Tuesday, November 28, 2023

What Language Speak In Nigeria

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Top 10 Most Spoken Languages In Nigeria: An Introduction To All Languages In Nigeria

Speaking indigenous languages in contemporary Nigeria – Yetunde Ayeni Babaeko

Introducing the Giant of Africa, Nigeria! Home to hundreds of diverse cultures, butterfly species, and rich films, you might still wonder what languages people speak in Nigeria? How many Nigerian languages are there?

Nigeria has over 525 languages spoken, making it one of the world’s most linguistically varied countries. Bringing Nigeria in the spotlight, Nigeria ranked third on the list of countries with the most spoken languages in the world. An intriguing linguistic study indeed!

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Foreign Countries Where Nigerian Languages Are Spoken

We take a look at the international countries where the three major indigenous languages can actually come in handy.

  • Nigeria has three major languages – Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa.
  • Over the years, these three have spread to several places around the world.
  • These countries include Brazil, Sudan, United States, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Nigeria is a diverse place filled with various tribal groups and indigenous languages. Buzz Nigeria reports that this West African country holds the third position on the list of nations with the most languages. These include Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa.

Over the years, these languages have managed to travel outside the country. This is due to several reasons like the trans-Atlantic slave trade, immigration, and cattle grazing.

As a result of these factors, languages that were primarily spoken by just Nigerians are now being spoken in communities all over the world.

Here are all the foreign countries where Nigerian languages are spoken:

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Africa The Caribbean And South Asia

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English is spoken widely in southern Africa and is an official or co-official language in several countries. In South Africa, English has been spoken since 1820, co-existing with Afrikaans and various African languages such as the Khoe and Bantu languages. Today, about 9 percent of the South African population speaks South African English as a first language. SAE is a non-rhotic variety, which tends to follow RP as a norm. It is alone among non-rhotic varieties in lacking intrusive r. There are different L2 varieties that differ based on the native language of the speakers. Most phonological differences from RP are in the vowels. Consonant differences include the tendency to pronounce /p, t, t, k/ without aspiration , while r is often pronounced as a flap instead of as the more common fricative.

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Nigerian English is a dialect of English spoken in Nigeria. It is based on British English, but in recent years, because of influence from the United States, some words of American English origin have made it into Nigerian English. Additionally, some new words and collocations have emerged from the language, which come from the need to express concepts specific to the culture of the nation . Over 150 million Nigerians speak English.

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Current Status And Importance

Languages of Nigeria

A leading , French is taught in universities around the world, and is one of the world’s most influential languages because of its wide use in the worlds of journalism, , education, and diplomacy.In diplomacy, French is one of the six official languages of the United Nations , one of twenty official and three procedural languages of the , an official language of , the , the , the , , the , one of eighteen official languages of the , and the least used of the three official languages in the countries. It is also a working language in nonprofit organisations such as the , , , and . Given the demographic prospects of the French-speaking nations of Africa, researcher Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wrote in 2014 that French “could be the language of the future”.

Significant as a judicial language, French is one of the official languages of such major international and regional courts, tribunals, and dispute-settlement bodies as the , the , the , the , the , the , , the the and the . It is the sole internal working language of the , and makes with English the ‘s two working languages.

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What Languages Do People Speak In Nigeria

The official language of Nigeria is English however, over 520 regional languages and dialects are spoken throughout the country.

Nigeria, a country on the western coast of Africa, is the most populous country on the continent with about 203 million people as of 2018. It shares a border with Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin and historically was the seat of many ancient kingdoms. The country that is today recognized as Nigeria, with its current borders, flags, capital, et cetera, is the result of its status as a British colony beginning in the 1800s. It gained independence in 1960, and its modern history has seen much strife and bloodshed, including a long civil war. The presidential election of 2011 was the first one in its history that was considered to be a fair, democratic election.

As is often the case in countries whose borders were drawn by European colonial powers, the boundaries of Nigeria are considered by many to be artificial. Many ethnic groups exist within its limits, and many of them have territories that cross several different countries. For example, the Hausa ethnic group has a region that spans from Benin, across Nigeria, and into Cameroon. Many of the ethnic languages that are spoken in Nigeria are also expressed in neighboring countries.

How Safe Is Nigeria

Nigeria is a large, populous country in Africa with a growing economy. However, it also faces significant security challenges. The terrorist group Boko Haram has conducted attacks in many parts of Nigeria, and crime is common in major cities. Travelers should exercise caution when traveling to Nigeria and avoid areas where there is a risk of violence.

