Background and status
Sesotho, or Southern Sotho, is part of the Sotho language subgroup within the South-Eastern group of the Ntu (Bantu) language family. Being one of the 11 official South African languages, Sesotho is spoken by almost 4 million people in South African, and is concentrated in the Free State province, the northern part of the Eastern Cape province and the southern part of the Gauteng province. Very small language communities also exist in Namibia and Zambia.
In the Kingdom of Lesotho, Sesotho is one of the two official languages (the other being English) and is spoken by more than 85% of its inhabitants. Lesotho enjoys one of Africa’s highest literacy rates with 59% of the adult population being literate chiefly in Sotho. Except for small lexical variation within Lesotho and that of the large urban townships to the north (e.g. Soweto) due to heavy borrowing from neighbouring languages, there is no discernible dialect variation in the Lesotho and Free State versions of the language. The most striking properties of Sotho grammar, and the most important properties which reveal it as a Bantu language, are its noun gender and concord systems. The grammatical gender system does not encode sex gender, and indeed, Bantu languages in general are not grammatically marked for gender.
Sotho has developed a sizeable media presence since the end of apartheid. Radio Lesedi is a 24-hour Sesotho radio station run by the SABC, broadcasting solely in Sotho.
The opportunity (and need) for Sesotho is immense, which is because the Pan South African Language Board and the Department for Arts and Culture, as well as the national and provincial language boards for Sesotho, promote the language. We at Language Inc also offer services for the translation from and into Sesotho.