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map_khoeid_ui-tuu_kx-a_previewIn southern and eastern Africa, there must have been more than 100 distinct languages characterized by original click systems even a few hundred years ago. The twelve languages shown on the present map are the last still spoken today. No proof supporting claims for a common ancestry of the “Khoisan” languages, as proposed by Joseph Greenberg in 1963 seems possible, at least not as present. Standard methodologies applied in linguistic reconstructions do not yield meaningful results, most likely because time depths in which the present languages might have diverged from each other are too deep. Another reason for not being able to reconstruct the evolution of today’s Khoisan languages is the many missing links in the possible genealogical trees, as most Khoisan languages have vanished without documentation.

Khoeid, however, is an exception in that in 1997, Rainer Voßen successfully applied the comparative-historical method to establish this genealogical unit which includes Naro, Khwe-ǁAni, the Shua-Tshwa cluster, ǁGana-ǀGui and Khoekhoe. In addition two further language families have been proposed, namely Kx’a consisting of the two languages, !Xun and ǂHoan, as well as the !Ui-Tuu family which consists of two surviving members, i.e. Taa and Nǁng (latter made up by the Nǀuu and ǁ’Au varieties).

All previous language maps exaggerate the settlement areas of present-day speakers of Kx’a, Khoeid and !Ui-Tuu languages, and they are shown as the predominant inhabitants of southern Africa while in fact, millions of people speaking isiZulu, isiXhosa, SeSotho, Setswana, Afrikaans and English currently inhabit these regions. Similarly, the numbers given for speakers of these languages by scholars are generally far too high.

The map is based on 20 years of research in the field by the author and draws heavily on the results gained from recent research findings shared by leading expert scholars. For the list of contributing scholars, please refer to the sidebar.

Metadata:

  • Alternative names !Xóõ, Tâa
  • Classification: Tuu
  • ISO 639-3 code: nmn
  • VARIANTS & DIALECTS:
    • Kakia
    • Xatia
    • Nusan
    • Ng|u||en
    • Auni
    • Ng|u|en
    • !Kwi

Contributors:

  • Akira Takada
  • Alena Witzlack-Makarevich
  • Amanda Miller
  • Andy Chebanne
  • Anne-Maria Fehn
  • Bernd Heine
  • Bonny Sands
  • Brian M. Wood
  • Christa König
  • Chris Collins
  • Christfried Naumann
  • Coby & Hessel Visser
  • Daniel Hunziker
  • Falko Berthold
  • Frank Marlowe
  • Gertrud Boden
  • Helen Eaton
  • Herman Batibo
  • Hirosi Nakagawa
  • Imogene Lim
  • Junko Maruyama
  • Kirk Miller
  • Kofi Ayisa
  • Linda Gerlach
  • Martina Ernszt
  • Roland Kießling
  • Tom Güldemann
  • Wilfrid Haacke