Languages of Tanzania

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Languages of Tanzania
Official languagesEnglish, Swahili
Regional languagesChaga, Makonde, Datooga
Sign languagesTanzanian sign languages
Common keyboard layouts
QWERTY
 
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Languages of Tanzania
Official languagesEnglish, Swahili
Regional languagesChaga, Makonde, Datooga
Sign languagesTanzanian sign languages
Common keyboard layouts
QWERTY

Tanzania is a multilingual country. There are many languages spoken in the country, but no one language is spoken natively by a majority or a large plurality of the population. The Bantu Swahili language and English, the latter of which was inherited from colonial rule (see Tanganyika Territory), are widely spoken as lingua francas. They serve as the two official working languages.

Overview[edit]

The Bantu Swahili language written in the Arabic script on the clothes of a Tanzanian woman (early 1900s).

According to Ethnologue, there are a total of 129 languages spoken in Tanzania. Of these, 126 are living and 3 are extinct. 2 of the living languages are institutional, 18 are developing, 58 are vigorous, 40 are endangered, and 8 are dying.[1]

Most languages spoken locally belong to two broad language families: Niger-Congo (Bantu branch) and Nilo-Saharan (Nilotic branch), spoken by the country's Bantu and Nilotic populations, respectively. Additionally, the Hadza and Sandawe hunter-gatherers speak languages with click consonants, which have tentatively been classified within the Khoisan phylum (although Hadza may be a language isolate). The Cushitic and Arab ethnic minorities speak languages belonging to the separate Afro-Asiatic family, with the Hindustani and British residents speaking languages from the Indo-European family.[2]

Tanzania's various ethnic groups typically speak their mother tongues within their own communities. The two official languages, English and Swahili, are used in varying degrees of fluency for communication with other populations. According to the official national linguistic policy announced in 1984, Swahili is the language of the social and political sphere as well as primary and adult education, whereas English is the language of secondary education, universities, technology, and higher courts.[3]

Additionally, several Tanzanian sign languages are used.

Language families[edit]

Major languages[edit]

Lord's Prayer in Swahili, a Bantu language that alongside English serves as a lingua franca for many in Tanzania.

Major languages spoken in Tanzania include:

Minor languages[edit]

Languages spoken by the country's ethnic minorities include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tanzania". Ethnologue. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Languages of Tanzania". Ethnologue. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  3. ^ J. A. Masebo & N. Nyangwine: Nadharia ya lugha Kiswahili 1. S. 126, ISBN 978-9987-676-09-5

External links[edit]