Wilfrid Haacke, formerly professor at the University of Namibia

The course will begin with an introduction to the extinct and extant languages of the Khoe language family and will clarify the meaning of classificatory terms such as ‘Khoesan’, ‘Khoe’ and ‘San’. The lecture will discuss the earlier geographic distribution of major Khoe groups like the ‘Korana’ and the ‘Grikwa’ through southern Africa and their subsequent migrations to avoid contact with the colonisers. The second lecture will demonstrate, through reference to historical documents, that the so-called ‘Nama’ language has reverted to its original name, ‘Khoekhoegowab’. The third lecture will illustrate how linguistic evidence can be used to investigate and understand Khoe pre-literary history and will discuss the influence of the Khoekhoe language on other languages spoken in Africa.



  1. The demise of Khoekhoe languages in southern Africa
  2. The obsolescence and revival of the language name Khoekhoegowab
  3. Linguistic evidence in the study of Khoekhoe origins


Recommended reading

Güldemann, T. & A.-M. Fehn (eds) Beyond ‘Khoisan’: Historical relations in the Kalahari Basin. Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 330. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Haacke, W. 2011    Nama als Sprachbenennung in der Koloniallinguistik Deutsch-Südwestafrikas: zwischen Endonym and Exonym.  in Stolz, Th., Chr. Vossmann & B. Dewein (eds) Kolonialzeitliche Sprachforschung: Die Beschreibung afrikanischer und ozeanischer Sprachen zur Zeit der deutschen Kolonialherrschaft. Berlin: Akademie, p.139-160.

Haacke, W. 2018    Khoekhoegowab (Nama/Damara), in Kamusella, T. & F. Ndhlovu  The Social & Political History of Southern Africa's Languages. Palgrave Macmillan, p.133-158.

Vossen, R. (ed.) 2013. The Khoesan Languages. London & New York: Routledge.



Date: Monday 6–Wednesday 8 January
Time: 3.00 pm
COURSE FEES: Full R354 Staff & Students R177
Venue: LT3 Kramer Law Building UCT