Languages of Niger

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Distribution map of the national languages of Niger

Depending on how they are counted, Niger has between 8 and 20 indigenous languages. The discrepancy comes from the fact that several are closely related, and can be grouped together or considered apart.

French, inherited from the colonial period, is the official language. It is spoken mainly as a second language by people who have received an education. Although educated Nigeriens still constitute a relatively small percentage of the population, the French language is the language used by the official administration (courts, government, etc.), the media and the business community. See also: African French.

The usual categorization of languages of Niger mentions eight national languages (Hausa, Zarma/Songhai, Fulfulde, Tamajeq, Kanuri, Arabic, Gurma, and Tebu) although statutorily there are ten.[1] These ten national languages, their language families, the approximate percentage of the population that speak them, their approximate home regions, and additional information are as follows:

Language Family Approx % Main region Notes
Hausa Afro-Asiatic / Chadic 49.6 South, central Main trade language[2]
Zarma & Songhai Nilo-Saharan 25.5 Southwest Zarma and "Kaado" Songhay are considered together
Tamajeq Afro-Asiatic / Berber 08.4 North
Fulfulde Niger–Congo / Atlantic 08.3 All Fulfulde of Western Niger & Central-Eastern Niger are considered together
Kanuri Nilo-Saharan 04.8 Southeast
Colloquial Arabic Afro-Asiatic / Semitic 01.2 North
Gurma Niger–Congo / Gur 00.? Southwest corner
Toubou Nilo-Saharan 00.? East
Buduma Afro-Asiatic / Chadic 00.? East
Tassawaq Nilo-Saharan? 00.? North central

References[edit]