|Griqua, Korana, !Ora, Kora|
|Native to||South Africa, Namibia|
"Khoemana" (from khoe 'person' + mana 'language') is more commonly known as either Korana // (also !Orakobab, !Ora, Kora, Koraqua) or Griqua (also Gri [xri], Xri, Xiri, Xirikwa). The name 'Korana' reflects the endonym ǃOra IPA: [ǃoɾa] or !Gora IPA: [gǃoɾa], referring to the !Ora people. Sometimes !Ora is also known as Cape Khoe or Cape Hottentot, though the latter has become derogatory. The various names are often treated as different languages (called South Khoekhoe when taken together), but they do not correspond to any actual dialect distinctions, and speakers may use "Korana" and "Griqua" interchangeably. Both names are also used more broadly, for example for the Griqua people. There exist (or existed) several dialects of Khoemana, but the details are unknown.
Khoemana is closely related to Khoekhoe, and the sound systems are broadly similar. The strongly aspirated Khoekhoe affricates are simply aspirated plosives [tʰ, kʰ] in Khoemana. However, Khoemana has an ejective velar affricate, /kxʼʔ/, which is not found in Khoekhoe, and a corresponding series of clicks, /ǀ͡xʼ ǁ͡xʼ ǃ͡xʼ ǂ͡xʼ/. Beach (1938) reported that the Khoekhoe of the time had a velar lateral ejective affricate, [k͡ʟ̝̊ʼ], a common realisation or allophone of /kxʼ/ in languages with clicks, and it might be expected that this is true for Khoemana as well. In addition, about half of all lexical words in Khoemana began with a click, compared to a quarter in Khoekhoe.
|Close||i ĩ||u ũ|
In Korana, [oe] and [oa] can be pronounced as [we] and [wa].
|plain (velar stop)||ǀ(k)||!(k)||ǁ(k)||ǂ(k)|
There are four tones in Khoemana:
Reports as to the number of Khoemana speakers are contradictory, but it is clear that it is nearly extinct. It was thought to be extinct until the discovery of four elderly speakers around Bloemfontein and Kimberley. A 2009 report by Don Killian of the University of Helsinki estimated that there were less than 30 speakers at the time. Matthias Brenzinger reported in 2012 that one possible speaker remained, but that she refused to speak the language. The discrepancies could be because the language has multiple dialects and goes by several names, with scholars not always referring to the same population. Khoemana is listed as "critically endangered" in UNESCO's Language Atlas. The loss of this endangered language would have a significant impact on the heritage and culture of Khoemana speakers.
Robust Khoemana (before more recent language attrition) is principally recorded in an 1879 notebook by Lucy Lloyd, which contains five short stories; some additional work was done in Ponelis (1975). As of 2009, the EuroBABEL project is searching for remaining speakers.
The people and their language first began to attract scholarly attention in the 1660s, coinciding with Dutch colonial efforts in the Cape of Good Hope and the resulting armed conflicts. At the time, Khoemana was widely spoken throughout the coastal regions of South Africa. After years of attrition during the colonial era to the 1930s, and under apartheid from 1948 to 1994, the language has all but vanished. Currently, speakers of Khoemana are not only scarce but scattered, due to forced migrations during the apartheid era. This has rendered the language particularly vulnerable.