Four wordlists of extinct Cape Khoekhoe from the 18th century


  • Francois-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar


Khoekhoe, Nama, Cape Khoekhoe


The Khoekhoe language, a member of the Khoisan family, was widely spoken by Southern Africa pastoralists and hunters-gatherers a few centuries ago. Apart from varieties still spoken in the 20th century (such as Nama in Namibia), very little is known of the dialect spoken by the Cape Khoekhoe. This paper is a critical edition of four manuscript wordlists collected at the end of the 18th century by Robert Jacob Gordon, then commandant of the Dutch garrison at the Cape. These lists refer to several local varieties ofthe Cape Khoekhoe language, collected just before it became extinct, and display two distinct systems of clicks rendering.