Do you know that over 2000 languages are spoken in Africa? Do you also know that 75 of these have over one million speakers?
As per Statista, a fourth of these languages, approximately 522, are spoken in Nigeria alone. However, one indigenous language becomes extinct every two weeks. Over half of the indigenous languages spoken in the world will be non-existent by 2100. Some of the declining or extinct languages in Africa include Ajawa, Seroa, Ancient Nubian, Geez, and Mesmes just to name a few.
Why are languages declining all over the world? It is due to forced or spontaneous cultural assimilation. Initially, assimilation was effected through colonialism where cultural practices and languages of minority groups were suppressed by those of the colonizers. High levels of education where only certain languages are used in classrooms and improved road network have also led to the decline of some languages. At the same time, some parents fail to teach indeginous languages to their children, further exacerbating the decline.
The most spoken languages in Africa
According to Harvard University, African languages are divided into four categories namely; Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, and Khoisan. Approximately, Niger-Congo has 1,650 languages making it the largest among the four and the largest language family globally. Some of the most spoken languages in Africa are:
15 percent of Africa's population of 1.37 billion speak Arabic as per WorldData.info. The language which has about 205.7 million speakers is mostly spread out in Western Sahara. Arabic is officially spoken in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania. It is also used among other official languages in Sudan, Somalia, Morocco, Djibouti, Eritrea and Chad.
It is also known as Kiswahili. According to Wikipedia, the language has about 200 million speakers. It is a Bantu language comprising over a dozen major dialects. Swahili is used as the official language in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. However, it is also used in other countries like Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Ethiopia, northern Mozambique, southern Somalia and Comoros Islands.
Translations and interpretations: Is there need in Africa?
Globalization is on the rise world over and more so in Africa. As businesses and institutions seek to reach their target audiences in the most efficient and effective way, translations and interpretations have become important. CSA Research stated that, 40 percent of internet users said they will never buy from non-native websites.
In addition, localization of products and services is made easier by language translations and interpretations. Localization is ensuring that a given product or service meets the need, look and feel of a given population through its local language and culture. By doing so institutions get a wider reach to their targeted audiences.
In the future, English, Spanish, Mandarin, French, and Arabic are expected to be the most spoken languages in the world. However, Indigenous languages are important and more than just methods of communication. They preserve the indeginous people's cultures and express their views of the world. They also act as a mark of their identity and when the languages are threatened so are the people themselves.