Languages of Benin

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Languages of Benin
Official languages French
National languages Baatonum, [language
Sign languages American Sign Language (Francophone African Sign Language)
Other indigenous language(s) Gen, Kabiyé
Signs in French at a market in Porto Novo.

Over fifty languages are spoken in Benin.[1] Of those, French is the official language, and all the indigenous languages are considered national languages.[2]

Of the Beninese languages, Fon (a Gbe language) and Yoruba are the most important in the south of the country. In the north there are half a dozen regionally important languages, including Baatonum (once counted as a Gur language) and Fulfulde.

French was introduced during the colonial period and retained as the official language upon independence.

Education for the deaf in Benin uses American Sign Language, introduced by the deaf American missionary Andrew Foster.

The multilingual character of Beninese society is characterized by the number of languages spoken, ethno-linguistic diversity, stratification of language use (whereby French is used officially and other languages used in other spheres of activity), and by the fact that many Beninese are polyglots.[citation needed]