Which African languages are the most widely spoken?

What is the most popular language group in the east and central part of Africa? What language macro-families exist on the territory of the country? Read the article to learn all these facts about African culture.

For the last 100 years, the map of Africa has undergone essential changes. A set of independent states has appeared on it. Therefore, it is still rather difficult to learn African languages. However, it is possible to say that territory of African continent has the states with many nationalities. That’s why it includes African American languages, African click language, Arabian and many others. But which one is the most popular?

For the beginning, it is necessary to allocate the main African groups. In the first group, it is possible to include such countries as Somalia, Egypt, Lesotho, etc., and to the second – Cameroon, Chad, Kenya and other. In Somalia, for example, nearly hundred percent of the population are Somalis on a nationality, more precisely – 98.3%. But in Lesotho 99.7% of the population are representatives of the people Suto. The greatest number of inhabitants of the African continent speaks on numerous dialects of the Arab language. In this regard, it is considered that Islam in Africa is the most widespread of the main religions of the world. In northern regions, Islam dominates in general. Also it has a great influence in the Western Africa, especially in Côte d'Ivoire. Distribution of this religion was promoted by Persian and Arab merchants, travelling in the continent from the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt. Many researchers of languages of Africa came to conclusion that conditionally they can be united in several macro families. The most popular were Semito-Hamitic and Niger-Karfadan macro families.

African languages

By the end of the 1960th years conceded a little in percentage terms, then practically in twenty years, more than a half of the population of Africa spoke languages of this family. The most significant language of the African continent today is Swahili. This language of interethnic communication is widespread on the territory of Central and East Africa. Swahili has gained state recognition in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania now. But it is quite widely used also in Zambia, on the Comoro Islands, Rwanda, etc. We will note that Swahili is the only African language having status of working language in the countries of the African union. This language is recognized as native by nearly 5 million persons. About 60-70 million use it as the second. On Greenberg's classification, Swahili belongs to Niger-Congolese macro family. From the middle of 19 century, this language uses Latin graphics, which was entered here by European missionaries. The modern culture of Africa is under a great influence of Islam. It isn't surprising that on this continent, Arab language is widespread. It is official practically in all countries of North Africa, and in the regions located slightly to the south of Egypt it is one of official. Also their following languages are widespread in the African countries:

  • Berber,
  • Hausa,
  • Yoruba,
  • Oromo,
  • Zulu, etc.

African click language

READ ALSO: Second child in Igbo culture: what’s so important about them?

Aboriginals of northern regions of Africa are Berbers. They have accepted Islam in 7th century AD and have the group of related languages with the same name. Some sub regions of Africa (for example, the country of Morocco and Algeria) have tens of millions of inhabitants speaking on kinds of Berber. By the way, according to modern data, residents of these countries actively migrate to Israel and France, basing the numerous communities talking in Berber languages there. In such countries as Cameroon, Ghana, Niger, etc. a great number of the inhabitants speaking house language lives. This language also is interethnic and is widespread among Muslims. According to data on 2000, about 30 million inhabitants of Africa speak it. But Hausa gained the greatest distribution in Nigeria. More than 18.5 million inhabitants speak it. In 19 century, Hausa accepts modified Arab alphabet called Adjani. But in 1930th it has passed on Latin with some changes. Inhabitants of southwest regions of Nigeria talk in Yoruba language. At research of this language, it was supposed to carry it to Benue-Congolese family, but after classification of similar adverbs and languages, it was reconsidered. Yoruba is included in a group of Niger languages nowadays.

Somalia and Ethiopia use Oromo as a state language. It received its name from the group of the people of the same name inhabiting this region of the continent. Until recently, given language is called Galla, but now it has only one above-stated name. Citizens of the Republic of South Africa (about 10 million people) consider Zulu as the first language. At the same time, nearly a half of the population is able to understand this language, but uses it quite seldom. Swati, Kosa and northern Ndbela are considered as closely related ones. In the Republic of South Africa, about 35 million people in total can speak Zulu. Besides this language, there are 10 more in the country. For example, Africaans, which earlier was called Boer. However, it is more widespread in Namibia. This language is considered German or one of Netherlands dialects. It is the native language of 6 million residents of Namibia.

Your comment
Add image

By posting your comment, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.