Khoisan language – The strange language of clicks


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In the Kalahari region in central Namibia in Africa, there are people who speak an almost extinct language, characterized by their constant clicks called Khoisan. The name Khoisan is the unification of two ethnic groups in southwest Africa. Both share physical and linguistic characteristics.

Khoisan is one of the rare languages ​​that use clicks. Other languages ​​like Bantu, Cushtic and Damin in rare cases usually use a click. The clicks are articulated in the mouth by a suction mechanism that produces a sharp or flat sound between the tongue and the roof of the mouth.

Khoisan and derivative languages ​​usually use 4 different click tones. Some southern languages ​​use a fifth that looks like a kiss. Clicks are written with the characters ǃ and ǂ which are versatile to operate consonants. The language has more than 48 consonants, being one of the languages ​​with the largest number of consonants in the world.

Clicks are used extensively in the vocabulary of Khoisan languages ​​and are the initial sounds in approximately 70% of words. This provides a dramatic effect on the delivery of the speech.

Khoisan language families

The Khoisan language group does not belong to other African language families. They belong to villages in the region that soon spread across southern and eastern Africa. Variations appeared in Botswana and Tanzania.

There is a wide range of Khoisan languages ​​that is difficult to understand. This language is completely extinct, with little information on it on the internet. In addition to the clicks, this language is also quite weird, with words that seem to end in a strange way.

Below you can see a table showing some words in different languages ​​of the Khoisan family:

 PortugueseSandaweHadzaKhoeJu ! Xóõ
Person'| nomeseonlykhoeʒúok
Man'| nomeseɬemek'ákhoehôáso there
Kid'|| noόwa'a| ūáladyʘàa
Ear'kekeɦatʃ'pitʃ'iǂée| húíǂnùhã
Eye'| gweéákhwaǂxái| gà'á! 'ûĩ
Ostrich'sa'útàkénàngu| gasdsùúqje
Giraffe'ts'ámasuts'ókwàna! nabeǂoah|| qhūũ
Buffalo '| menák'óma|| àò| qhái
Hear'ké'é|| ná'ekumts'à'áok


Videos showing click languages


Jehovah's Witnesses from Africa reported on visiting the San people to preach in their own language. If you want to see a comment from a native in high quality, in the 5:30 minutes of the video you will find a San speaking. We can understand words more than clicks, so you have a different view of the language.


There are several extinct languages ​​in Africa that use clicks, so it is difficult to tell which is which. I hope you enjoyed the article. What did you think of these click languages? We look forward to your comment and sharing.

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