One of the most unique varied and beautiful regions of the world is the continent of Africa. Full of customs and traditions, Africa is famous for its different cultures, varied people and of course scenic natural and man made structures. It is also famous for its abundant resources- natural and man made. It is also a great hub for investment.
Africa is also famous for the sheer amount of languages that are spoken in its boundaries. These languages are distinct in nature and are often exclusive to the continent. However that doesn’t make them any less important as Africa is a golden continent where opportunity exists in plenty. This is why a number of translation services currently are on a lookout for people who are fluent in African languages. These services include Indian based services such as Translation services in Mumbai as well as international services.
It is rather impossible to count the total number of languages spoken in Africa due to the sheer number and lack of necessary technology, however it is estimated that Africa is home to around 1250 to 3000 languages. All of these native languages of Africa are often divided into six major families, however many other families exist. The major families are:
- Afro-asiatic: Spoken in the North East, Middle East and Horn of Africa.
- Nilo- Saharan: Spoken in Chad, Sudan etc.
- Khoe- Majorly spoken in Namibia and Botswana
- Niger-Congo- Spoken in Southeast, Southern and West Central Africa
- Austronesian- Common in Madagascar
- Indo-European- Common on the Southern tip of the landmass.
There are many languages that are not related to these or other minor families. Many other languages are yet to be classified. Many sign languages also exist in isolation.
What makes languages of Africa unique is the continent’s extensive history. Foreign invaders, traders, workers and others have influenced the languages of Africa in many ways. Often the contact resulted into amalgamation of different languages resulting in creation of new dialects and languages. For instance many African languages have influence of Indian languages such as Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi and many others.
Most of the nations in Africa once were under colonialists. Many of these former colonies selected the language of the colonialists for the purpose of national unity. However recently, many nations have been supporting the idea of multiculturalism and multilingualism to promote cultural and linguistic diversity. Many policies have been developed to preserve and promote the distinct characteristics of the languages.
One of the most peculiar qualities of African linguistic system includes the high amount of tonal languages. Khoi-san phyla and Nilo-Saharan are fully tonal. The tonal melody plays an important role in most of these languages. Syntactically too, African languages have many peculiar characteristics that often confuse new speakers or learners. However trained professional at places like translation services in Mumbai and many other cities are well acquainted with all the different shades of the languages and thus are a reliable source for many.