Xhosa: Hamba kakuhle!

Well, that was interesting.

Xhosa, in all respects, is just as cool as its name. And perhaps more tangled than some of the other languages I’ve seen. While I was able to master a few of the “clicks” that the language is known for, it almost felt like I was only touching the surface of something really specialized.

SUMMARY: Xhosa is a Bantu language that has been spoken in South Africa for thousands of years. It is closely related to Zulu, the most spoken African language in the country, although Xhosa is more widespread. The language was affected in part by the settlements of the Dutch and English, who forced the native Xhosa people to resettle in some parts of the country. An alphabet was developed in the mid-1800s and books were first printed in Xhosa from that point onward. The language is tonal, agglutinative and has 18 distinct “clicking” sounds.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS: Agh, the clicks, the clicks! I was not able to pronounce the other 15 sounds (the click consonants + vowels) and I’m still impressed by how native speakers say them so effortlessly. But there were some other things that I didn’t fancy as I’ll talk about below in my video.


Intelligibility: 2
Complexity: 1
Resonance: 2
Continuation: 2

COMING NEXT: Portuguese

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