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Venda language information

Native to
  • South Africa and Zimbabwe
  • Mozambique
EthnicityVenda people
Native speakers
1.3 million (2011 census)[1]
1.7 million L2 speakers in South Africa (2002)[2]
Language family
  • Atlantic–Congo
    • Volta-Congo
      • Benue–Congo
        • Bantoid
          • Southern Bantoid
            • Bantu
              • Southern Bantu
                • TshiVenda
  • Guvhu
  • Ilafuri
  • Lembetu
  • Manda
  • Mbedzi
  • Phani
  • Tavha-Tsindi
Writing system
Latin (Venda alphabet)
Venda Braille
Ditema tsa Dinoko
Signed forms
Signed Venda
Official status
Official language in
Venda language South Africa
Venda language Zimbabwe
Language codes
ISO 639-1ve
ISO 639-2ven
ISO 639-3ven
Guthrie code
S.20 (S.21)[3]
Linguasphere99-AUT-b incl. varieties
99-AUT-baa to 99-AUT-bad
Geographical distribution of Tshivenda in South Africa: proportion of the population that speaks Tshivenda at home.
Geographical distribution of Tshivenda in South Africa: density of Tshivenda home-language speakers.
  <1 /km²
  1–3 /km²
  3–10 /km²
  10–30 /km²
  30–100 /km²
  100–300 /km²
  300–1000 /km²
  1000–3000 /km²
  >3000 /km²
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Venḓa or Tshivenḓa is a Bantu language and an official language of South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is mainly spoken by the Venda people or Vhavenḓa in the northern part of South Africa's Limpopo province, as well as by some Lemba people in South Africa. The Tshivenda language is related to the Kalanga language which is spoken in Southern Africa. During the apartheid era of South Africa, the bantustan of Venda was set up to cover the Venda speakers of South Africa.

According to the 2011 census, Venda speakers are concentrated in the following areas: Makhado Local Municipality, with 350,000 people; Thulamela Local Municipality, with 370,000 people; Musina Local Municipality, with 35,000 people; and Mutale Local Municipality, with 89,000 people. The total number of speakers in Vhembe district currently stands at 844,000. In Gauteng province, there are 275,000 Venda speakers. Fewer than 10,000 are spread across the rest of the country — for a total number of Venda speakers in South Africa at 1.2 million people or just 2.2% of South Africa's population, making Venda speakers the second smallest minority language in South Africa, after the Ndebele language, which number 1.1 million speakers. The population statistics of the Venda people in Zimbabwe are not clear but may currently stand at less than half a million. The people are concentrated in the South of the country but also spread to other towns and cities. There is also a significant number of them in neighbouring South Africa where they are migrant workers.

  1. ^ TshiVenda at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Webb, Vic. 2002. "Language in South Africa: the role of language in national transformation, reconstruction and development." Impact: Studies in language and society, 14:78
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online

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