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Major Languages In Nigeria

The list of languages in Nigeria is quite long. Some are more widely spoken than others. Below are the most commonly spoken ones and their states.


Hausa is the most commonly spoken dialect in the country and is the largest ethnic group. Hausa people are predominantly Muslim.

About a fifth of the total population in teh country speaks Hausa as the mother tongue. A significant part of the population speaks it as the second tongue.

Hausa people predominantly occupy the northwestern part of the nation. This means they are mostly found in Kaduna, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto states. The tongue is used for broadcasting on local and international media stations, e.g. BBC Hausa, Africa Magic, and Arewa.

Igbo/ Ibo

Igbo comes in second on the list of the top 10 languages in Nigeria. About 20 million people speak the Igbo dialect.

Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, and Cyprian Ekwensi are among the prolific writers from this community. They have produced a growing body of literature that preserves the community’s rich traditions.

Igbo people are chiefly found in the southeastern part of the country. This means they are mostly found in Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, and Imo states. Others are Bayelsa, Cross River, River State, and Akwa Ibom.


Yoruba is among the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria. People from this community are also found in northern Togo and Benin.



Ijaw/ Ijo

Pidgin English


A Quick Look Into The History Of Nigerian Languages

White Guy Shocks Nigerians by Speaking African Language

As is so often the case, theres plenty of history and politics involved when you begin to look at the languages of Nigeria. For example, the Nigerian official language is English, as a result of former colonial rule. Its used for education and by the government and is spoken as a second language by some 60 million Nigerians. However, it is not widely spoken natively across the whole country. In the northeast, for example, only 1% of the population speaks Nigerias official language natively.

In terms of native speaker numbers, several languages that have been around for thousands of years are the dominant languages in Nigeria. Some of the most widely spoken include Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo.

Nigerias history has also led to the evolution of Nigerian Pidgin, which is an English-based creole. With around 30 million speakers, it serves as a lingua franca, alongside Nigerian Standard English.

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The Languages In Nigeria

I want to look now at some of the major languages in Nigeria, aside from English as the Nigerian national language. I should start by saying that accurate speaker numbers are notoriously hard to obtain when it comes to the languages of Nigeria, so the numbers below should be seen as broadly indicative.

Its also worth noting that not all languages in Nigeria are written. The country is also home to three sign languages: Nigerian Sign Language, Hausa Sign Language and Bura Sign Language.

They may not be official languages of Nigeria, but some of the countrys most widely spoken languages include:

Hausa 52 million speakers. Hausa is spoken largely by Nigerias Muslim population and predominantly in the north of the country.

Yoruba 44 million speakers. Nigerians have spread the use of Yoruba around the world, as well as speaking it in Nigeria. The language has spread so much that globally it is the most spoken Nigerian language.

Igbo 40 million speakers. Igbo is widely spoken in Nigeria, as well as increasingly in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, with Nigerian migrants spreading its use to those countries.

Fulfulde 15 million speakers. Fulfulde is spoken mainly in northern Nigeria by the Fulani diaspora, as well as across the Sahel.

Kanuri 10 million speakers. Kanuri has two main dialects and three tones .

Tiv 4 million speakers. Tiv is the largest of the Tivoid group of languages. It is spoken mainly in the state of Benue.

Australia And New Zealand

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Since 1788, English has been spoken in Oceania, and Australian English has developed as a first language of the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Australian continent, its standard accent being General Australian. The English of neighbouring New Zealand has to a lesser degree become an influential standard variety of the language. Australian and New Zealand English are each other’s closest relatives with few differentiating characteristics, followed by South African English and the English of southeastern England, all of which have similarly non-rhotic accents, aside from some accents in the South Island of New Zealand. Australian and New Zealand English stand out for their innovative vowels: many short vowels are fronted or raised, whereas many long vowels have diphthongised. Australian English also has a contrast between long and short vowels, not found in most other varieties. Australian English grammar aligns closely to British and American English like American English, collective plural subjects take on a singular verb . New Zealand English uses front vowels that are often even higher than in Australian English.

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Hausa Language In Nigeria

Hausa is one of the three largest languages spoken in Nigeria. It is a native language for the Hausa people, who are found primarily in the north and northwest of the country. Hausa is also spoken as a second language by a large number of people living in other parts of Nigeria, as well as by minorities in neighboring countries. In addition to being one of Nigerias official languages, Hausa is also used as a lingua franca throughout West Africa. Other languages spoken in Nigeria include Yoruba, Igbo, Fulfulde, Kanuri, Ibibio-Efik, Edo, and Tiv.

