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(also Chuana, Western Sotho), a language of the Sotho group of the southeastern Bantu languages. According to a 1970 estimate, Tswana is spoken in Lesotho, as well as in the western Transvaal and in northern Cape Province in the Republic of South Africa, by more than 1 million people.

The system of 9 vowels in Tswana exhibits the opposition open-closed in the phonemes [I], [e], [o], and [u]. Consonants include voiced and voiceless alveolar fricatives and affricates. Clicks, which occur only in ideophones, form a peripheral phonetic subsystem. Nasalization, palatalization, and alveolarization of consonants occur at morpheme boundaries.

Nouns are arranged in 18 categories, or noun classes, that form a system of concordances; there are two special classes made up of proper names, kinship terms, and totemic animals, and locative classes, which are weakly expressed in the other languages of the Sotho group. Classes are marked by monosyllabic prefixes. Verbs are conjugated by means of affixes; the diminutive aspect is formed by full reduplication of the verbal root.

The lexicon of Tswana abounds in ideophones. Sentences observe the following pattern: subject-predicate-object.


Crisp, W. Notes Towards a Secoana Grammar, 3rd ed. London, 1900.
Cole, D. T. An Introduction to Tswana Grammar. London-New York, 1955.
Brown, J. T. Secwana Dictionary. London, 1954.


References in periodicals archive ?
The above cultural factors surrounding African Motswana women complicate their lives, especially the choices available to married women.
But if we want to end the sacrifice of human lives, we can step outside the cretinising framework of the present state system, free our vision from its cramping limits, and liberate our minds to think for ourselves, not as Gambians, Sudanese or Motswana, not as Kenyans, Angolans or Mauritanians, not as Burkinabe, Zambians, Ghanaians or South Africans, but as Africans.
Comrade Fish: Memories of a Motswana in the ANC Underground.
A Motswana colleague recounted a chance encounter in Canada where a stranger, upon learning what country she was from, offered her congratulations on the Miss Universe win.
Our neighbouring country Botswana was cited as an example of a poor country that has found the political will to tackle the many challenges presented by Aids and has begun to provide treatment to all Motswana who need it.