About Setswana

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Setswana (also known as Tswana) is a widely spoken language in Southern Africa with around 5 million L1 speakers and almost 8 million L2 speakers. It is one of the official languages of Botswana and is spoken interchangeably with English. South Africa has the bulk of L1 Setswana speakers at around 4 million. There are also a small number of Setswana speakers in Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Lesotho. 
Setswana belongs to the bantu language group and Sotho-Tswana family. It is closely related to the Sotho languages, such as Southern Sesotho, which are primarily spoken in South Africa and Lesotho. In fact, the Southern Sotho google translate is the closest you will get to using google translate for Setswana. Northern Sotho is also primarily spoken in South Africa. Tswana is sometimes (wrongly) referred to as ‘Western Sotho’.
Setswana is broken down into dialects which are differentiated by various regions of Botswana, for example. Standard Setswana is based on the Sehurutshe dialect and is nearly identical to it. Other dialects include Tlahaping (Thlaping, Tlapi), Rolong, Kwena, Kgatla, Ngwatu (Ngwato), Tawana, Lete, Ngwaketse, and Tlokwa. It is unclear which dialect is spoken where in Botswana. Setswana is said to be used more for spoken purposes than written, which English is likely used for in Botswana. 


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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.