Languages In Nigeria

Languages In Nigeria

Nigeria is undoubtedly one of the world’s culturally rich countries, given its numerous ethnic groups. All these groups make up an estimated population of well over 200 million globally.  And there are no less than 500 different languages used on a daily basis among Nigerians. That is eight percent of the world’s languages and a long shot above the 200 languages spoken in all of Europe.

In early 1947, the English language was adopted as the official language of Nigeria above all its indigenous languages. At this time, Nigeria was subject to Britain, an English-speaking country. Therefore, just like other colonized countries adopting their masters’ languages, such as Senegal that speaks French, and Mozambique that speaks Portuguese, Nigeria adopted English, the language of their colonial masters.

The decision to choose English is not far-fetched given that Nigeria has 250 ethnic groups. Even though these groups can be categorized into three major ethnic groups, it was still difficult to choose one official language. However, a variation of the English language, Pidgin English, is also spoken among natives.

How Does Language Function in Nigeria?

While English is the official language, it is not the choice language for communicating in rural communities. As the official language, English was basically used in governance, academics, business, and media.  It was also widely accepted among citizens or groups who need to interact but do not understand each other’s language.

But over the years, more rural societies in Nigeria have come to terms with speaking English. In fact, parents and educational establishments all over Nigeria frown against the children (pupils) when they speak an indigenous language. The indigenous languages are referred to as vernacular. Parents and institution leaders believe that communicating in English helps to learn and understand better.

How then do other languages function in Nigeria? More importantly, how do people communicate in a country like this with its wide variety of languages? Language function in Nigeria can be examined using Nigeria’s three main regions. Nigeria was divided into three regions at independence. These regions are the North, West, and East.

Language Function in the Northern Part of Nigeria

The language most dominant in the Northern part of Nigeria is the Hausa Language. Hausa is by far the most spoken language in Nigeria, with native speakers of about 63 million people in Nigeria. Hausa was the official language common to the northern states between 1951 and 1967 before adopting English as the country’s official language. These northern states include Kano, Katsina, Niger, Benue, Sokoto, and so on. All of which are 19 states.

Another language common to natives of the Northern part of Nigeria is Fulani. The major distinction between the two languages is the location and the occupation of the speakers. The Hausas are concentrated in Nigeria and Niger republic. Their most dominant occupation is farming. On the other hand, the Fulanis are Nomads/Semi-Nomads spread across West and Central African countries.

There are other popular languages in the northern part of Nigeria. Some of these languages are Kanuri, Tiv, Fulfuide, Nupe, Jju, and so on. However, Hausa still stands out as the language that unifies the rural communities in the North. And as seen all over Nigeria, English remains the mode of administration in government and educational sectors, even in the North.

Language Function in the Southwestern States of Nigeria

People in the southwestern part of Nigeria are referred to as the Yoruba people. They comprise six states: Ekiti, Osun, Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos State. Along with English, the lingua franca of the southwestern people of Nigeria is Yoruba. There are about 41 million Yoruba speakers in Nigeria.

Even though states like Kogi and Kwara belong to the northern states of Nigeria, there are natives here who also speak Yoruba. While Yoruba or Èdè Yorùbá, is the term used to generalize the verbal interaction in southwestern Nigeria, there are subdivisions. Some of the divisions are Igala, Ekiti, Ijesa, Ijebu, Ilaje, and many more.

Language Function in the South-East and South-South of Nigeria

The southern part of Nigeria is divided into three regions. The southwestern region has been marked out for the Yorubas. Now, we can consider the other two, which are South-South and South-East. South-East states comprise Enugu, Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, and Imo, while South-South states comprise Delta, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Edo.

Unlike the Southwestern part of Nigeria, Southern Nigerians cannot be categorized by a single language, even though the most dominant language is the Igbo language. Many people make the mistake of describing them by this language. However, there are many popular languages in the southern part differentiated by region. Notable examples include Edo, Ibibio, Ijaw, and so on. This region is also the part of the country with the most speakers of Pidgin English. (Pidgin is the blend of English and ethnic Nigeria Languages.)

Final thoughts

All over Nigeria, English remains the second language. The push for the generalization of English, being the official language of the country, continues. But each of the three regions is pushing back to have their mother tongue function even in official settings.  This agitation can be seen in the recent growing dominance of indigenous languages in administrative and educational sectors. However, there are still other languages spoken in the country like Swahili, German, and French apart from the official/colonial language and the 500 different languages.


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Sub-Saharan African Languages: Are They Remote?

Sub-Saharan African Languages: Are They Remote?

