Languages of Africa

The traditional language families spoken in Africa:


The languages of Africa are divided into six major language families:

There are several other small families and language isolates, as well as languages that have yet to be classified. In addition, Africa has a wide variety of sign languages, many of which are language isolates (see below).

The total number of languages natively spoken in Africa is variously estimated (depending on the delineation of language vs. dialect) at between 1,250 and 2,100, and by some counts at “over 3,000”, Nigeria alone has over 500 languages (according to the count of SIL Ethnologue), one of the greatest concentrations of linguistic diversity in the world. However, “One of the notable differences between Africa and most other linguistic areas is its relative uniformity. With few exceptions, all of Africa’s languages have been gathered into four major phyla.”

Around a hundred languages are widely used for inter-ethnic communication. Arabic, Somali, Berber, Amharic, Oromo, Igbo, Swahili, Hausa, Manding, Fulani and Yoruba are spoken by tens of millions of people. Twelve dialect clusters (which may group up to a hundred linguistic varieties) are spoken by 75 percent, and fifteen by 85 percent, of Africans as a first or additional language. Although many mid-sized languages are used on the radio, in newspapers and in primary-school education, and some of the larger ones are considered national languages, only a few are official at the national level. The African Union declared 2006 the “Year of African Languages”.


  1. tonytran2015 · April 4, 2018

    Valuable documents

    Liked by 1 person

    • vikinglifeblog · April 4, 2018

      Thanks. Information about Arabs and Africans doing rape and murder is important, but also boring and depressing. I try to post other things, that might have some relationship to the general problems and that can supports other posts. I have one more post about African language, that this post will be linked to.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tonytran2015 · April 4, 2018

        Yes, I have the same tendency of looking at the bigger settings to understand the issues at hand.

        It is interesting to me that Australian aboriginal language is spoken by Polynesians, Jap. Ainu, Taiwanese natives, Vietnamese highlanders, Madagascan, etc..

        Liked by 1 person

    • vikinglifeblog · April 4, 2018

      We properly have to, in most cases. There are usually no easy answers or simple explanations, to complex matters.
      Considering that Germanic people, speak Germanic languages and have Germanic cultures, Austronesian speakers are very diverse. Vietnamese highlanders dont look like Australian aboriginals at all.


      • tonytran2015 · April 4, 2018

        Something I never expect:

        Some Indonesians like going to Vietnam because they can talk and understand Vietnamese highlanders and Champa people.

        But later I found that the same kind of Champa buildings, monuments exist in both countries.

        Liked by 1 person

    • vikinglifeblog · April 4, 2018

      Interesting, and very impressive buildings. Its funny they can speak together, but I dont understand Icelandic. It can sometimes even be hard to understand Swedish.

      Liked by 1 person

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