ǁXegwi language

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Region South Africa
Ethnicity Tlou-tle
Extinct 1988, with the death of Jopi Mabinda[1]
  • ǃKwi
    • ǁXegwi
Language codes
ISO 639-3 xeg
Glottolog xegw1238[2]
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ǁXegwi, also known as Batwa, is an extinct ǃKwi language spoken at Lake Chrissie in South Africa, near the Swazi border. The last known speaker, Jopi Mabinda, was murdered in 1988.[3] However, a reporter for the South African newspaper Mail & Guardian reports that ǁXegwi may still be spoken in the Chrissiesmeer district.[4]

The ǁXegwi name for their language has been spelled giǁkwi:gwi or kiǁkwi:gwi. Their name for themselves has been transcribed tlou tle or kxlou-kxle, presumably [kouke]. The Nguni (Zulu and Swazi) called them (a)batwa, amaNkqeshe, amaNgqwigqwi; the Sotho called them Baroa/Barwa.[5]


ǁXegwi lost the abrupt clicks (the various manners of ǂ and ǃ) found in its relatives. It reacquired ǃ from Nguni Bantu languages, but clicks remained relatively infrequent, compared to other Tuu languages. It also had a series of uvular plosives not found in other Tuu languages.[6]

Pulmonic consonants Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
central lateral central lateral
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiced b d ɟ ɡ ɢ
tenuis t k q ʔ
aspirated kʰ
Affricate voiceless ts
kx kʟ̝̊
voiced dz
Fricative voiceless s ɬ ʃ x h
voiced β z ɮ ɦ
Sonorant r l j w
Glottalic consonants Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular
central lateral
Plosive kʷʼ
Affricate tsʼ tʃʼ kxʼ kʟ̝̊ʼ
Lingual consonants Labial Dental Alveolar
central lateral
Nasal modal ᵑʘ ᵑǀ ᵑǃ ᵑǁ
glottalized ǀˀ ǁˀ
murmured ᵑǀʱ ᵑǁʱ
Plosive voiced ᶢǀ ᶢǃ ᶢǁ
tenuis ʘ ǀ ǃ ǁ
Affricate ʘx ǀx ǃx ǁx


  1. ^ ǁXegwi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "//Xegwi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Traill, A. "The Khoesan languages", in Mesthrie, Rajend Language in South Africa, Cambridge U.P., 2004
  4. ^ http://mg.co.za/article/2011-06-24-the-secret-pool-of-surviving-bushmen-at-chrissiesmeer
  5. ^ Yvonne Treis, 1998, "Names of Khoisan Languages and their Variants"
  6. ^ Anthony Traill, 1999. Extinct South African Khoisan Languages.

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