Africa has a long history of being a multilingual continent. And as expected, these multiple languages are derivatives of the many cultures in the African space. Africa is said to be home to an estimated two thousand to three thousand distinct languages. One of the arguments for this linguistic diversity is the influence of European languages.

At the end of the 19th century, European countries targeted Africa. Before then, Africa was home to raw materials that many inhabitants and leaders were unaware of. The industrial revolution to source raw materials was a notable motivation for European colonists to troop into Africa. However, apart from the much emphasized economic factors, European imperialists impacted the cultures of the people. African languages were greatly influenced.

Alongside reasons such as European influences, historical developments also contribute to Africans’ vast and diverse languages. It is believed that Africa has been home to humans longer than any other part of the world. But then, this belief, coupled with the inability of the dominant cultures to absorb differing ethnicities over the years, explains why Africa has up to two thousand languages compared to Europe, which has just about two hundred languages.

This view is for a broad consideration of Africa as a continent. However, the vast language diversity is evenly spread across the five regions or sub-regions of Africa. The sub-regions of Africa are Northern, Western, Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa. All these sub-regions except Northern Africa belong to Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Distinction of Sub-Saharan Africa

Northern Africa identifies hypothetically with the Islamic world, Middle East, and Asia. Some people would even go a step further to refer to them as “European Africa.” Another obvious distinction of the laypeople in Northern Africa from the rest of Africa is their skin color. At times, they are even referred to as “White Africans.” However, all these hearsays do not make them any different from other Africans. But between Northern Africa and Sub-Saharan African is the Sahara Desert.

It can be established geographically that Sub-Saharan Africa is different from Northern Africa. The major peculiarity of this geographical difference is Sahara. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region of Africa that lies south of the Sahara Desert. Countries belonging to Sub-Saharan are 42 of Africa’s countries plus six island nations. Due to the skin color of the inhabitants, this area of the continent was once referred to as the “Black Africa.” And this was predominantly where Africa as a continent got the appellation “the Dark continent.”

The Distinction of Sub-Saharan Africa

Northern Africa identifies hypothetically with the Islamic world, Middle East, and Asia. Some people would even go a step further to refer to them as “European Africa.” Another obvious distinction of the laypeople in Northern Africa from the rest of Africa is their skin color. At times, they are even referred to as “White Africans.” However, all these hearsays do not make them any different from other Africans. But between Northern Africa and Sub-Saharan African is the Sahara Desert.

It can be established geographically that Sub-Saharan Africa is different from Northern Africa. The major peculiarity of this geographical difference is Sahara. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region of Africa that lies south of the Sahara Desert. Countries belonging to Sub-Saharan are 42 of Africa’s countries plus six island nations. Due to the skin color of the inhabitants, this area of the continent was once referred to as the “Black Africa.” And this was predominantly where Africa as a continent got the appellation “the Dark continent.”

Sub-Saharan African Languages

At least 1.34 billion people inhabit Africa. Eighty-one percent, which is 1.09 billion, of this population, are inhabitants of Sub-Saharan Africa. There are no less than a thousand languages among countries that belong to this region. Given that the citizens of Nigeria alone (a country in Sub-Saharan Africa) speak over 500 languages, allocating just a thousand languages to the region is believed to be a gross devaluation.

Popular to the sub-Saharan region of Africa are languages such as Swahili, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Wolof, Amharic, Shona, Oromo, Kongo, Lingala, Zulu, and so on. These languages are divided into major language families. These families are Bantu, Indo-European, Niger-Congo, and Austronesian. Excluded from this list are other popular African languages such as Afroasiatic and Nilo-Saharan, which are more popular to Northern Africans.

Are Sub-Saharan African Languages Remote Languages?

The term local or remote is often used in many African contexts. The main reason for this is the global racial disapproval of African depictions. However, the Sub-Saharan languages have not suffered a similar fate. Sub-Saharan languages are widely accepted. It is often asked if these languages are spoken only by the people living in this part of the continent. The answer is no.

Each of these languages is spoken all over the continent and beyond the continent. The Hausa language is a good example to consider. There are about 63 million people who speak the Hausa language as their mother tongue. And there are 50 million people who speak the language as a second language. This statistic goes beyond the natives of the northern part of Nigeria, where the language is most dominant. It includes foreigners in South West Africa and as far as Berlin in Germany.

