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Languages of Africa

Africa is a really big continent. It is divided up into many different countries that each have their own cultural identity. The size of the place means that there are a variety of languages spoken all over the place, and even within the same country. This can be a minefield to the unwary. So here we will take you through some of the most widely spoken languages in Africa.




Swahili is the most widely spoken of all the African languages. It is a Bantu language that is widely spoken across most of the great lake’s region of central, southern and eastern Africa. Swahili is the official language of countries like Kenya and Tanzania so if you are planning to do business with these countries then you will want to be able to communicate in Swahili. Though it will also help you in a large number of other African countries.




This is the official language of Ethiopia and it is the second most spoken semantic language after Arabic. There are some 22 million speakers of Amharic in the world so it is a very popular language. It is closely related to Arabic and this means that it can be trickier for an English speaker to learn. That being said it is easier to learn to speak it than it is to learn to write it as it doesn’t use the standard Roman lettering.




This is one of the most widely spoken languages in Western Africa. It is one of the official languages of Nigeria and is also widely spoken in Benin and Togo. It is still spoken by expats in countries like the US and UK and so it is useful to know. The language is tonal with three different tones, low, mid and high. This means it is a very rich language and there over 15 different dialects of it spoken in Nigeria alone.




This is one of the most widely spoken languages in the horn of Africa. It is particularly common in Ethiopia where it is spoken by 40% of the country. It has had a troubled past as writing it was banned between 1974 and 1991 thanks to dictators in the country. After 1991 it transitioned to using the Latin alphabet which helped it to flourish again.




As well as being a major language for the middle east this is also the official language for a huge number of African countries. In particular amongst the countries along the Northern coast of Africa such as Tunisia and Egypt. Though it is also widely spoken across many of the other countries of Africa. This semantic language can be hard to access for English speakers not least because there are many different variations of it across the different countries. The use of its own alphabet also makes it harder when it comes to reading and writing.


When it comes to African countries there are a wide variety of languages in use and it, therefore, is important to target your work to the correct language for your market. Axis Translations can assist you with African language translation and this includes both audio and video material.

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This entry was posted on Monday, September 30th, 2019 at 9:52 am and is filed under Language Translation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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