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washington, d.c.
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This feels like a stupid question, but here goes. I'm trying to figure out what language (other than English or any other Western European language) would be useful/respectful to learn a few words of for travel all around Namibia. I understand 50% of the country is of Bantu origin and speak a Bantu language, but there are still many distinct languages among Bantu people, and then there is the array of the other, non-Bantu languages that comprise the other 50%. We will be travelling a circuit, so will be in many areas of the country. Any suggestions for what language to learn a bit of? thanks.

Stanley, Falkland...
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1. Re: language

The different tribes have different languages (it seems to me). So, Herero, Ovambo, Nama, San, Himba, etc.

But not all the tribes get on, and although they are fairly easy to tell apart most of the time, it may be counter-productive to use the "wrong" language with someone.

There have been studies done, and questions asked in the census (which I would recommend you investigate), as to what language people speak...at work.... and at home, etc.

I think only 3% speak English at home, yet it is the official language. Afrikaans is widely understood.

Not sure if this is any help, but I think you are better sticking to English! :-)

Swakopmund, Namibia
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2. Re: language

We have 11 different ethnic tribes in Namibia, all speaking their own language, or dialect of a language. This does not include the "European" people ... German, Afrikaans, Portuguese, English and Italian.

English is the official language but I would say that at this stage, Afrikaans is the most widely spoken language. I have seen where people from different tribes, who cannot speak each other's language, will converse in Afrikaans. This is changing quite quickly since English became the official language and all government schools teach in English. An Owambo guy who worked with me could speak 5 different languages, however, he could not understand one word in English!

If you do want to learn a few words in a different language, Afrikaans might be the best. But please note that the Himba people, nor the Caprivians understand Afrikaans.

Danie Steyn - Namibia Tours & Safaris

Stanley, Falkland...
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3. Re: language

What Danie says reflects my experience as a tourist.

Our guide could communicate with Himba, however, mainly by pidgin English, and the conversation revolved round gifts such as sugar, flour . Both sides were understood, despite not speaking the other's language.

Baltimore, Maryland
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for Washington DC
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4. Re: language

The Ovambo people are the main tribe but mostly in the north. Here is a greeting in Oshivambo

Walalalapo- Hello

Ehhhh- response

Nawa- How are you

Ehhh- response

5. Re: language

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