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Central !Kung (Central !Xuun), or Central Ju, is a recently[when?] distinguished variety of the !Kung dialect cluster, spoken in a small area of northern Namibia: Neitsas, in Grootfontein district, and Gaub, in Tsumeb district. It is frequently reported as Grootfontein !Xuun, as most work has been done in Grootfontein. A possibly identifying feature of Central !Kung is a distinct series of retroflex clicks. While Northern (Northwestern) and Southern (Southeastern) !Kung are not mutually intelligible, it is not yet clear to what extent Central !Kung is intermediate between them or intelligible with either.
Two dialects are identified as being Central !Kung based on grammatical features:
In addition, the Tsintsabis, Leeunes and Mangetti (different from Mangetti Dune) dialects of !Kung have retroflex clicks and so may belong here, though no grammatical information is available to classify them.
Grootfontein !Kung is unusual in having true retroflex clicks, which are subapical for some speakers and have lateral release, as in the word for 'water', [‼̬ˡú] (provisionally written g‼ú). There are thus five places of articulation in Grootfontein clicks, /ǃ ǀ ǁ ǂ ‼/. These come in eight series, here represented with the retroflex articulation:
Otherwise, the Grootfontein inventory is similar to that of Ekoka !Kung, except that it lacks the (pre)voiced affricates dχ, dʒ, dʒʼ, dʃχʼ.
The Grootfontein !Kung language has a relatively large phonological inventory:
|Plain + /χ/||tχ||tʃχ|
|Plain + /χʼ/||kχʼ|
|Plain + /χ/||ǀχ||!χ||‼χ||ǂχ||ǁχ|
|Plain + /χʼ/||ǀχʼ||!χʼ||‼χʼ||ǂχʼ||ǁχʼ|
|Voiced + /χʼ/||ᶢǀχʼ||ᶢ!χʼ||ᶢ‼χʼ||ᶢǂχʼ||ᶢǁχʼ|
Five vowel sounds in the !Kung languages are realized as [i e a o u]. The sounds may be articulated with nasalisation [ĩ ẽ ã õ ũ], breathy voice [iʱ eʱ aʱ oʱ uʱ], or pharyngealisation [iˤ eˤ aˤ oˤ uˤ]. Some nasal vowels with diacritics may have combinations such as breathy + nasal [ãʱ õʱ], and pharyngeal + nasal [ãˤ õˤ ũˤ].
Following are sample sentences in Central !Kung.