What about the Yoruba language? It is spoken by no less than 60 million people globally. Apart from its widespread use in Africa, countries such as Brazil and Cuba are home to the Yoruba language. Swahili, Igbo, Yoruba, Pidgin, Kinyarwanda, Hausa, and other sub-Saharan African Languages have gained more popularity as they are recognized by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

African languages are not remote. In fact, they are quite widespread. Many people have not realized that some of these Sub-Saharan Africa languages have more speakers than European languages. More so, tertiary institutions all over America and Europe are offering courses relating to these languages and their cultural heritage.

Final thoughts

Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Northern Africa, is home to a vast number of languages. However, against popular notions, the over two thousand languages of natives of sub-Saharan Africa are not restricted to the locality of their most predominant speakers. Most sub-Saharan languages have more speakers than many European languages. This popularity has given them an edge in the global landscape to transcend the “remote language” label. However, sub-Saharan countries still use colonial languages such as English, Portuguese, French, and Spanish as their lingua franca.

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North African Darijas: Are they arabic dialects?

North African Darijas: Are they arabic dialects?

Arabic dialects are basically classified into two. They are Classical Arabic (CA) and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Classical Arabic is the dialect used to converse in Arabic gatherings. And being the dialect used to write the Holy Quran, Classical Arabic is widely referred to as the Quranic Arabic.

The MSA dialect was formed in the late 19th century. It was developed as the modern version of the Classical Arabic dialect. It is the official dialect of the Arab world. MSA is used in educational settings and across different nationalities. In its written form, MSA is relatively consistent across national boundaries.

There is another distinction based on regional Arabic groups. This form of distinction is independent of the two groups of Arabic dialects mentioned above. Against popular opinions, dialects that belong to these regional language groups are not described by modern state lines.

The primary factor for distinguishing a group in this category is the influence of a previously spoken language in the region. The region is formed by different Arabic dialects that are on the same borderline. Because of the proximity in cultures, they can readily understand one another.

Can North African Darija Be Identified with a Group or Region?

One of the regions is grouped by countries like Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania. In these countries, you will find the native Maghrebi Arabic dialect. Maghrebi Arabic dialect is also known as western Arabic.

Darija is said to belong to this Maghrebi Arabic Dialect group. This group includes Moroccan Arabic and Algerian, Tunisian, and the most distant Maghrebi dialect variant, Hassaniya Arabic. Moroccan Darija is known as the most difficult for speakers of other dialects to understand all these dialects.

The further you travel east, away from Morocco, the more difficult this dialect is said to become. Some Arabic speakers have even said that the Moroccan Darija sounds like a different language when they hear it. And some Moroccans insist that Darija is actually a different language.

Is North African Darija an Arabic Dialect or a Different Language?

Moroccan Darija has variant renditions such as ed-dārija, derija, or darja. It is considered a different language because it has been influenced by language mosaic. Still, many Moroccans insist that Darija is indeed Arabic. They acclaim that it is closely connected with classical Arabic.

Arab Muslims brought Islam and the Arabic language to Morocco in the seventh century. The Islamic conquest of the Maghreb region brought about this. Before then, Morocco’s population consisted mainly of Berber people. A population that has now grown to between 30 and 40 million people.

The term Berber refers to Amazigh people in the North African ethnic group. These people speak the Amazigh (Tamazight) language. These Amazigh speakers learned Arabic, the language of their then-new rulers. This naturally means their native Amazigh language influenced the way they spoke Arabic.

Darija’s unique features are sourced from the natural influence of the Amazigh language. Hence, North African Darija is an Arabic dialect. Since the Arab invasion between 647 and 407 BC, the language has witnessed more influence among the Amazigh. These new influences shape Darija into the way it is now.

How French, Portuguese and Spanish Languages Influenced the Present North African Darija

Shortly after the seventh century, rebellions were rising in the Arabian Peninsula. After subduing these rebellions, Arab Muslims went on to conquer neighboring territories. The territories they conquered comprised three continents.

Subsequently, there was the need for significant interaction between the Moroccans, Spanish, and Portuguese speakers from nearby peninsulas. Later on, in the nineteenth century, France’s interest in Morocco brought French influence to the country.

By 1912, Morocco was divided into French and Spanish protectorates. The Spanish protectorate occupied a strip of the Northern Coast. They were also on a strip of land called Cape Juby, near the Spanish Sahara. The French protectorate occupied all the land left in-between.

These colonial presences had a significant influence on Moroccan Darija. That way, you can draw a straight line between present Moroccan Darija words and the form of French and Spanish loanwords. While the influence on the language continued, Morocco gained independence. Their independence came in 1956.

