Setswana in South Africa


History of Setswana

The language, Tswana, is spoken widely in Southern Africa. Mainly in Botswana and in South Africa in the Northern Cape, the central and western Free State and in the North-West Province. There are also few speakers in Namibia.

Setswana was the first Sotho language written to have a written form. In 1806 Heinrich Lictenstein wrote Upon the Language of the Beetjuana. While in 1815, John Cambell wrote Bootchuana words and was followed by Burchell who wrote about Botswana in 1824. Dr Robert Moffat from the London Missionary Society arrived among the Batlhaping in Kudumane in 1818, and he built the first school for Botswana. In 1825, he realised that he must use and write Setswana in his teachings. He finished translating The Gospel according to Luke in 1830, The New Testament in 1840 and the Old Testament in 1857.

The first Motswana (speaker of Setswana) who contributed to the history of written Setswana is Sol D T. Plaatje, who, with the help of Professor Jones wrote Tones of Secwana Nouns in 1929. The New Testament and the Psalms were translated in 1963 in the 1910 authography and the whole Bible was translated into Setswana 1970.


Family: Bantu (or rather Ntu) Language Family Group: South Eastern Bantu (or rather Ntu) Subgroup: Sotho

VARIETIES of Setswana:

Related varieties include Sekgalagadi in Botswana and Shilozi in Namibia and Zambia.

Speakers of Setswana

Around 3 301 774 people in South Africa use it as their home language.