More correctly Sesotho, one of South Africa
's eleven official language
s along with Sepedi, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans
. Sometimes called Southern Sotho to distinguish it from Sepedi or Northern Sotho. It is spoken by just under three million people in South Africa
, especially in the provinces of the Free State
, and by half that number again in the independent state of Lesotho
Sesotho was one of the first African languages to be written -- a complete Bible translation was produced in 1878 -- and has an extensive literature. A Sesotho scripture in Braille is underway.
The Sesotho Virtual Resource Network is online at www.zyworld.com/fezekile/sesotho/, for those who'd like to see what the written language looks like; and the Sesotho greeting that went out with Voyager ("We greet you, o great ones") can be heard at vraptor.jpl.nasa.gov/voyager/languages/sotho.html.
Some basic words and phrases:
Hello (good day): Dumela (singular) or Dumelang (plural).
How are you?: O kae?
I'm fine, and you?: Ke teng, wena o kae?
Go well (departing greeting to the person or people leaving): Tsamaya Hantle (singular) or Tsamayang Hantle (plural)
Stay well (departing greeting to those staying): Sala Hantle (singular) or Salang Hantle (plural)
Thank you: Ke a leboha (singular) or Re a leboha (plural)
Please: Ka kopo hle
Peace: Kgosto (singular) or Kgotsong (plural).
email: Lekwalo e motlakase
Note the importance of proper inflection according to whether you're addressing a single person as opposed to two or more: Sesotho has this in common with other Bantu languages like Zulu, Xhosa or even Swahili.
The word "Sotho" is pronounced something like "sootoo", although the vowel sounds are more clipped; the "th" is harder than the English.