Languages of Angola
|Languages of Angola|
|National languages||All recognized languages of Angola are "national languages"|
|Main foreign languages||English, French|
|Part of a series on the|
Portuguese is the sole official language. Due to cultural, social and political mechanisms which date back to the colonial history, the number of native Portuguese speakers is large and growing. A 2012 study by the Angolan National Institute for Statistics found that Portuguese is the mother tongue of 39% of the population. It is spoken as a second language by many more throughout the country, and younger urban generations are moving towards the dominant or exclusive use of Portuguese. A 2014 study found that about 71% of the nearly 25.8 million inhabitants of Angola speak Portuguese.
In urban areas, 85% of the population speaks Portuguese, against 49% in rural areas. Portuguese was quickly adopted by Angolans in mid-twentieth century as a lingua franca among the various ethnic groups. After the Angolan Civil War, many people moved to the cities where they learned Portuguese. When they returned to the countryside, more people were speaking Portuguese as a first language. The variant of the Portuguese language used in Angola is known as Angolan Portuguese. Phonetically, this variant is very similar to the Brazilian variant with some notable exceptions. In some respects, Angolan Portuguese resembles that of a pidgin.
However, in Cabinda, wedged between two French-speaking countries — the DRC and the Congo — many people speak French as well as, or better than, Portuguese. In fact, of the literate population, 90 percent speak French while 10 percent speak Portuguese. Also, the Angolan Bakongo who were exiled in the Democratic Republic of the Congo usually speak better French and Lingala than Portuguese and Kikongo.
West Africans speak English or French and their native African languages and are usually learning at least some Portuguese. The foreign language mostly learned by Angolans is English, but among the Bakongo (in the Northwest and Cabinda) French is often more important. English will soon be a required subject in Angolan schools. French used to be required as an elective, but it is no longer mandatory.
All native languages of Angola are considered to be national languages. After independence, the government said it would choose six to be developed as literary languages. The six languages vary between government pronouncements, but commonly included are Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo (presumably the Fiote of Cabinda), Chokwe, Kwanyama, and Ganguela (never clearly defined; may be Nyemba, Luchazi, or indeterminate). Angolan radio transmits in fourteen of the "main" national languages: Bangala, Cokwe, Fiote, Helelo, Kikongo, Kimbundu, Kwanyama, Lunda, Ngangela, Ngoya, Nyaneka, Oxiwambo, Songo, Umbundu. Some of the national languages are used in Angolan schools, including the provision of teaching materials such as books, but there is a shortage of teachers.
Umbundu is the most widely-spoken Bantu language, spoken natively by about 23 percent of the population, about 5.9 million. It is mainly spoken in the center and south of the country. Kimbundu is spoken in Luanda Province and adjacent provinces. Kikongo is spoken in the northwest, including the exclave of Cabinda. About 8.24% of Angolans use Kikongo. Fiote is spoken by about 2.9%, mainly in Cabinda.
The San people speak languages from two families, the !Kung and Khoe, though only a few hundred speak the latter. The majority of San fled to South Africa after the end of the civil war. The extinct Kwadi language may have been distantly related to Khoe, and Kwisi is entirely unknown; their speakers were neither Khoisan nor Bantu.
- PanAfrican L10n page on Angola
- L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde - Angola
- Ethnologue Listing of Angolan Languages
- Angola Ethnologue
- During late colonialism, 1962-1975, when all Angolans were considered as Portuguese citizens with equal rights, many black middle class families in the cities refused to teach their children native languages, so that they could compete with the whites, speaking Portuguese the same way.
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