Arabic Hausa Swahili
Akan Amharic Fulfulde/Pulaar
Igbo Ganda Mende/Bandi/Loki
Chewa/Nyanja Kikuyu Kpelle
Krio/Pidgin Lingala Oromo
Shona Somali Tigrinya
Wolof Xhosa/Zulu/Swazi/Ndebele Yoruba
Bemba Malagasy Ruanda/Rundi
Temne Tsonga  

Arabic

1 CLASSIFICATION AND WHERE SPOKEN

Arabic is a Semitic language within Afro-Asiatic usually associated with the Middle East but also very prominent in Africa. It is found not only in the northern third of Africa, where it is generally the de jure national language, but also throughout the entire continent via its daily use in Islamic life as well as a medium of instruction in Islamic schools.

2 NUMBER OF SPEAKERS

There are at least 100 million first-language speakers of Arabic.

3 USAGE

In addition to what was said under Classification, we note that Arabic also serves as a lingua franca in much of Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, Arabic is heard in government radio broadcasts in Chad; on Radio Garoua (Cameroon); on Radiodiffusion-Television de Djibouti; on Voice of the Revolution (radio), Ethiopia; on Radiodiffusion-Television de Guinee-Conakry; on Radio-Television Malagasy; on Radio Nationale de la Republique Islamique de Mauritanie; on La Voix du Sahel (radio), Niger; on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria broadcasts; and on Sudan Broadcasting Service, as well as religious radio stations in that country.

4 DIALECT SURVEY

There are many varieties of Arabic. Formal, literary (Egyptian) is often considered the standard; so is Modern Standard (based on Cairene Arabic).

5 ORTHOGRAPHY STATUS

Arabic has a standardized orthography.

Hausa

1 CLASSIFICATION AND WHERE SPOKEN

Hausa, which belongs to the Hausa-Gwandara subgroup of the Chadic branch of Afro-Asiatic, is spoken in a very large portion of West Africa. Hausa is a first language in the northern Nigerian states of Sokoto, Kaduna, Kano, and Bauchi. It is a universal lingua franca in the remainder of the northern states of Nigeria as well as in Niger. It is a second language for many people in Benin, Chad, Cameroon, and Togo, and it is also spoken in enclaves in Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Libya, southern Nigeria, Sudan (Blue Nile Province), and Senegal.

2 NUMBER OF SPEAKERS

Twenty million first-language speakers are estimated (WTPR 1982). Total speakers (L1 and L2) are estimated at 25 to 40 million (Gouffe 1981; Ingawa, personal communication, 1983). Hausa is spoken as a first language by Hausa, many Fula and Tuareg, and increasingly by most neighboring Hausa (Schuh, personal communication, 1985).

3 USAGE

Schuh (see above) reports that "Hausa is an official language in Nigeria. It is a main trade language in northern Nigeria and Niger and in common use throughout Nigeria. It is a subject in Nigerian secondary schools and universities and is the language of instruction for the elementary grades in Hausa-speaking areas. More than half of the broadcasting on northern Nigerian radio and television stations is in Hausa, and Nigeria boasts several Hausa language newspapers as well as an ever increasing number of publications of all types in Hausa. In addition to, Nigerian and Cameroonian radio stations, all international broadcasters with transmissions to West Africa have programs in Hausa. These include the BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, Radio Moscow, and Radio Peking."

4 DIALECT SURVEY

Gouffe (1981) notes the "remarkable unity" of Hausa, even though there are noticeable differences from west to east.

5 ORTHOGRAPHY STATUS

Hausa has both a standardized Romanized and an Arabic orthography. The former is based primarily around the Kano dialect.

Swahili

Also visit the SCALI Intensive Summer Language Program
and the
MSU Swahili Home Page for more information.

1 CLASSIFICATION AND WHERE SPOKEN

Swahili, of the Swahili subgroup of Coastal Bantu (Guthrie G42), is a major language spoken in many dialect forms throughout East Africa. It is spoken primarily in the Sahil (coastal) region of East Africa, from northern Mozambique (including the Comoros), throughout Tanzania and Kenya and north to mid-Somalia.

2 NUMBER OF SPEAKERS

WTPR (1982) reports about thirty million Swahili speakers, while Heine (1970) states: "It may be assumed today that 20 to 25 million have mastered Swahili more or less well."

3 USAGE

Swahili is the official language of Tanzania and an official language in Zaire and Kenya. It is a language of instruction in Tanzania and is used extensively in East Africa as a trade language or as a lingua franca. Swahili is heard on radio broadcasts of La Voix de la Revolution (Burundi), Voice of America (Liberia), Federal Radio Corporation (Nigeria), Deutsche Welle Relay Station Africa (Rwanda), Radio-diffusion de la Republique Rwandaise, external broadcasts from the South African Broadcasting Company, on Swaziland Broadcasting Service, Radio Tanzania's internal broadcasts and broadcasts to Zanzibar, La Voix du Zaire and Radio Candip (Zaire's educational broadcast service). Swahili periodicals include, in Kenya, Taifa Leo (daily), Chemsha Bongo (weekly), Afrika ya Kesho (monthly), and various trade and religious papers. In Tanzania there are two dailies, Kipanga and Uhuru, as well as numerous other periodicals. Literature in Swahili is extensive.

4 DIALECT SURVEY

Since there is a standard (literary) form of Swahili, one set of teaching materials will be sufficient. Nonetheless, there are many dialectal variants of Swahili (see Heine, 1980, for more details).

5 ORTHOGRAPHIC STATUS

Swahili has a standardized orthography, although there are slight variations among countries.

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Last updated: January 2002

 

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