• Kemmonye C. Monaka
  • Andy Chebanne


Tjhetswapong (or Tjhegwapong, Chegwapong) is also known as Setswapong in Botswana. It is a Sotho-Tswana language classified as S30, Southern Bantu. Tjhetswapong is spoken by approximately 5000 people in the north-eastern part of Botswana in the Tswapong area. It is related to and mutually intelligible with Sepedi and is thought to have been an offshoot of Proto-Sepedi in the fifteenth century. Tjhetswapong retains some of the ancient phonological features of Sotho-Tswana, and like Tjhebirwa, it has closer affinities to Sepedi than to Setswana. It is highly mutually intelligible with Tjhebirwa and to lesser extent with Shekgalagari, with Sengwato variant of Setswana and with Sepedi. Since the encroachment of and the domination by the Bangwato in the seventeenth century, Tjhetswapong has been under heavy influence from Setswana. Further, the Botswana language policy which favours Setswana and English in all official domains creates acute endangerment of the language. However, Batswapong are eager to revitalize and document it together with Tjhetswapong culture. To this end, Batswapong people have formed and registered Lentswe la Batswapong cultural group to spearhead the development and preservation of the language and celebration of the culture. Tjhetswapong orthography has since been developed and a number of cultural festivals have been celebrated. The development of Tjhetswapong orthography has facilitated translation of important documents into the language, the production of various other works such as funeral and cultural festival programmes in Tjhetswapong and informal communications between native speakers, among other things.


Tjhetswapong Botswana Marginalized language Endangered language Orthography development Language revitalization 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kemmonye C. Monaka
    • 1
  • Andy Chebanne
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of BotswanaGaboroneBotswana
  2. 2.University of BotswanaGaboroneBotswana

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