There are an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 African languages. This makes Africa a linguistically diverse continent. The majority of African languages are divided into four groups. These groups areAfroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo, and Khoisan.
The Indo-European and Austronesian language families are also present in the continent. The presence of the latter languages dates back 2,600 and 1,000 years ago, respectively. African languages also contain a number of unclassified languages and sign languages.
North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and Southwest Asia are home to Afroasiatic languages. 300 million people speak around 375 Afroasiatic languages. Semitic, Cushitic, Berber, and Chadic languages are the primary Afroasiatic language subfamilies. The Semitic languages are the only branch of the Afro-Asian language family spoken outside of Africa.
Arabic (Semitic), Amharic (Semitic), Somali (Cushitic), Oromo (Cushitic), Tamazight (Berber), and Hausa are some of the most frequently spoken Afroasiatic languages. Afroasiatic has the oldest recorded history among the world's surviving language families. It includes both Ancient Egyptian and Akkadian.
The Niger-Saharian (Niger-Congo) region encompasses two-thirds of Africa. Its main branch is the Niger-Congo, which includes over 1000 languages spoken by over 200 million people. A sub-group of the Niger-Congo branch is the Bantu languages of Central, Southern, and Eastern Africa.
In terms of a number of languages, the Niger-Congo language family is Africa's and arguably the world's biggest. A complex noun class system with grammatical concord is one of its most notable features. The bulk of languages in this family, such as Yoruba and Igbo, are tonal. The Bantu family is a significant branch of Niger-Congo languages, covering a larger geographical region than the rest of the family combined.
There are about a hundred languages spoken in Nilo-Saharan Africa. The suggested family's speech region runs from the Nile Valley to northern Tanzania, as well as into Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the other hand, the Songhay languages near the Niger River serve as a geographical outlier. The existence of a genetic relationship between these languages is not yet clear. If they are related, the branches must have undergone significant reorganization after splitting from their common ancestor. This is because the languages have some odd morphology in common. The Songhay languages' inclusion is debatable, and questions have been raised about the Koman, Gumuz, and Kadu branches.
Kanuri, Fur, Songhay, Nobiin, and the Nilotic family, which includes the Luo, Dinka, and Maasai, are some of the most well-known Nilo-Saharan languages. Tonal languages are spoken throughout Nilo-Saharan Africa.
Lastly, Khoisan is a colloquial phrase that refers to a group of 30 languages spoken by between 300,000 and 400,000 people. Five Khoisan families have yet to be proven to be linked. Namibia and Botswana are their principal habitats. Sandawe and Hadza, two Tanzanian language isolates, are geographical outliers.
The usage of click consonants is an interesting and unique feature of Khoisan languages. Clicks are present in certain neighboring Bantu languages (particularly Xhosa and Zulu), although they were borrowed from Khoisan languages. Tones are used in the Khoisan languages.