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Old 07-27-2012, 05:35 PM
 
Location: West Coast
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Default Speaking Multiple Languages in Africa

Is it generally the educated that are able to master so many languages, or is this just an ability that most people learn to do irregardless of education and class level? Also, what are some the most well known widely spoken non-European languages on the continent? I realize that there are too many to name all, but there are some languages that are more well known in various regions than others.
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Old 07-27-2012, 06:27 PM
 
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Think this is country specific. The continent is LARGE, and in each country there is a dominant language, and then there could be language based on ethnic tribe, and then there is a different one I'm sure for religion. A lot of African countries have several different ethnic tribes that make up that country. So the question posed is rather broad.

Now a days, the language to learn in any African country and in this one as well is Mandarin and or an Indian language.
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Old 07-28-2012, 02:49 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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It depends on what you want to do there. For just tourism, it will be English in former British colonies and French in former French colonies. Chinese would be absolutely useless, except if you want to be in the import export business dealing with Chinese businessmen. Everybody who has roots in India can speak English, so there is no point learning Hindi to talk to Indian businessmen. Arabic would be useful north of the Sahel, but not worth the effort to learn it. Virtually all Indians and Chinese are engaged in mercantile trade, so you'll never find an African in the street who knows either of those languages.

As for African languages, I doubt if there is a single African country where the same African language is understood by more than half the people. Even a lot of cities, like Kinshasa, have several African languages all going on within the city, and everybody you are likely to speak two will understand at least two of them, as well as French.

Even fairly dull children in African cities can speak and understand several languages. Languages require no intelligence at all to learn to speak and understand in childhood, so children learn as many as they are exposed to, regardless of their intellectual level.
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Old 07-28-2012, 07:30 PM
 
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If you want to learn a African language that is widely spoken in more than one country, let me suggest Swahili. Now I know that Swahili is not spoken all over the continent. In fact, it is confined to East Africa. However, it is used extensively in Kenya, Tanzania and Eastern Congo. In fact, in Tanzania, it seemed to me to be the most important language in the country, even more than English. It is spoken extensively throughout Tanzania since it usage was encouraged by ex-President Nyerere to unify the country. It is also vital if you travel to the Eastern Congo and will open up many doors in Kenya as well. You will also be able to find some speakers in Rwanda and Uganda as well. The widespread usage of Swahili in East Africa along with the ease in which it can be learned has led me to suggest this language to you.
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Old 07-28-2012, 08:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayarea-girl View Post
Now a days, the language to learn in any African country and in this one as well is Mandarin and or an Indian language.
Really? Why would that be true?
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Old 07-28-2012, 08:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post

As for African languages, I doubt if there is a single African country where the same African language is understood by more than half the people. Even a lot of cities, like Kinshasa, have several African languages all going on within the city, and everybody you are likely to speak two will understand at least two of them, as well as French.
In West Africa there are several countries where a majority of the country understands the same indigenous language because most of us speak several indigenous languages.

Ghana - Twi
Guinea - Fulani
Senegal and the Gambia- Wolof
Mali - Bambara

There may be more but these are just the ones I know of personally. The overwhelming majority of us learn European languages only in school yet speak several indigenous languages as a result of living in multi-ethnic countries.
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Old 07-28-2012, 08:50 PM
 
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Default Malagasy Austronesia

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
As for African languages, I doubt if there is a single African country where the same African language is understood by more than half the people. Even a lot of cities, like Kinshasa, have several African languages all going on within the city, and everybody you are likely to speak two will understand at least two of them, as well as French.
Madagascar is united by a single language: Malagasy.

Though it does not belong to any other language family in Africa.
Instead, it is related to RapaNui of Easter Island, Hawaiian, Maori, Philippine, Indonesian, etc.
Their phenotypes also reflect this kinship.

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Originally Posted by Neutre View Post
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Old 07-29-2012, 09:33 AM
 
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jtur88 & dahomeyahosi,

Easier if I address both at the same time. The initial poster asked about what language outside of a European language is widely spoken in Africa and there really isn't one (that is why I didn't mention English or French). Guess I could have said Arabic (but not widely spread across the continent).

Chinese and an Indian language will be not only helpful to learn in Africa but here as well. Both groups are vastly moving and or doing business in the continent. Many conglomerants and farms (what Africans have been known to do since the beginning of time, are being taken over). It would make sense for us to know their language as they learn ours.
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Old 07-29-2012, 12:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayarea-girl View Post
jtur88 & dahomeyahosi,

Chinese and an Indian language will be not only helpful to learn in Africa but here as well. Both groups are vastly moving and or doing business in the continent. Many conglomerants and farms (what Africans have been known to do since the beginning of time, are being taken over). It would make sense for us to know their language as they learn ours.
I haven't met any Chinese in Ghana but all of the Indians I've interacted with speak English, as we were both colonized by the British. Personally I will push for my daughter to speak English, Twi, and Ewe at a minimum. Other than that I'd love for her to learn other African languages so that she can travel comfortably throughout the region. I find that other West Africans really open up when we speak the same language. Mandarin and Hindi aren't particularly useful in Ghana.
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Old 07-29-2012, 12:36 PM
 
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I can also think of other countries where the majority of the population speaks a native tongue.

In Equatorial Guinea, the majority of the population is Fang. Hence, Fang is a native language spoken by the majority of the population in that country.

In Botswana the majority of the population is Tswana (80%) and speaks a language called Setswana. It has official status in Botswana alongside English.

In Swaziland, the majority are Swazi and speak a language called Swati. Swati is official alongside English.

In Lesotho, the majority of the population are Sotho and speak a language called Sesotho. Sesotho is also official alongside English.

In Rwanda the majority of the population speaks Kanyarwanda (despite French and English having official status) and the majority in Burundi speak Kirundi.

In Somalia almost everyone speaks Somali.
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