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Related to Khoisan: Khoisan language, San people


see African languagesAfrican languages,
geographic rather than linguistic classification of languages spoken on the African continent. Historically the term refers to the languages of sub-Saharan Africa, which do not belong to a single family, but are divided among several distinct linguistic stocks.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(from khoi-khoi-n, self-designation of the Hottentots, and san, their name for the Bushmen), a term introduced in the early 20th century by the English ethnographer I. Schapera, in particular to describe the languages of the indigenous population of South Africa, the Bushmen and Hottentots. Subsequent research into the languages of the Bushmen has shown that they differ sharply from those of the Hottentots (according to the structure of the language as a whole). The American linguist J. H. Greenberg has continued to combine them under the name “Khoisan languages” on the basis of lexical parallels; however, regular sound correspondences have not been found, and their relationship, as well as the name “Khoisan languages,” remains debatable.


Schapera, I. The Khoisan Peoples of South Africa. London, 1930.
Westphal, E. O. I. “The Non-Bantu Languages of Southern Africa.” In A. N. Tucker and M. A. Bryan, The Non-Bantu Languages of North-Eastern Africa: Supplement, vol. 3. Oxford, 1956.
Westphal, E. O. I. “On Classifying Bushman and Hottentot Languages.” In African Language Studies, vol. 3. London, 1962.
Westphal, E. O. I. “A Re-classification of Southern African Non-Bantu Languages.” Journal of African Languages, 1962, vol. 1.
Greenberg, J. H. Languages of Africa. The Hague, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The present section, however, is restricted to the language that is the focus of discussion in the present paper, namely the Khoisan language !Xun.
(1992) Hunters and Herders of Southern Africa: a comparative ethnography of the Khoisan peoples.
The SAC population is an admixed group made up of 5 source populations (African Khoisan, African Bantu, European, South Asian, and East Asian) dating back to slavery and the early settlers.
Firstly, some brief discussion on the term "Khoisan." Khoisan (first recorded as "Koi'san") is the name by which the lighter skinned indigenous peoples of Southern Africa, the Khoi (Hottentots) and the San (Bushmen), are known.
Community 1 is a township where the residents are predominantly of the mixed-race group officially defined by the apartheid state as colored (that is, having some Khoisan ancestry; Dinan, McCall, & Gibson, 2004).
This paper places her location in South Africa among the hunting and gathering Khoisan people.
Christopher Low provides another example, examining how Europeans appropriated and transformed buchu (used by the Khoisan people of southern Africa), while often failing to understand indigenous perspectives on this medicinal plant.
With regard to the bantu languages of southern Africa, it has long been recognised that the click consonants are not reflexes of inherited elements; rather, the clicks were 'borrowed' from Khoisan contact languages and incorporated within bantu phonological systems at some point during the prehistory of southern Africa (Herbert, 1990:296).
'Duba' is the Khoisan word for the eland, which also features prominently in San bushman culture.
While invoking a range of plays, I compare Getting Mother's Body (hereafter GMB) primarily to Venus (1996), Parks's controversial exploration of Saartjie Baartman, the Khoisan woman from southern Africa with a large posterior who was sold to freak shows and displayed in 1810's London and Paris as "the Venus Hottentot." (1) Upon her death, she was dissected by anatomist Georges Cuvier, with her remains exhibited in a French museum until the 1970s.