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Project Members

  • Falko Berthold
  • Linda Gerlach

Documentation of N!aqriaxe with a focus on contact influence

The purpose of this project was to document the highly endangered language N!aqriaxe. It is spoken in the Kalahari region in southern Botswana in the Kweneng district. The 40 speakers of the language are still found in the villages of Motokwe, Khekhenye, Tswaane, Dutlwe and probably some others. Like other minority languages (especially those of Khoisan origin) in Botswana, and elsewhere in southern Africa, this language is in danger of becoming extinct; most N!aqriaxe-speakers are older than 50 years and do not pass their language on to the younger members of the community. While in South Africa the relevant languages are largely extinct already, in other regions the vast majority of the surviving languages are endangered or even moribund, and the process of language shift in the remaining speech communities is well underway (Batibo & Tsonope 2000).

The language under investigation belongs to the ǂ’Amkoe family. Lexical similarities to its neighbouring languages East ǃXoon (East Taa, Tuu family) and Gǀui (Western Kalahari branch of the Khoe family) point towards an ancient contact situation which also had effects on the morphosyntax of the languages. Furthermore, N!aqriaxe was classified as being related to these above-named languages on a macro-level in the so-called Khoisan family (Greenberg 1963). A close examination of shared features might rule out genealogical relation on a macro-level and rather allude to possible areality due to language contact.


Batibo, Herman M. and Joe Tsonope (eds). 2000. The state of Khoesan Language Studies in Botswana. Gaborone: University of Botswana.

Greenberg, Joseph H. 1963. The languages of Africa. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University.