The Click Language Echo from the Mother Tongue

The Dutch settlers who first arrived in southern Africa in 1652 found the country inhabited by two groups of click language speakers—cattle herders, whom they called Hottentots, and foraging peoples whom they referred to as either bushmen or San, a Hottentot word for "original settlers." The Hottentots called themselves Khoi-Khoi but are now known as Khwe. From these two words, Khoi and San, is derived the word Khoisan, which is used to describe the linguistic family of click languages.

The southern San of the Cape were largely driven to extinction by the Dutch settlers. Anthropologists have studied the northern San, who live in a large area from southern Angola to Botswana that includes the Kalahari desert. Until the 1970s, when settlement became widespread, many of the San lived as hunters and gatherers, one of the few remaining peoples to follow this ancient way of life. The main language of the northern San is !Kung, a name that seems to have been invented by German missionaries and means "they" in the Angola !Kung 70

dialect. These northern San are often referred to as the !Kung or the !Kung San. The "!" represents one of the many click sounds in their language.

To add to the confusion, anthropologists have recently started to refer to the !Kung San by their name for themselves, the Ju| 'hoansi, which means "the Real People." The Real People's name for both Europeans and non-San Africans is !ohm, a category that includes predators and other inedible beasts.

The in Juj'hoansi designates one of the click sounds that are used as extra consonants in click languages. There are 5 kinds of click made by sucking air in, and a larger number made by expelling it. The "|" is an in-coming dental click, made by sucking the tongue in smartly from the upper front teeth, like the "tsk, tsk" sound used to indicate disapproval to children. The sound systems of Khoisan are said to be among the

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