There are eleven official languages of South Africa: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Fewer than two percent of South Africans speak a first language other than an official one. Most South Africans can speak more than one language. Dutch and English were the first official languages of South Africa from 1910 to 1925. Afrikaans was added as a part of Dutch in 1925, although in practice, Afrikaans effectively replaced Dutch, which fell into disuse. When South Africa became a republic in 1961 the official relationship changed such that Afrikaans was considered to include Dutch, and Dutch was dropped in 1984, so between 1984 and 1994, South Africa had two official languages: English and Afrikaans.
Different government departments and official bodies use different terms to denote Northern Sotho. In South Africa, Southern Ndebele is known simply as Ndebele, as most speakers of Northern Ndebele live in Zimbabwe.
Since taking power in the 1994 election, the ANC has promoted English as the main language of government, even if South Africans often take pride in using indigenous languages for any purpose. Afrikaans also features prominently in commerce together with English as the languages with the highest number of fluent speakers are Afrikaans and English.
In terms of linguistic classification, the official languages include two West Germanic languages (English and Afrikaans) and nine Bantu languages. Four of these are Nguni languages (Zulu, Xhosa, Swati and Ndebele) and three are Sotho–Tswana languages (Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho and Tswana). Tsonga is a Tswa–Ronga language.
South African Sign Language is understood across the country, though sometimes sign-language interpreters use manually coded language.
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