|Spoken in||Namibia, Botswana|
|Region||near border with Angola|
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.|
Juǀʼhoan (also called Zhuǀʼhõasi, Dzuǀʼoasi, Zû-ǀhoa, JuǀʼHoansi) is a Khoisan language spoken in the Northwest District of Botswana by about 5,000 people (as of 2002) and by perhaps a comparable number across the border in Namibia. It is a cluster of eastern dialects of the Ju dialect continuum that includes ǃKung (ǃXũũ) and ǂKxʼauǁʼein. It is part of a Southern dialect cluster of the Ju languages according to Snyman (1997). Four varieties are distinguished: Epukiro, Tsumkwe, Rundu, and Omatako.
Juǀʼhoan has four tones.
There are five vowel qualities, /i e a o u/. However, these may be nasalized, glottalized, murmured, or combinations of these, and most of these possibilities occur both long and short. The qualities /a/ and /o/ may also be pharyngealized and strident. Thus, there are a good 30 vowel phonemes, perhaps more, depending on one's analysis. There are, in addition, many vowel sequences and diphthongs.
Juǀʼhoan has an unusually large number of consonants, as seen below, including clicks and clusters with mixed voicing. Phonemes in parentheses are only found in loan words. For brevity, only the alveolar clicks are listed with the other consonants; the complete set of clicks is found below.
|Nasal||voiced||m||n ~ ŋ||ŋǃ|
The phonemic status of [dz] and [dʒ] is uncertain. There are also consonant clusters involving a velar fricative: [tx], [d͡tx], [tkxʼ], [tsx], [d͡tsx], [tʃx], [d͡tʃx].
Juǀʼhoan has 48 click sounds. Given the intricate clusters seen in the non-click consonants, it is not surprising that many of the Juǀʼhoan clicks should be analyzed as clusters. However, while some are clearly simplex or complex, there is debate over some with intermediate complexity.
There are four click releases: dental, lateral, alveolar, and palatal. (Some Ju dialects have laminal vs apical lateral click releases, but Juǀʼhoan is not among them.) There are twelve accompaniments, all of which are velar. These are perfectly normal consonants in Juǀʼhoan, and indeed are preferred over non-clicks in word-initial position.
|affricated clicks||'sharp' clicks||accompaniment|
|dental clicks||lateral clicks||alveolar clicks||palatal clicks|
|ŋ̊ǀʰ||ŋ̊ǁʰ||ŋ̊ǃʰ||ŋ̊ǂʰ||Voiceless nasal with delayed aspiration|
|kǀˣʼ||kǁˣʼ||kǃˣʼ||kǂˣʼ||Affricated ejective (perhaps /kǃ/+/kˣʼ/)|
|ɡǀkˣʼ||ɡǁkˣʼ||ɡǃkˣʼ||ɡǂkˣʼ||Voiced plosive followed by affricated ejective|
|kǀˀ||kǁˀ||kǃˀ||kǂˀ||Voiceless plosive followed by glottal stop|
|ŋŋ̊ǀʰ||ŋŋ̊ǁʰ||ŋŋ̊ǃʰ||ŋŋ̊ǂʰ||Voiced nasal followed by voiceless aspirated nasal|
|ɡǀh||ɡǁh||ɡǃh||ɡǂh||Voiced plosive followed by aspiration (perhaps /ɡǃ/+/h/ or /ɡ/+/kǃʰ/)|
Some analyses treat the first seven accompaniments as simplex, and the last five as clusters. The [ɡǃˠ] appears to correspond to the complex [ɡǃkˣ] in other languages, but there is no evidence of a second stop in Juǀʼhoan; indeed, the element following the click release varies from a voiceless fricative [x] to a voiced fricative [ɣ] to an approximant [ɰ]. In ejective clicks like [kǃˣʼ], the front articulation of the click is released first, and the glottalic mechanism for the ejective is only made when the back articulation is released. They are considered complex for the simple reason that ejectives and clicks involve two distinct airstream mechanisms made in sequence, rather as [d͡tsʰ] and [d͡tʃʼ] involve a change in phonation or airstream mechanism partway through.
In the 1960s the South African Department of Education set about establishing official orthographies for the languages of Southwest Africa (Namibia). Jan Snyman was selected to develop an orthography for the then-unwritten Juǀʼhoasi, which was accepted in 1969. In this orthography, the name of the language is spelled Žuǀʼhõasi. A slightly modified form (Snyman 1975) is shown below.
In the 1980s the Bible Society of South Africa requested a new orthography, one which used only letters of the Latin alphabet, avoided diacritics as much as possible, and conformed as much as possible to the conventions of Afrikaans. This second orthography was accepted in 1987, in which the language is spelled Zjuc'hôa.
A third orthography was developed by the Ju|wa Bushman Development Foundation in 1994. The three are compared with the IPA below. Tone is evidently unmarked:
|[a, ə]||a||a, e|
|Pressed nasal vowels|
The 1994 orthography also has ih, eh, ah, oh, uh for breathy (murmured) vowels, and ihn, ahn, ohn, uhn for breathy nasal vowels. However, Snyman maintains that these are positional variants of low-tone vowels, and not needed in an orthography.
One of the clicks (*) is not attested.