Western Sahara remained a Spanish protectorate until 1975, when Morocco annexed it. Upon independence, Morocco’s official language became (Darija) Arabic. But by 2011, Amazigh was also announced as an official language. However, French is still a prestigious language among the Moroccans.


Until this day, many Moroccans are fluent in French, especially in the major cities. It is most commonly used in business, government parastatals, and Universities. This has resulted in the continuous influence of French on Moroccan Darija, especially their academic vocabulary.

Currently, in Morocco, about 65% of the population speaks Darija as a first language. Around 30% speak an Amazigh dialect as a first language. But the vast majority of the populace speak Darija as a second language. Modern Standard Arabic and French are both taught in Moroccan schools.

Modern Standard Arabic is limited to certain formal situations, media, and writing. Whereas, Darija is used for daily communication rather than Modern Standard Arabic.

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Can All Bilinguals Interpret And Translate?

Can All Bilinguals Interpret And Translate?

Many people can speak more than one language in this day and age. Reports show that only 40% of the world population is monolingual. Statistics also indicate that 43%, 13%, 3%, and 1% of the world population are bilingual, trilingual, multilingual, and polyglot. This means there is a high probability that one will be fluent in more than one language out of two random people put in a room.

The percentage of bilingual persons is the highest probability because of people’s proximity to two languages. The first language is often the mother tongue, while the second language is acquired simultaneously with the first. In many cases, the second language is a choice acquired later in life or because of a change of location. But does this necessitate that everyone who can fluently communicate in more than one language can interpret or translate?

The impartial answer to this question is no. While it takes a bilingual to interpret and translate, not all bilinguals can interpret or translate. The reason for this is clear-cut. Knowing more than one language is not all there is to interpreting and translating. There are specific skills necessary for language interpretation and translation.

Skills Required for Interpretation and Translation

The grammar usage of languages varies from one to another. And since the speaker and the listener might not have in-depth knowledge of each other’s language, it is the responsibility of the interpreter or translator to preserve the information being communicated between these people. By preserving the information, there must be no omission, addition, or other misleading factors that can alter the message. That is why being bilingual is not enough to handle an interpretation or translation job.

By reason of commitment to the daily output of their languages, interpreters and translators become proficient language users, well acquainted with translation rules. This is not common to bilinguals who only make use of the language for interactions. Through their commitment, interpreters and translators build an extensive vocabulary of their multiple languages. They can tell apart the different dialects and everyday slang even if the language is the same. Statistics show that English has up to 160 different dialects.

Another unique skill that an interpreter or translator requires is cultural awareness. An interpreter or translator must have theoretical and practical experience of both the language and culture of the target language and source language they have chosen. This way, they can easily pick up various dialects and become familiar with business and technical terminologies in a short time. Certain aspects of language can be challenging to grasp, such as humor and symbolism. However, they can be easily discerned through cultural competence.

Apart from cultural awareness, an interpreter or translator must possess good listening skills. Better said, an interpreter or translator must be an empathetic listener. That is, the attentiveness of such a person must function accurately and quickly. S/he must also have a well-functioning memory to pick up what is being said and what to interpret or write down.

Now, a common mistake employers make is using a bilingual employee as an interpreter or translator. That is why the demand for bilingual employees has more than doubled in five years. It is a mistake because the personality of an interpreter or translator reflects the enthusiasm for the job s/he is doing. Since bilingual employees are not familiar with the skillset necessary for being an interpreter or translator, they often do a bad job in their makeshift role. These lapses can be seen especially in their broken speeches. However, an interpreter or translator comes with an excellent rhythm and sense of delivery.

Interpreters and translators working in law or medical institutions in other countries need job-specific certification. ATA certification is the widely recognized proof in countries like America to distinguish interpreters and translators from bilinguals. However, one good practice common to interpreters and translators is to join professional organizations.

Concluding Thoughts

Interpretation and translation skills are beyond knowing more than one language. Interpreters and translators have to understand people, their tone of conversation, legislation, and bureaucracy. They must also be able to connect with the audience to get the job done within the cultural context. That means you cannot just allow a bilingual employee to do your interpretation and translation job. To book an Interpreter or Translator, use the quote tool to find out how we can help you.

The Advantages of Remote Interpreting: Telephone/Video

The Advantages of Remote Interpreting: Telephone/Video

 (Remote interpreting has only been around for barely a century. You can trace its popularity back to the advancements in technology after World War II. These advancements, especially in communication technologies, made remote interpreting jobs possible. Now, both individuals with interpreting jobs and companies offering robust interpreting services can efficiently enjoy remote interpreting services with the well-advanced mobile communication technology of the 21st century.