Using Common Naij Expressions

Nigerian Languages  News Of Nigeria
  • 1Double words to intensify their meaning. Naijá speakers say a word twice instead of using a word like “very,” as you would in standard English. If you double and adjective, it’s similar to adding the word “very” or “extremely.” When you double a verb, on the other hand, it’s similar to adding the word “always.”
  • For example, if you say “bad bad,” you mean that something is extremely bad. You could also double the Naijá word for “buy” and say “bai bai” for “always buying” perhaps to describe someone on a shopping spree.
  • You can also add “oh” to the end of a word or phrase to intensify its meaning. For example, you could say “nawa,” meaning “wow,” but if something really wowed you, you might say “nawa oh!”XResearch source
  • 2Add the marker “na” to emphasize part of a sentence. Because Naijá is a tonal language, you can’t necessarily use the pitch of your voice to focus the emphasis of your sentence. That’s where the particle “na” comes into play. Simply say it before the part of your sentence you want your listener to focus on.XResearch source
  • For example, if you were haggling price with someone at a market and they told you that perhaps someone else would lower the price but they wouldn’t, you might reply “Na you a de tok to,” which means “It’s you I am talking to,” with the emphasis being on “you.”
  • Tip: Use “na so?” as a reply when someone’s telling you something, to keep the conversation going and show them that you are listening and understand what they’re saying.

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    Connection To Portuguese Language

    Being derived partly from the present day Edo/Delta area of Nigeria, there are still some words left over from the Portuguese language in pidgin English . For example, “you sabi do am?” means “do you know how to do it?”. “Sabi” means “to know” or “to know how to”, just as “to know” is “saber” in Portuguese. Also, “pikin” or “pickaninny” comes from the Portuguese words “pequeno” and “pequenino”, which mean “small” and “small child” respectively.

    Three Circles Of English

    The Indian linguist Braj Kachru distinguished countries where English is spoken with a three circles model. In his model,

    • the “inner circle” countries have large communities of native speakers of English,
    • “outer circle” countries have small communities of native speakers of English but widespread use of English as a second language in education or broadcasting or for local official purposes, and
    • “expanding circle” countries are countries where many people learn English as a foreign language.

    Kachru based his model on the history of how English spread in different countries, how users acquire English, and the range of uses English has in each country. The three circles change membership over time.

    Three Circles of English

    Countries with large communities of native speakers of English include Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand, where the majority speaks English, and South Africa, where a significant minority speaks English. The countries with the most native English speakers are, in descending order, the United States , the United Kingdom , Canada ,Australia , South Africa ,Ireland , and New Zealand . In these countries, children of native speakers learn English from their parents, and local people who speak other languages and new immigrants learn English to communicate in their neighbourhoods and workplaces. The inner-circle countries provide the base from which English spreads to other countries in the world.

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    Indigenous Languages Of Nigeria

    As Nigeria is home to a diverse number of ethnic groups, so it would make sense that there are a variety of indigenous languages spoken in the country as well. Nigeria is home to hundreds of indigenous languages. In recent years, the federal government has been making efforts to promote the use of indigenous languages, many of which are endangered. Some of the indigenous languages spoken in Nigeria include Tiv, Kanuri, and Fulfulde.

    Official Language Of Nigeria

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    English is the official language in Nigeria. The language is used for all formal communication in government and is also the language used in the drafting of legislations as well as in the Nigerian judicial system. English is also incorporated into the education system of Nigeria as the medium of instruction. The English language was introduced in Nigeria by the British when the country was under British colonial rule. However, the language is only predominantly used among the residents of the urban regions of the country.

    Roughly 79 million Nigerians speak English, making Nigeria of the world’s most populated Anglophone countries in the world. The English spoken in Nigeria is a unique known as Nigerian English. It takes a great inspiration from British English and, to a lesser extent, American English. There are a number of phrases and words that are exclusive to Nigerian English.

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    What Languages Are Spoken In Nigeria

    Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with over 186 million residents. The country is also home to more than 520 languages, but there are many more languages which are yet to be classified. These languages can be classified into two main language families: the Afro-Asiatic language family and the Niger-Congo language family. English is the official language of Nigeria.

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