|Native to||South Africa, Namibia, Angola|
Ekoka !Kung (Ekoka !Xuun, Ekoka-!Xû, !Kung-Ekoka) or Western !Xuun (North-Central Ju) is a variety of the !Kung dialect cluster, spoken originally in the area of the central Namibian–Angolan border, west of the Okavango River, but since the Angolan Civil War also in South Africa.
Heine & Honken (2010) place Ekoka in the Northern–Western branch of ǃXuun (ǃKung), where Ekoka is equivalent to the Western branch. They distinguish three varieties:
Sands et al. place it in its own branch, which they call North-Central Ju:
Tsintsabis might actually be Central !Kung.
Ekoka ǃKung has a similar sound system to Juǀʼhoansi. However, the series of palatal clicks, /ǂ/ etc, have a fricated lateral release (see fricated alveolar clicks). These are provisionally transcribed ⟨ǃ͡s⟩ or ⟨⨎⟩, etc., and behave similarly to palatal (rather than alveolar) clicks in terms of not following the back-vowel constraint.
In addition to the twelve 'accompaniments' of clicks in Juǀʼhoansi, Ekoka has preglottalized nasal clicks, such as /ʔᵑǃ/. These are not common cross-linguistically, but are also found in Taa and ǂHoan.
König & Heine (2001) report the following inventory, with the clicks as analyzed by Miller (2011). One of the click series, called 'fortis' in König & Heine, is only attested at two places of articulation; it is not clear which this corresponds to in the table below. There are also prenasalized /mb, nd, ŋɡ/ in Bantu loans.
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Phonemic contrasts in Ekoka include:
Linguistically, ǃKung is generally termed isolating, meaning that words' meanings are changed by the addition of other, separate words, rather than by the addition of affixes or the changing of word structure. A few suffixes exist - for example, distributive plurals are formed with the noun suffix -si or -mhi, but in the main meaning is given only by series of words rather than by grouping of affixes.
ǃKung distinguishes no formal plural, and the suffixes -si and -mhi are optional in usage. The language's word order is adverb–subject–verb–object, and in this it is similar to English: "the snake bites the man" is represented by ǂʼaama nǃei zhu (ǂʼaama - snake, nǃei - to bite, zhu - man). ǃKung-ekoka uses word and sentence tone contours, and has a very finely differentiated vocabulary for the animals, plants and conditions native to the Kalahari Desert, where the language is spoken. For example, the plant genus Grewia is referred to by five different words, representing five different species in this genus.