Date: Wed, 8 Oct 1997 10:00:25 EDT From: Larry Horn 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 written.) --Larry