Languages of the African Union

Languages of the African Union

The languages of the African Union (AU) are languages used by citizens within the member states of the AU. The Union has defined all languages of Africa as official, and currently uses Arabic, English, French, and Portuguese as its working languages [ [ Article 25 of the Constitutive Act of African Union] ] . The prominence of Arabic in many African countries is due to the Arabization of local African populations from the 7th century, whilst European languages were introduced during the period of European colonialism in the continent.

Supplemental protocols have made Swahili and Spanish working languages. In 2001, the AU created the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) to harmonize the various languages across the continent and safeguard any that are on the verge of becoming extinct. To that end, the AU declared 2006 the Year of African Languagescite web |url= |title=Ethiopia: AU Launches 2006 As Year of African Languages |accessyear=2006 |year=2006 | |language=English] cite web |url= |title=The Year of African Languages (2006) - Plan for the year of African Languages - Executive Summary |accessdate=2006-09-30 |author=Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa |year=2006 |publisher=Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa |language=English] .

Languages of AU states

*DZA - The Constitution of Algeria defines the official language as Arabic; an amendment made Berber a national language, with four dialects being spoken. French is spoken by governmental and educational elite. There is also an Algerian Sign Language. (Languages of Algeria)
*AGO - Portuguese is the official language, and many persons speak one or several of 41 Bantu or Khoisan languages. (Languages of Angola)
*BEN - French is the official language, with Fon and Yoruba being the most common languages in the south. At least six major languages are spoken in the north. (Languages of Benin)
*BWA - English is the official language, with Tswana being the most common national language. There are significant communities that speak Ikalanga and Sekgalagadi. (Languages of Botswana)
*BFA - French is the official language, but most speak one of the Sudanic languages. (Languages of Burkina Faso)
*BDI - French and Kirundi are co-official. Many persons also speak Swahili. (Languages of Burundi)
*CMR - English and French are co-official, with Cameroonian Pidgin English widely spoken. Twenty-four major African language families and sub-groups are present in Cameroon. Cameroon is one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world. (Languages of Cameroon)
*CPV - Standard Portuguese is official along with nine creoles. (Languages of Cape Verde)
*CAF - French and Sango are co-official; the latter is the lingua franca. Sango is the local language with the most speakers, 70 languages are listed in the Ethnologue report for the country. (Languages of the Central African Republic)
*TCD - Arabic and French are co-official, with over 120 other languages spoken. (Languages of Chad)
*COM - Arabic, French, and Comorian are co-official; the latter is a Bantu language closely related to Swahili. (Languages of Comoros)
*COD - French is official, with four national languages: Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba. There are an estimated total of 242 languages spoken in the DRC. (Languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo)
*COG - French is official, but is only spoken by the cultural elite. Kituba and Lingala are national linguae francae; the latter is a creole of Kikongo. (Languages of the Republic of the Congo)
*CIV - French is official, with some 60 indigenous languages, of which the Dioula dialect of Bambara is the most widely spoken. Other languages include: the Gur languages, the Kru languages (including the Bété languages, Dida, Nyabwa, , and Western Krahn), and the Kwa languages. (Languages of Côte d'Ivoire)
*DJI - Arabic and French are co-official; Afar and Somali are widely spoken. (Languages of Djibouti)
*EGY - Arabic is official, with Masri (Egyptian Arabic) being the national standard.
*GNQ - Spanish, French and Portuguese are official. Other languages include Annobonese, Bubi, Fang, Ibo, and a pidgin English. (Languages of Equatorial Guinea)
*ERI - There is no official language per se, but Arabic, English, Italian, and Tigrinya are used by the government. Other common languages include Afar, Blin, Kunama, Nara, Saho, and Tigre. Ge'ez is the liturgical language of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church. Amharic is spoken by Ethiopians. (Languages of Eritrea)
*ETH - Amharic is official, among more than 80 languages spoken. English is widely spoken and taught in secondary school. (Languages of Ethiopia)
*GAB - French is official, but many African languages are spoken. (Languages of Gabon)
*GMB - English is official, but many African languages are spoken. (Languages of Gambia)
*GHA - English is official, Akan, Dagaare/Wale, Dagbane, Dangme, Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem and Nzema are government-recognized languages. (Languages of Ghana)
*GIN - French is official, Susu is the lingua franca. (Languages of Guinea)
*GNB - Portuguese is official, but the most widely spoken language is a Portuguese-based creole language, Kriol. (Languages of Guinea-Bissau)
*KEN - Swahili and English are official, many other languages are spoken. (Languages of Kenya)
*LSO - Sesotho and English are official. (Languages of Lesotho)
*LBR - English is official, many African languages are spoken. (Languages of Liberia)
*LBY - Arabic is official, Tamazight is spoken by about 10% of the population. Italian is understood by some older Libyans. (Languages of Libya)
*MDG - Malagasy, French and English are official. (Languages of Madagascar)
*MWI - Chichewa and English are official. (Languages of Malawi)
*MLI - French is official, Bambara is the primary lingua franca. (Languages of Mali)
*MRT - Hassaniya Arabic and French are official, other languages spoken include: Pulaar, Soninke, and Wolof. (Languages of Mauritania)
*MUS - English is official, the native language of much of the populace is Mauritian Creole. Hindi and other Indian languages are spoken by the Indian community. Arabic, Portuguese and various Chinese dialects like Hakka and Mandarin are also spoken by some. (Languages of Mauritius)
*MOZ - Portuguese is the official language. Makua , Sena, Ndau, Shangaan and Swahili are spoken by a sizable amount of the population. The educated often speak English as a second or third language. The Arab, Indian and Chinese communities speak their own languages. (Languages of Mozambique)
*NAM - The official language is English. Half of all Namibians speak Oshiwambo (Ovambo) as their first language, whereas the most widely understood language is Afrikaans. Most "whites" in Namibia speak Afrikaans or German which were the official languages before independence. (Languages of Namibia)
*NER - French is the official language. Hausa, Djerma, Tamajaq, Fulfulde are important African languages. (Languages of Niger)
*NGA - English is the official language, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, Efik, Adamawa, Fulfulde] , Idoma, and Central Kanuri are all widely spoken. 510 languages currently exist with native speakers in Nigeria. (Languages of Nigeria)
*RWA - Kinyarwanda, French, and English are official languages. Kinyarwanda is the most spoken mother tongue. (Languages of Rwanda)
*STP - Portuguese is the official language, spoken by 95% of the population. Other languages include the Portuguese-based creoles Forro (85%), Angolar (3%) and Principense (0.1%). (Languages of São Tomé and Príncipe)
*SEN - French is the official language, used regularly by a minority of Senegalese educated in a system styled upon the colonial-era schools of French origin. Most persons also speak their own ethnic language while, especially in Dakar, Wolof is the lingua franca. Pulaar is spoken by the Peuls and Toucouleur. Various Portuguese Creoles are spoken in Senegal by those from Guinea-Bissau and São Tomé and Príncipe. (Languages of Senegal)
*SYC - English, French and Seychellois Creole are official. As Seychelles had no indigenous population, many languages are spoken by the various African, Chinese, European, and Indian peoples who colonized it. Seychellois Creole is the lingua franca between these groups. (Languages of Seychelles)
*SLE - English is the official language but it is only understood by a minority. Most persons speak their ethnic language. (Languages of Sierra Leone)
*SOM - Somali, Arabic and Italian are official. Somali is the most spoken language. Minority languages include Maay-Maay, Barawa and Swahili. A considerable amount of Somalis speak Arabic in religion, commerce and education. English is also widely used and taught in schools. In some pockets in Southern Somalia, Italian is also used as a second language. (Languages of Somalia)
*ZAF - South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sesotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. (Languages of South Africa)
*SDN - Arabic and English are the official languages. Many African languages are spoken in both North and South Sudan. (Languages of Sudan)
*SWZ - English, Swati and Zulu are official languages. (Languages of Swaziland)
*TZA - English and Swahili are the official languages. Swahili is the dominant lingua franca. Gujarati is spoken by many in the Indian community. About 120 indigenous languages from all the four language families of Africa are spoken. (Languages of Tanzania)
*TGO - French is the official language. Ewe and Kabiye are national languages. (Languages of Togo)
*TUN - Arabic is official, French is often used as a language of commerce. The Berber minority speaks various Berber languages including Shelha, Ghadamès, Nafusi, Sened (may be extinct) and Djerbi. (Languages of Tunisia)
*UGA - English and Swahili are official, although Swahili is rarely used. Luganda is the most spoken language. Other important languages include Lusoga, Ruyankole, Rukiga, Teso, Masaba, Nyoro and Ayoro (Languages of Uganda)
*SADR - The official language is Arabic. (Languages of Western Sahara)
*ZMB - English is the official language, many African languages are spoken by the country's roughly 72 different ethnic groups. (Languages of Zambia)
*ZWE - English is the official language, but is the native language of only 2% of the population, while Shona and Ndebele are spoken by the majority of the population. (Languages of Zimbabwe)

