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Xhosa language

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Native toSouth Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho
RegionEastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Free State
EthnicityXhosa people
Native speakers8.2 million  (2011 census)e18
11 million L2 speakers (2002)[1]
Language family
Writing systemLatin (Xhosa alphabet)
Xhosa Braille
Official status
Official language in South Africa
Language codes
ISO 639-1xh
ISO 639-2xho
ISO 639-3xho
Guthrie codeS.41[2]
Linguasphere99-AUT-fa incl.
varieties 99-AUT-faa
to 99-AUT-faj +
99-AUT-fb (isiHlubi)
South Africa 2011 Xhosa speakers proportion map.svg
Proportion of the South African population that speaks Xhosa at home

     0–20%      20–40%




Xhosa is one of the official languages of South Africa. Xhosa is spoken by 7.6 million people, or about 18% of the South African population. Xhosa is written using a Latin alphabet. Henry Hare Dugmore helped translate the entire Bible in Xhosa language. Xhosa has ten vowels.

Xhosa is well known for its set of three major clicks.


  1. Webb, Vic. 2002. "Language in South Africa: the role of language in national transformation, reconstruction and development." Impact: Studies in language and society, 14:78
  2. Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online