Southern Bantu languages

Southern Bantu
South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique
Linguistic classification:


Glottolog: sout3180[1]

The Southern Bantu languages are a large group of Bantu languages, largely validated in Janson (1991/92).[2] They are nearly synonymous with Guthrie's Bantu zone S, apart from the exclusion of Shona and the inclusion of Makua. They include all of the important Bantu languages of South Africa, Botswana, and Mozambique.


Language groups are followed by their code in the Guthrie classification.

* Official languages

Some classifications prior to Janson retained Shona as a coordinate branch, along with Nyasa, or excluded Makua.

Writing System

A writing system exists for Southern Bantu languages called Isibheqe Sohlamvu or Ditema tsa Dinoko.[3] It is a featural system arranged into syllable blocks and has a geometric appearance based on the traditional symbolic design forms of the region, such as are to be found in Sesotho litema, or IsiZulu amabheqe.[4]

"Isibheqe Sohlamvu" written in the writing system of that name
"Ditema tsa Dinoko" written in the writing system of that name.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Southern Bantu Makuao". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Tore Janson (1991-92) "Southern Bantu and Makua", Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika (SUGIA) Vol. 12/13: 63-106, Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Cologne
  3. "IsiBheqe". 2015-08-23. Retrieved 2015-08-28.
  4. "Isibheqe Sohlamvu: An Indigenous Writing System for Southern Bantu Languages" (PDF). 2015-06-22. Retrieved 2015-08-28.

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