South Africa’s most populous city, Johannesburg attracts people from all over the world who speak a diversity of languages.
Many different languages are spoken in Johannesburg, making it a multilingual metropolis. There are 11 official languages spoken in Johannesburg, with English, Isizulu, Isixhosa and SeSotho being the most commonly spoken languages.
In Johannesburg, 32% of people speak Nguni at home, 24% speak Sotho at home, 18% speak English, 7% speak Afrikaans, and 6% speak Tshivenda at home.
Zulu has a population of 178,775 and a 19.60% first language population.
- Sotho 41,113 4.51
- Xhosa 47,714 5.23
- Afrikaans 110,430 12.11
- Tswana 37,405 4.10\sSepedi 40,562 4.45
- English 284,094 31.14
- Tsonga 29,922 3.28
- Swazi 7,720 0.85
- Venda 17,603 1.93
- Ndebele 45,192 4.95
- Other 68,185 7.47
The diversity of ethnic groups in South Africa in general has resulted in 11 official languages, with the majority of South Africans being able to communicate in more than one language.
Despite the fact that English is the lingua franca of business, commerce, and government, it is only the fourth most spoken language in the United States. Depending on which region of the country you are in, the languages that you will hear the most are as follows:
It is common to hear South African English spoken in a variety of accents, and it is often peppered with words from Afrikaans and other African languages. When the British colonized the Cape Colony in 1822, they made it official language by declaring it the official language of the country. As a result of the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, English was designated as the official language, alongside Dutch, which was later replaced by Afrikaans in the following year.
Schoolchildren are required to learn English as well as Afrikaans or another African language as a compulsory language. Despite this, only 9.6 percent of the population, or five million people, speak it as their first language (according to the 2011 census). It is in South Africa’s major metropolitan areas — Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape — that the majority of English speakers can be found.
Originally spoken by colonizers in the Cape in the 17th century, Afrikaans is a West Germanic language that descended from Dutch. It was originally referred to as Cape Dutch, with proper Dutch serving as the formal written language of the country. Today, Afrikaans is the third most spoken language in South Africa, with nearly seven million people speaking it at any given point in time. Western Cape and Northern Cape residents are primarily fluent in this language.
Languages spoken by the Nguni
The African languages spoken in South Africa are descended from two language families, namely the Nguni and the Sotho-Tswana. There are four Nguni languages that are widely spoken in South Africa: isiZulu, isiXhosa, isiNdebele, and siSwati. All of these languages are tonal, and they are all spoken in the country.
The Zulu language, spoken by nearly 23% of the population, or 11.6 million people, is the most widely spoken language in South Africa. In South Africa, the Zulu people, who derive their name from a major clan that originated in KwaZulu-Natal, speak it as their official language. The Zulu people are the country’s largest ethnic group and make up the country’s largest ethnic group.
When compared to other Nguni languages, the use of click consonants distinguishes Zulu as one of the most distinctive features of the language. In KwaZulu-Natal, nearly 80 percent of Zulu speakers live; the remaining 20 percent are spread out over Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
Given that they are both members of the same language family, Zulu and Xhosa can be understood by each other. He is one of the most well-known Zulus, having played a key role in the rise of the Zulu Empire in 19th-century South Africa. He is also known as the warrior king Shaka Zulu.
It isiXhosa — Xhosa is the second most spoken language in South Africa, with an estimated eight million native speakers. The Eastern Cape, where the Xhosa ethnic group originated, and the Western Cape are home to the vast majority of Xhosa speakers. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are two of the most well-known Xhosa individuals.
IsiNdebele is a Ndebele language spoken by a small minority (2 percent) of the South African population, with the majority of speakers concentrated in the province of Mpumalanga (South Africa). Zimbabwe is home to a different dialect of the language. Known for their vibrant homesteads and beadwork, the Ndebele people are primarily found in the northern hemisphere and are a distinct ethnic group.
Singular: siSwati (Swati) is the primary language of Swaziland, a sovereign state within the borders of South Africa that speaks the Swati language. Ndebele and Swati are both minority languages that are restricted to eastern Mpumalanga, where they are spoken by fewer than 1.3 million people, similar to Ndebele.
Languages of the Sotho-Tswana
A misnomer in the South African Constitution is the use of the term “Sepedi” to refer to the Northern Sotho people of the country’s Sesotho sa Leboa (Northern Sotho).
