The Northern Sotho language, also known as Sesotho sa Leboa and often confused by its standardized dialect known as Sepedi or Pedi, is a language of the Bantu family. It is closely related to such languages as Sesotho (also known as Southern Sotho), Setswana, sheKgalagari, and siLozi. The Northern Sotho is considered to be one of 11 official languages of South Africa.
Primary, the Northern Sotho language is used exactly in South Africa. There are about 4.5 million people who speak it as their first language. Mainly, these people can be found in the provinces of Limpopo, Gauteng, and Mpumalanga.
The Northern Sotho language has several distinctive dialects. They are Lobedu (also Khilovedu or Selobedu) and Sepulana (also sePulane).
The Lobedu dialect is spoken by people known as Balobedu. It is worth to mention that the dialect exists only in a spoken form, so when it comes to writing, the standard Northern Sotho language and orthography is used.
The Sepulana dialect, the same to the Lobedu dialect, exists in unwritten form. It is spoken by the Mapulana people who live in Bushbuckridge area.
The Northern Sotho language also has some other dialects, such as kheLobedu ( also known as khiLobedu or seLobedu), seTlokwa, seBirwa, sePulana, seKhutswe, seTswapo, SePai, and Sebididi.
As the Northern Sotho written language was based largely on Sepedi, the languages are often confused. So it is important to know that while the name “Sepedi” refers specifically to the language of the Pedi people, the “Northern Sotho” refers to the official language of that name.