What Languages Are Spoken In Niger?
Posted by khethiwe qotyana on 16 April 2018 2:25 PM SAST
Niger is a vast west-African country with a population of about 19 million residents. The country has at least 20 indigenous languages with most of the languages being closely related. Some linguists merge the languages to make eight major languages. Niger was a former French colony, and after gaining independence, the country retained French as the official language in the country. The country also has ten national languages.
National Languages Of Niger
Hausa is one of the ten national languages in Niger and is also the most popular native language in the country. Hausa is classified as a West Chadic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family. There are about 30 million Hausa native speakers in West Africa with another 20 million people using the language as a second language. Due to the widespread use of Hausa, the language is used as a lingua franca in much of western Africa. The majority of the native speakers of the Hausa language are members of the Hausa ethnic group in Niger. There are several dialects of the Hausa language in Niger which are all geographically defined. These dialects include Kurhwayanci, Daragaram, Aderawa, Arawci, and Arewa.
Tamasheq is the collective word used to define the Tuareg languages used in Niger. The language has about 900,000 native languages in Niger. The language is categorized under the Berber language group of the Afro-Asiatic language family. There are two main languages under the larger Tamasheq language which include the Air Tamajeq language and the Tawellemmet language. The majority of native speakers of the Tawellemmet language come from the Iwellemmeden Tuareg ethnic group. The Air Tamajeq language is spoken by members of the Tuareg ethnic group who reside around the Air Mountains found in the Agadez region of Niger. There are two distinct dialects of the Air Tamajeq language which are Gofat and Ingal.
Kanuri language is another national language in Niger. The language is popular around the Lake Chad region where the language has over 4.2 million native users and is used as a lingua franca in the region. The Kanuri language is classified under the Western Saharan language group in the Nilo-Saharan language family. Traditionally, Kanuri was written using the Ajami Arabic script, but in recent years the language uses Latin script in its written format.
The Songhai language is a collective term of closely related languages of the Nilo-Saharan language family. These languages include the Zarma language, the Gadal language, and the Tasawaq language. Zarma is the most popular language of the Songhai languages with 2.4 million native speakers in Niger. Zarma speakers are predominantly found in the southwestern region of Niger. The Gadal language is spoken by the Igalan and Iberogan ethnic groups who inhabit the central region of Niger.
Other National Languages Of Niger
The other national languages used in Niger are Fulfulde, Arabic, Gourmanchema, Tebu, Buduma, and Tassawaq.
Official Language Of Niger
Niger, being one of the 24 Francophone countries in Africa, has French as one the major languages used in the country. French language is recognized as the official language of Niger and is used as the primary medium of official communication. The language is based on the French language used in France which was brought to the country by French colonialists while Niger was a French colony. French has been incorporated into the Niger education system.