06 June 2004

Sesotho's /kh/ or /kg/

Sesotho has quite a few "hard" sounds. One of them is /kh/ or /kg/, same sound but as written in Lesotho and in South Africa respectively. It is the sound in khotso (kgotso), peace, or in khutla (kgutla), come back -- everything's normal and is as it should be. Why, then, do we have another representation of the sound in South African Sesotho, making a total of three representations? Why do they write gold gauta, not kgauta, Gauteng (the place of gold), not Kgauteng, but an argument kgang, not gang? In Lesotho, gold is written khauta. The /kh/, /kg/ or /g/ sound is the same as the /ch/ in achtung, or in lochness, the /kh/ in khomeini, the /g/ in geld or Vereeniging.

Here are a few /kh/ or /kg/ words:
Khaba (spoon)
Khalase (glass -- borrowed word -- glas)
Mokhibo (women's Sotho dance)
Khauta (gold)
Khomo (cow)
Khemere (ginger -- borrowed word -- gemmer)
Lekhotla (court, tribunal)
Akhente (barrister -- borrowed word -- agent)

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