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a group of closely related languages, the most representative of which are Southern Sotho, the official language of Lesotho, and Northern Sotho, which is spoken in Transvaal Province in the Republic of South Africa. Speakers of Sotho number approximately 4 million (1967, estimate).

Sotho belongs to the southeastern zone of the Bantu languages. With the exception of a, vowels are characterized by an open/closed opposition; they constitute a nine-member system. The consonant system is characterized by the presence of three click sounds and a well-developed system of fricatives. There are 13 agreement classes with monosyllabic prefixes. Rudiments of locative prefixes are found in the pronouns. The verb abounds in derivative suffixes. A literature exists in Sotho and newspapers are published in the language.


Paroz, R. A. Elements of Southern Sotho, 2nd ed. Morija, 1959.
Ziervogel, D. Noordsotho-leerboek. Pretoria, 1949.
Doke, C. M. The Southern Bantu Languages. London-New York, 1954.
Mabille, A., and H. Dieterlen. Southern-Sotho-English Dictionary. Morija, 1950.
References in periodicals archive ?
For instance, the government could not justify the incorporation as a means of uniting the Ndebele minority in Moutse with their brothers in Kwa-Ndebele without, at the same time, violating the rights of the North Sotho majority in Moutse to remain in South Africa or to join their homeland of Lebowa.
Marriage, isolation and fear reinforce the exclusion and marginalisation of the Ngunis from a common identity with the Basotho of Sotho descent.
However, the author's dialogue on humanistic values and national identity appears to be challenged by the reality of internal social conflicts such as the divide between the Basotho of Sotho and Nguni descent, the literate and the non-literate, Christians and heathens.