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Facts About Niger Congo Languages

Facts About Niger Congo Languages
nigercongo languages
(Last Updated On: October 3, 2020)

Can you imagine the chaos we would be facing if the world wasn’t divided into perfectly balanced categories? If you entered a grocery store and there were no separate aisles for different household items, you would not be able to find a single thing. When people enter their rooms and they know exactly where something is, it helps them find that item much more easily. This is why when you send someone else to your room to pick up something, there is a high chance they won’t be able to find it. This is why we feel at peace in the world because we know where something is. If you woke up tomorrow and found out that the world isn’t divided in categories anymore and you have to look for items on a website before shopping instead of just opening the menu and selecting electronics and beauty, you will feel completely out of place.

Nature has also made categories for us and put things in their different places. A mountain cannot change its location and show up in the middle of a city. The same way, humans have made categories too so they can better understand the things around us. We have categorized both natural and man-made things. There are elements that we have divided in different categories based on their features and then there are skincare products which we placed in their respective places.

Languages are also something humans created. We made them so we can talk to each other properly and convey whatever we are feeling. However, the more the population of the earth grew, the more vernaculars we created. It is just like the cultures that are practiced in the world today. The more tribes and nations showed up on earth, the more traditions they made up to follow. Just like cultures, each language is unique and has its particular set of features. But there are a few that share similarities either because of closeness of location or a common ancestor. In either case, the ones with similar features are placed in the same family.

There are over seven thousand languages in the world and the number will rise when we discover more communities and hidden cultures. All of these tongues are divided into families which are further subdivided into groups. There are some features in each family which are consistent throughout the groups. There are also those features which are shared by the members of one group only. In any case, studying a language family and what makes it different from other categories is pretty interesting. A lot of it may not be understandable for those who are not familiar with linguistics. Linguists, on the other hand, love to study such similarities and take joy in learning about different vernaculars.

Congo Language
  • How many Niger Congo languages are there?

    Niger Congo is one of the world’s largest language families. According to estimates, there are 1540 Niger Congo languages. But there has much debate about this family. The subgroups and even the total number of languages is a controversial topic when it comes to the Niger Congo languages. One thing is for certain and that’s the fact that it is one of the primary language families in the world.

  • What is the most common language in Niger?

    Niger is a multilingual country and has eleven official languages. French enjoys official status at the state level and is used by the authorities when publishing documents and reports. But it is Hausa which is the most popular language among the population. It is spoken by more than half of the country’s population.

  • What are the languages spoken in Niger?

    Niger is a landlocked country located in West Africa. It has a multilingual society. French is the official language of the country. But other vernaculars like Hausa, Songhai, and Tamasheq are also spoken by a considerable percentage of the population. A small percentage of the population also speak Arabic, Kanuri, and Tebu.

  • Is Swahili a tonal language?

    Unlike other African languages, Swahili has no lexical tones, which makes it similar to English. As a result, it is super easy to learn for the speakers of the English language. Most African vernaculars are tonal, which means that the difference in the pitch of the pronunciation affects the meaning of a word.

  • How many Niger Congo languages are there?

    There is much debate about the total number of Niger Congo languages. The subgroups of the family are also not clearly established. But according to estimates, there are 1540 languages in the Niger Congo family. Yoruba, Igbo, Swahili, and Zulu are the most commonly known languages from the Niger Congo family.

  • What is the most common language in Niger?

    African countries are known for their cultural and linguistic diversity, Niger is no different. Eleven languages enjoy official status in the country. French is the language that is recognized officially at the state level. The most commonly spoken language is Hausa. There are also Arabic and Tebu speakers in Niger.

  • What are the languages spoken in Niger?

    Niger has one official language, which is French. But there are also ten other languages which are recognized at the national level. Out of all of them, Hausa, Songhai, Tamasheq, and Fulfulde are spoken by a considerable percentage of the population. You can also find speakers of the Arabic language in Niger.

  • Is Yoruba a Bantu language?

    The Yoruba language is spoken in West Africa. The total number of Yoruba speakers are estimated to be between 45 to 55 million. Yoruba is not a Bantu language. It is not spoken by the Bantu peoples, but by the ethnic Yoruba people. It belongs to the Edekiri branch of the Niger Congo language family.

Niger Congo Languages:

Congo Language

In terms of distinct languages, this is the world’s largest linguistic family. The tongues that fall under this category are spoken by over 700 million people which make the family the third largest in the world by number of native speakers. A lot of ethnic languages which are spoken by particular groups are a part of this family, for instance, Yoruba and Igbo. The family has plenty of groups which include languages spoken in different parts of Africa.

Facts About Niger Congo Languages:

Here are some interesting facts about this language family:

  1. Over 85 percent of Africa’s population speak a Niger Congo language. This explains the popularity of the family and its reach in the continent. Even if a tongue from this family is not spoken by the majority in an African country, it will have speakers among the minority communities.
  2. Linguists are divided over the total number of Niger Congo languages but according to estimates, the number lies between 1400 and 1500. This includes all the big indigenous languages spoken in the region. The lack of recorded history of African languages make it impossible to note down all the names of old tongues that belonged to this group and have gone extinct.
  3. The biggest subgroup of Niger Congo family is that of the Bantu languages. They have 350 million speakers, which means half of the speaking population of the family falls under this group. Majority of the major languages spoken in Africa fall under this group. Many linguists study this group passionately because of its importance.
  4. Whenever the number of tongues is counted for this group, dialects are not included. The reason behind that is the huge number of dialects spoken in the region and the various names used for different dialects. In some areas, even the same dialect may have different names which can be confusing for students. And the number of dialects increases quicker than the number of languages.
  5. The biggest languages in the family includes the likes of Swahili and Yoruba. Swahili has the greatest number of speakers in the family including both native and non-native speakers. It has almost 150 million speakers. The number of people studying Swahili is always on the rise because of its importance in the region. Learning it can help people communicate with a large number of the African population.

The family known for the use of a noun class system is probably the most important language group in the world. Africa has always been something people want to understand but don’t know how to go about that, but learning these languages can be of great help.

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