African Languages

Spectrum Translation has extensive experience with Afrikaans, the Dutch-based language of South Africa and Namibia.  We provide services for this language as well as several other sub-Saharan languages such as Zulu, Xhosa, Sesotho and Northern Sotho.

We have experience with the following sub-Saharan African languages:  Afrikaans, Igbo, Swahili, Sesotho, Northern Sotho (or Sepedi), Xhosa and Zulu.

Among the Afro-Asiatic languages of North Africa, we have translated texts into Arabic for Egypt and Morocco.

Some Language Notes

Here is an overview of some of these languages:

Igbo: With 20 million speakers, this is the language of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria.  Igbo is a tonal language with two distinctive tones, high and low.  In some cases a third, downstepped high tone is recognized.

Igbo has an extremely limited number of adjectives—just eight: ukwu ‘big’ and nta ‘small’; oji ‘dark’ and cha ‘light’; hr ‘new’ and ochie ‘old’; ma ‘good’ and jọọ ‘bad’.

Swahili: The Bantu language with the largest total number of speakers is Swahili.  The vast majority of speakers know it as a second language, with the number of true native speakers being estimated at around two million.  Another 100 million non-native speakers use it as a lingua franca in East Africa, mainly in Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sesotho: This language of southern Africa has around 5 million speakers, with a good number of these in Lesotho, where it is, with English, one of two official languages and the native language of 85% of the population.  It is also known as Southern Sotho.

Northern Sotho: This northern variant of the Sotho language has more than 4 million speakers and is commonly referred to as Pedi or Sepedi, the name of its major variety.  It is a major language of the provinces of Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Xhosa: Spoken by around 8 million people in South Africa, where it is the language of 18% of the population.  Like the majority of Bantu languages, Xhosa is a tonal language, so that the same sequence of consonants and vowels can have different meanings when said with a rising or falling or high or low intonation.  One of the most distinctive features of the language is the prominence of click consonants; the word Xhosa itself begins with a click.

Zulu: The most widely spoken home language in South Africa (24% of the population), Zulu is understood by over 50% of the South African population.  It belongs to the southeastern group of Bantu languages and possesses several click sounds common to that language family.

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* The national flower of South Africa is the King Protea (Protea cynaroides).