SA’s Official Languages: Xitsonga / Tsonga

In continuation of our focus on the eleven official languages of South Africa, we’ll focus on Tsonga, or Xitsonga.

Xitsonga is one of South Africa’s official languages and is spoken by the Tsonga people.

Tsonga is spoken by 2 277 148 people in South Africa – about 4.5% of the population, and stems from the Bantu language group, specifically the Niger-Congo branch.

Tsonga is spoken in the Limpopo region of South Africa, as well as Gauteng and Mpumalanga.


Tsonga belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger–Congo languages. The language of the Tsonga people is wrongly called Xichangana (or “Shangaan” by outsiders) because some of the people were under the leadership of Soshangana “Manukusa” (wrongly classified as Zulu but actually Ndwandwe (Nguni/Ngoni), thus Xichangana is a hybrid of Xitsonga and the language of the Ndwandwe (Nguni/Ngoni)).

Tsonga has different variants, some of which are considered different languages by some linguists: e.g. Tsonga, Ndawu, Ronga and Tswa.

Months of the Year – Tsonga

January – Sunguti
February – Nyenyanyana
March – Nyenyankulu
April – Dzivamisoko
May – Mudyaxihi
June – Khotavuxika
July – Mawuwani
August – Mhawuri
September – Ndzati
October – Nhlangula
November – Hukuri
December – N’wendzamhala

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *