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Juu languages: Wikis


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Northern Khoisan (obsolete)
Angola, Namibia, and Botswana
Central Ju

The Juu languages (also spelled Ju, Zhu, or Dzu), also known as the ǃKung languages (also spelled Kung, , Xun, ǃXun, ǃXo, ǃKhung, ǃXung, ǃung, or ǃXũũ), are a dialect continuum spoken in Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. The form a language family together with the ǂHõã language. They constitute one of the branches of a putative Khoisan language family, and are called Northern Khoisan in that scenario, but the unity of Khoisan has never been demonstrated and is suspected to be spurious. Nonetheless, the term "Khoisan" is widely retained as more familiar than "Juu" and the other families that make it up.

The better-known Juu dialects are ǃʼOǃKung, Tsumkwe Juǀʼhoan, and ǂKxʼauǁʼein. Linguistically they form four clusters:

  • Northern: Southern Angola, around the Cunene, Cubango, Cuito, and Cuando rivers, but with many refugees now in Namibia: ǃʼOǃKung, Maligo),
  • North-Central: Namibia, between the Ovambo River and the Angolan border, around the tributaries of the Okavango River east of Rundu to the Etosha Pan: Tsintsabis, Okongo, Ovambo, Mpunguvlei, Ekoka AKA |Akhwe.
  • Central: The area around Grootfontein, Namibia, west of the central Omatako River and south of the Ovambo River; and
  • Southeastern: Botswana east of the Okavango Delta, and northeast Namibia from near Windhoek to Rundu, Gobabis, and the Caprivi Strip: Tsumkwe, Omatako, Kameeldoring, Epukiro.

ǂKxʼauǁʼein is too poorly attested to assign a place within this classification; if it belongs to one of these four groups, it is presumably Southeastern.

The Juu languages are famous for having large numbers of clicks, and they have some of the most complex inventories of both consonants and vowels in the world. They also have tone. For a description, see Juǀʼhoan.

The ancestral language, Proto-Juu, had five places of click articulation: Dental, alveolar, palatal, alveolar lateral, and retroflex. The retroflex clicks have dropped out of Southeastern dialects such as Juǀʼhoan, but remain Central Juu. In some Northern and North-Central dialects they appear as an additional lateral click, so that these dialects contrast between dental and alveolar or palatal and alveolar lateral clicks.

ǃ Proto-Juu ǃ SE (Tsumkwe) ǃ N (Okongo) ǃ N (Mangetti Dune) ǃ C (Neitsas/Nurugas)

*ǃ 'belly' *ǃ˞ 'water'
ɡǃű ɡǃű
ɡǃű ɡǁű
ɡǃű ɡǁ̪ű
ɡǃú ɡǃ˞ú

Ju is related to ǂHõã. This connection was only recently proposed and is currently under investigation; it appears that the relationship is at about the distance of the two branches of the Tuu family. Juu-ǂHõã in turn has many features in common with the Tuu languages, but this is generally believed to be due to the effects of a language area.



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