Date: Wed, 8 Oct 1997 10:00:25 EDT


Subject: Xhosa

Sorry to bother dialecticians with this, but I have no other immediate

source. Do any of you know if (and how long) Xnghossa (South african

"click" language that I may have misspelled) has a writing system of the

language. how are the clicks "written"? thanks.

The language in question is Xhosa (more formally, isiXhosa), and the X there

is the representation of one of the three positions in which clicks occur,

the lateral one. Besides the laterals, there are retroflex or palatal (or

"domal") clicks, represented as Q, and dental/alveolar clicks, represented as

C. Any of these can be "voiced" (the voicing is phonetically realized by its

effect on the adjacent vowel tone; in fact I think a voiced click per se is

physically impossible), or nasalized (represented with an N before the click

letter), or aspirated (represented with an H after the click letter, as in the

name of the language). Sister languages in the southern Bantu group that have

clicks are Zulu and Ndebele. The true "click languages", though, are from an

unrelated family, Khoisan (the one spoken in the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy"

which may or may not help), e.g. (in the Western naming tradition) Bushman and

Hottentot. It is these languages from which the southern Bantu ones borrowed

their clicks, and in the Khoisan languages I understand they're much more

prevalent. (Sorry I can't answer your question about how long Xhosa has been