As you may have previously known, language is a style of communication that is peculiar to a given people. With language, it is easier to delegate a person or group of persons to a particular community, race, country, and even continent. A cursory observation will make anyone see that Nigeria’s language composition is a direct reflection of Africa as a whole. This is because Africa language families consist of three major languages; Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, and the Niger-congo.
The country that is recognized as Nigeria today wasn’t always as it is. The country’s current placement with its own borders, flags, capital and other valuables is as a result of her previous status as a British colony which started in the 1800s. Because the country Nigeria is one of the linguistically diverse countries in the world, several research programs and deductions state that, the languages present in the country may just be a tiny extension of almost every African language there is.
How Many Languages Do We Have In Nigeria?
More than 500 languages and dialects are spoken across the Nation. Nigeria which is on Africa’s western coast is the most populated nation on the continent having a population of about 203 million persons. The Nation gained its independence in the year 1960 after colonization by the British. Because the country’s boundaries/borders were drawn by British colonial powers, they are considered to be artificial by a lot of persons.
As a result, many ethnic groups in Nigeria exist within their limits, and a lot of them have territories that go beyond several countries. A good number of the ethnic languages that are spoken in Nigeria are also observed in some neighboring countries. A good example of certain ethnic groups that exist within their limits in Nigeria is the Hausa and Fulani. The Hausa and Fulani groups both have domains that spread to Cameron from Benin across the Niger.
Nigeria’s Official Language
The official language of Nigeria is English language. The second major language in the country is Nigerian Pidgin — an extension of the English lexicon. An important fact to note is that one-third of the Nation’s population speak Pidgin as their main language. It is widely recognized as the major language of Nigeria. As a result of the linguistically diverse nature of the country, it has rich cultural diversity.
Even though the official language is English, it is not used frequently by rural communities, especially among persons with low educational qualifications or backgrounds. Other major languages spoken in the country include; Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ibibio, Tiv, Fulfude, and the Kanuri. Other languages used in the country are the sign languages which include the Hausa and Bura sign languages among others.
In as much as the government of Nigeria uses the English language as its main language for official messages and other communique, the Nigerian dialect is incorporated into the English language and is termed as the ‘Nigerian English’. Nigerian English is also used in schools as the primary media of instruction. English is expressed by about eighty million Nigerians especially in urban settings, such as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Nigeria’s Indigenous Languages
The Hausa language which is one of the most prominent native languages within the country is expressed by over 30 million persons as their indigenous language, with about 20 million persons speaking it as their second dialect. This is mostly because the Hausa is of the Afroasiatic language family in the Chadic branch which is among the largest in the region. Inasmuch as there are several languages in the Hausa dialects, only the Karanci and the Dauranchi are regarded as standard dialects.
The Igbo language is another major indigenous language in Nigeria. The language is from the Niger-congo family and has a whopping 24 million native speakers within and outside the country. With over 20 dialects, Owerri and Umuahia are considered to be the standard and official dialects.
The Yoruba language which is a major Indigenous language in Nigeria has about 30 million native speakers within and outside the country. Drawn from the Niger-congo family, the language took many words from the Arabic family. The several dialects of Yoruba depend majorly on the region.
The country Nigeria also has several languages comprising both Regional, Indigenous and Sign languages. The regional languages in Nigeria are spoken in major protectorates within the country. They are the nation’s major native languages.