Suppose you have been caught up in discussions on technology advancement before. In that case, it is not uncommon to see people ask whether the technology platforms are replacing (as in the case of interpreting services) face-to-face interpreting jobs or are just providing new horizons for efficient interpreting services. In this article, you will find the true evaluation of why remote interpreting is advantageous in helping different parties communicate effectively.

What is Remote (Simultaneous/Consecutive) Interpreting?

Before you learn about the advantages of remote interpreting, you should know some of the things that remote interpreting services entail. Chiefly, remote interpreting uses the network services of telephone and web cameras/video to provide spoken language interpretation. The term “remote” implies that the interpreter uses an app or other equipment that allows them to be offsite. This equipment or gadgets is alongside the headphones used to listen to a speaker giving a speech.

If you are an interpreter, you are expected to carry out the voice translation verbally at the same time the speaker is talking. Hence, interpreters repeat the speaker’s words in the target language. Not only the target language, but you must also provide the representation of the speaker’s words in the same seconds they unfold. Remote interpreting services have been modified into different categories. Many interpreting companies have embraced categories of remote interpreting services such as Over the Phone (OPI), Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), Remote Simultaneous Interpreting, Remote Consecutive Interpreting, and many others.

There are notable differences between simultaneous and consecutive remote interpreting. Consecutive interpreting is unique because it involves taking notes. Here, the speaker is allowed to put together a sentence or two. These sentences are jotted down by the interpreter. After which, the interpreter reproduces what has been jotted down to the listening party. It looks a lot like translating, where the spoken word is associated with written language. Only that consecutive interpreting is an oral translation that occurs in real-time with when the speaker is making a statement.

Consecutive interpreting is estimated to be the most popular of all remote interpreting services. And in the early days of consecutive interpreting, interpreters could reproduce up to thirty minutes of a speaker’s word without jotting it down. They make use of only their “powers to recall.” But in contrast to consecutive remote interpreting, the compression phase or the use of “powers to recall” in simultaneous interpreting is not separate from when the speaker is making a statement. Remote interpreters interpret the speaker’s speech as it unfolds.

Pros of Using Remote Interpreting Services

Up to 38% of British workers are engaged in one form of remote service or the other. Consequently, there will be an equal rise in spoken-language assignments. The reason is that many companies are beginning to come to terms with the advantages of remote services. The first and most prominent advantage of remote interpreting services is that it makes communication effective and efficient.

Companies with refugees as employees and delegates have found remote interpreting services as a clearer and easier means of communication. Most of the platforms being used have functionalities that enable these companies to establish better relationships across language barriers with their refugee employees and delegates than in-person interpreting.

For instance, many video chat rooms such as Zoom and Google Meet have closed captioning. This captioning function allows refugees who cannot follow what the interpreter is saying, probably because of hearing impairment, to read what the remote interpreter is saying. Not only can closed captions provide written forms of the interpreter’s oral communication, but some platforms can also translate the caption into many other languages. This is just one of the many functions that remote interpreting services offer.

Other notable beneficial functionalities of remote interpreting services are their flexibility, handiness, and mobility. Let’s single out the handiness of remote interpreting services as it relates to its flexible use and easy transportation. Predominantly, all the skills and tools needed to convert a traditional interpreting service to a remote interpreting service are computer-related. In other words, when you have your laptop, you have about all that you need to function as a remote interpreter. But make sure the laptop has a well-functioning camera, microphone, speaker, and internet connection.

Remote interpreting services are affordable. As an interpreter looking to set up a remote interpreting job, the application, platforms, and other equipment needed to set things up are highly cost-effective. Remote interpreting services cut many costs, especially the traveling and housing costs of many in-person interpreting companies. We remote interpretation sessions (on-demand and booked) at our firm . And for organizations working in the humanitarian sector, you can enjoy our remote interpreting service for at a subsidised rate .

Final Thoughts

These advantages have already been well proven during the pandemic when face-to-face meetings, conferences, briefings, summits, legal hearings, depositions, on-site medical consultations are challenging. To bridge the language barrier during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual alternatives such as remote interpreting services are the popular substitute.

If you need support for a remote linguist diversity interpreter, check out the Crystal Clear Translation website to find available options.

Do you need a Remote Interpretation Quote?

Remote interpretation is an accessible upgrade to the traditional in-person interpretation service. It does not need to cost you your job. And if you are a business owner, you can pay less to enjoy more when communicating with refugee employees and delegates. You can use the quote tool to engage us by finding out ways we can be of help to you and your company.