Languages of Mozambique

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Mozambique is a multilingual country. A number of Bantu languages are indigenous to Mozambique. Portuguese, inherited from the colonial period (see: Portuguese Mozambique), is the official language, and Mozambique is a full member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. Ethnologue lists 43 languages spoken in the country. According to INE - Mozambique's National Institute for Statistics - Portuguese is the most widely spoken language in Mozambique: According to the 2007 national population and housing census, 50.4% of the national population aged 5 and older (80.8% of people living in urban areas and 36.3% in rural areas) are fluent in the language. Other widely spoken languages include Swahili, Makhuwa, Sena, Ndau, and Shangaan (Tsonga). Other indigenous languages of Mozambique include Lomwe, Makonde, Chopi, Chuwabu, Ronga, Kimwani, Zulu, and Tswa. The language of the deaf community is Mozambican Sign Language.

Small communities of Arabs, Chinese, and Indians speak their own languages (Indians from Portuguese India speak any of the Portuguese Creoles of their origin) aside from Portuguese as their second language.

Commercial signs in Portuguese in Maputo.

Sociolinguistics[edit]

Multilingualism[edit]

Most Mozambicans speak more than one language.[citation needed]. According to the 2007 census about 50.4% of all people aged 5 and older speak Portuguese, and 10.7%, including people of Portuguese ancestry and mestiços, speak it as their first language.

Linguistic geography[edit]

Influence among languages[edit]

Many indigenous languages of Mozambique have loan words of Portuguese origin.

Largest language groups[edit]

Mozambique largest language groups (1998)[1]
Language Number of speakers (L1) Percentage of population
Emakhuwa 4,007,010 24.8
Cisena 1,807,319 11.2
Xichangana 1,799,614 11.2
Elomwe 1,269,527 7.9
Cishona 1,070,471 6.6
Xitswa 763,029 4.7
Xironga 626,174 3.9
Portuguese
(Mozambican)
489,915 3
Cinyungwe 446,567 2.8
Cicopi 406,521 2.5
Ciyao 374,426 2.3
Shimakonde 371,111 2.3
Ekoti 102,393 0.6
Kimwani 29,980 0.2
Swahili 21,070 0.1
Swazi 7,742 0.05
Zulu 3,529 0.02
Total 16,135,403 100

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Inquérito Nacional aos Agregados Familiares sobre Condições de Vida, Resultados Gerais, Instituto Nacional de Estatística, Maputo, 1998.

External links[edit]