotspot covers a sparsely populated area, but one that is full of diverse languages. This area includes dry savannas, mountains, the Namib Desert, and the Kalahari Desert. Languages and knowledge systems in the area are endangered because of the dramatic changes in the way of life of groups throughout the area in the last 50 years.
One group whose way of life has changed dramatically in the last 50 years is the !Kung of Namibia and Botswana, who have switched from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to farming and herding cattle. With this change, !Kung speakers have lost traditional knowledge about hunting and gathering permanently, as there is no !Kung writing system. The exclamation point in !Kung represents a click – in fact, a particular kind of click. Many languages in Africa, as well as a few in other parts of the world, clicks as part of their consonant system. !Kung has four different click sounds.
Genetic Units found in Hotspot (6):
- Central Khoisan
- Northern Khoisan
- Southern Khoisan
- Unclassified (Yauma)
List of Languages:
- Kwadi [extinct]
- Sotho N
- ú Hua
Endangered Languages include:
- Kua (817 speakers, Central Khoisan)
- Néu (< 10 speakers, Southern Khoisan)
- ú Hua (200 speakers, Southern Khoisan)
- Xiri (87 speakers, Central Khoisan)
Some Features of Languages in Hotspot include:
- Voice quality contrasts in vowels (breathy and creaky voice)
- Grammatical tone
In ||Gana (800 speakers, Botswana; the two lines are a click), plants and animals are split into three categories: edible 'eat-things' (kx'ooxo), harmful 'bite-things' (paaxo), and 'useless things' (goõwahaxo).
Maho, Jouni. 1998. Few people, many tongues: the languages of Namibia. Gamsberg: Macmillan Publishers.
Andersson, Lars-Gunnar & Tore Janson. 1997. Languages in Botswana: language ecology in southern Africa. Longman Botswana: Gaborone.
Howell, Nancy. Demography of the Dobe !Kung. Aldine Transaction.
Shostak, Marjorie. Nisa: the Life and Words of a !Kung Woman. James & James/Earthscan