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The first identified language spoken in the South Africa was Khoisan. This language was spoken by the indigenous people of South Africa, the Khoikhio, who lived mainly in the southern coastal regions of the country. Over the years this language has slowly faded away along with the native Khoikhio people. Today there are only a few native South Africans left who can still speak Khoisan living in the western sections of the country.
Some time around the eighth century many Bantu tribes migrated south from central Africa into the northern territories of South Africa. Each of these Bantu tribes brought with them their own distinct Bantu language—nine of which still remain and are recognized today as official languages by the South African Government. These languages are used throughout the African population, which makes up three quarters of South Africa’s people. These languages include: Sesotho, Tsonga, Pedi, Tswana, Venda; and the Nguni group of Bantu languages: Xhosa, Ndebele, Swazi, and Zulu.
In the present, Zulu is the Bantu language with the largest number of speakers. In KwaZulu and Natal there are nine million people that speak this language. Falling right behind with seven million speakers is the language of Xhosa. Xhosa can be found around Transei, Ciskei, and on the Eastern Cape. The official language of Swaziland is Swazi with two million speakers. The last Nguni language is Ndebele, which is spoken by half a million people in some northeastern parts of South Africa. Between the four separate Nguni languages there are 12 different dialects. Pedi and Sesotho are both a part of the Sotho group of Bantu Languages and they share 11 different dialects. Pedi is the strongest language in the Sotho group. Pedi has four million speakers all over the country. Three million people in Qwaqwa and Orange Free State speak Sesotho. Tsonga, which has four dialects, has four million speakers living in Mozambique and Swaziland. Tswana spoken in Botswana has around three million speakers. Venda, spoken mainly in Transvaal, has over half a million speakers.
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