DATA DAY | Official Languages in Gauteng Suburbs – 2011

 In Data Day

The dominance of certain official languages in Gauteng suburbs shows an interesting picture when one removes English from the analysis of 2011 Census Data – see map

A pattern emerges of distinct regional groupings, with some spatial variety in and around the former township areas of the province.

In the Gauteng periphery, dominant languages appear to correlate with provincial language prevalence:

  • Tswana in the west (leading into North West Province)
  • Ndebele in the east (leading into Mpumalanga)
  • Pedi in the north (leading into Limpopo)
  • Sotho in the south (leading into the Free State)
  • Zulu in the south east (leading into KwaZulu Natal)

Afrikaans is most widely spoken in the centrally located urban areas along the primary North-South (Vereeniging >JHB>PTA) and East-West (East Rand>West Rand) axes of the Gauteng City Region.

Zulu is the most widely spoken language in the periphery of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni metropoles, while Pedi and Tswana dominate in the periphery of Tshwane.

Xhosa – the prevalent language of the Eastern Cape – is most widely spoken in pockets located along the East-West axis of the Gauteng City Region; an axis largely defined by the mining belt of the Witwatersrand gold reef. This phenomenon may broadly correlate to settlement trends and/or legacies of Xhosa migrant mine workers in Gauteng.

The data paints a picture of Gauteng as a language crossroad between provinces of the Highveld plateau.

As expected, the data also identifies with legacies of an embedded apartheid spatial geography; where former homelands, townships and group areas are clearly distinguishable.

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