The national and official language of Lesotho is Sesotho. Following the Lesotho’s independence in 1966, Sesotho was chosen and officially recognized as the national and official language of the country. Sesotho is a southern Bantu language spoken by the Basotho. It belongs to the Niger-Congo family of languages. The Sesotho language uses Latin Script in writing. The alphabet of Sesotho has 39 consonants, 9 of which are vowels.

Sesotho is the first language to approximately 90% of the inhabitants of Lesotho. There are approximately 5 million Sesotho speakers, with a large number of them residing in Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. In fact, a large number of people in Lesotho are monolingual. Sesotho is used as an instructional language in lower primary school. English comes in upper primary school or in secondary school.

The sound system of Sesotho is different from many other languages. To build up words, just like many Bantu languages, Sesotho uses affixes to complete words. The sound of the languages contains numerous click sounds, ejective consonants, and uvular trill. Sesotho has a lot of loanwords. The words are borrowed to enrich the vocabulary and to cater for lack of vocabulary. Words are mostly borrowed from other Bantu languages. In most instances, after borrowing, the affixes are added to the words. This ensures that the words fit into the Sesotho language model.

Besides Sesotho, English is also recognized as an official language of Lesotho. English is mainly used for official, media and government communication, unlike Sesotho which is widely used in casual engagement and in day-to-day communication. Other minority languages spoken in the country include Zulu, Afrikaans, Xhosa, and Phuthi. The speakers of the minority languages are mostly immigrants into the country. Most speakers of the minority languages are also conversant with the Sesotho language

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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