However, Sepedi is actually one of several dialects that fall under the umbrella term of Northern Sotho, which, after English, is the fifth most widely spoken language in the country. Limpopo is the province where it is spoken the most, followed by Mpumalanga and Gauteng, and then Namibia.
A small landlocked kingdom in South Africa with a population of a million people, Sesotho (also known as Southern Sotho) is their official language. South Africans speak Sesotho, which is spoken by 3.8 million people, with more than 60% of speakers residing in the Free State, which borders Lesotho.
Besides the province of Gauteng, the language is also spoken in the province of the North West. As a mutually intelligible dialect of Northern Sotho, Sesotho is considered to be one of the first African languages to be written down.
It is mutually intelligible with the other Sotho languages and is used as Botswana’s lingua franca. Setswana (also known as Tswana) More than half of the country’s four million native speakers live in the North West (which borders Botswana), where it is spoken by the majority of the country’s four million inhabitants.
Tswana is also spoken in the Northern Cape, the Free State, Gauteng, and the Limpopo provinces of South Africa. Sol Plaatje, a South African writer and politician who was a founding member of the African National Congress, was one of the most well-known Tswana speakers in history (ANC).
Situated in southern Africa, Tsonga language is spoken by the Tsonga people, who are originally from South Africa but now live in countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland as well as other parts of the world. Tonga and Tswa languages were combined by Swiss missionaries in Limpopo in 1875 to form the official language of the country.
Tsonga is also a tonal language, but it contains only a small number of words that contain the click consonants found in Nguni languages. At the moment, the language is spoken by 2.3 million South Africans, the majority of whom live in Limpopo, but it is also heard in Mpumalanga and the North Western Provinces.
Among the Venda people, who live in the northern Limpopo province, Venda is their official language. Additionally, the Lemba people of Zimbabwe, who live on the border with Limpopo, speak it in their native language.
Known as the Tonal Language of Zimbabwe, Venda is a tonal language that does not contain any clicks. It is related to the Kalanga language spoken in Botswana and Zimbabwe. Only 2.4 percent of the population speaks it, making it a minority language (1.2 million people).
siSwati — Swati, also known as Swazi, is the primary language of Swaziland, which is an independent country located within South Africa’s borders. Swati, like Ndebele, is a minority language that is only spoken in eastern Mpumalanga and is spoken by a little more than 1.3 million people.
Languages of the Sotho-Tswana People
South African Constitution erroneously refers to the Sesotho sa Leboa (Northern Sotho) as Sepedi, despite the fact that it is referred to as Sepedi in the Constitution. Sepedi is actually one of several dialects that are classified as Northern Sotho, which is the fifth most spoken language in South Africa after English and is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world. Limpopo is the province where it is spoken the most, followed by Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
A small landlocked kingdom in South Africa with a population of a million people, Sesotho — Soto (also known as Southern Sotho) is the official language of Lesotho. There are approximately 3.8 million speakers of Sesotho in South Africa, with more than 60% of speakers residing in the Free State, a province that shares a border with Lesotho.
The language is also spoken in the provinces of Gauteng and the Northern Cape. Sesotho is a mutually intelligible dialect of Northern Sotho, and it was one of the first African languages to be written down in a formalized manner.
Setswana — Tswana is the lingua franca of Botswana and is mutually intelligible with the other Sotho languages. More than half of the country’s four million native speakers live in the North West (which borders Botswana), where it is spoken by the majority of the country’s four million inhabitants.
Tswana is also spoken in the Northern Cape, the Free State, Gauteng, and Limpopo provinces, among other places. Sol Plaatje, a South African writer and politician who was one of the founding members of the African National Congress, was one of the most well-known Tswana speakers of his generation (ANC).
It is the official language of the Tsonga people of southern Africa and is spoken in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland. Tsonga is the language of the Tsonga people of southern Africa. Tonga and Tswa languages were combined by Swiss missionaries in Limpopo in 1875, resulting in the official creation of the language.
Tsonga is also a tonal language, but it contains only a small number of words that contain the click consonants found in Nguni languages. As of 2010, 2.3 million South Africans spoke the language. The majority of them resided in the province of Limpopo, but it can also be heard in Mpumalanga and the North West.