Language issues


Many African states have low literacy levels, in part as a product of poor educational infrastructure and several regional and ethnic languages lacking an alphabet or writing system at all or until the twentieth century. the United Nations Development Programmecite web |url= |title=United Nations Development Programme Report 2005 |accessdate=2006-09-29 |author=United Nations Development Programme |year=2005 |format=pdf |publisher=United Nations Development Programme |language=English] is the United Nations agency responsible for collecting information regarding demographics such as literacy. In 2005, the Programme ranked several African states at the bottom of its rankings. One exception to the tendency toward illiteracy in Africa is the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. This community is estimated to have 90% literacy, making them second only to the Boers of South Africa as the most literate African nation.

Language extinction

Several African languages are on the verge of extinction due to increasing urbanization and the lack of a written alphabet.

External links

* [ African Academy of Languages]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Languages of the European Union — Official language(s) Bulgarian Czech Danish Dutch English Estonian Finnish French German …   Wikipedia

  • Life in the African Union — Economy The combined states of the African Union constitute the world s 17th largest economy with a nominal GDP of $500 billion, ranking after the Netherlands. By measuring GDP by PPP, the African Union s economy totals $1.515 trillion, ranking… …   Wikipedia

  • Geography of the African Union — Life in the African Union Citizenship Culture Demographics Economy Education Enlargement Foreign relations Geography History Languages Military Politics Sport Statistics Member states of the A …   Wikipedia

  • African Union — الاتحاد الأفريقي (Arabic) …   Wikipedia

  • Languages of the United Kingdom — Languages of country = United Kingdom official = English [Citation url= title=United Kingdom; Key Facts publisher=Commonwealth Secretariat accessdate=2008 04 23] main = English >90%… …   Wikipedia

  • Languages of the United States — Official language(s) none Main language(s) English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo European 3.8%, Asian …   Wikipedia

  • Demographics of the European Union — The population density of the EU is 114 people per km². A cartogram …   Wikipedia

  • Enlargement of the European Union — The territories of the member states of the European Union (European Communities pre 1993), animated in order of accession. Territories outside of the European neighbourhood not shown. The Enlargement of the European Union is the process of… …   Wikipedia

  • Dissolution of the Soviet Union — Tanks at Red Square during the 1991 Soviet coup d état attempt Participants People of the Soviet Union Federal government …   Wikipedia

  • Council of the European Union — Not to be confused with European Council or Council of Europe. Council of the European Union name in other official languages …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.