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Ethnologue ISO-639-1 -
ISO-639-3 tsn
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tn-N This user has a native understanding of Setswana.
tn-5 This user has professional knowledge of Setswana.
tn-4 This user has near native speaker knowledge of Setswana.
tn-3 This user has advanced knowledge of Setswana.
tn-2 This user has intermediate knowledge of Setswana.
tn-1 This user has basic knowledge of Setswana.
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Setswana is one of the official languages of South Africa, and is a national language in Botswana. There are 3,677,016 (8.2 %) first language speakers [2001 census data] in South Africa, an estimated 1,070,000 speakers in Botswana, and an estimated 30,000 speakers in Namibia.

Setswana is most closely related to two other languages in the Sotho language group, Sesotho (Southern Sotho) and Sesotho sa Leboa (Northern Sotho).

The 2001 South African census estimates the number of Setswana speakers to be 3,677,010. At 8% of the population, Setswana speakers make up the fifth largest language group in South Africa. In South Africa most of the speakers of this language are situated in the North West province, which borders Botswana. There are also significant numbers of speakers in the Northern Cape and Free State provinces. This summary explores the linguistic derivation of the language, the history of written codification and dialectal variation, and recent attempts to standardize the language in South Africa.


  • Language: Setswana
  • Word: Bophirima
  • English Version: West
  • Description: to, toward, or in the west; one of the four cardinal points of the compass, 270° clockwise from north and 180° from east
  • URL:

  • Language: Setswana
  • Word: Boboko
  • English Version: brain
  • Description: Boboko means “Brain” the organ inside the head that controls thought, memory, feelings and activity
  • URL:

See also[edit]

Lefatshe la Botswana/Republic of Botswana - Republic of Namibia

Further reading[edit]

  • Bilingo is an exciting new South African dictionary. Suitable for school, home and work, this valuable online resource offers a unique opportunity for anyone to broaden their vocabulary and to learn about South Africa's languages.