Languages of the African Union

The languages of the African Union are languages used by citizens within the member states of the African Union (AU). For languages of the institution, see African Union: Languages.

Overview

The African Union has defined a number of languages as working languages including Arabic, English, French and Portuguese as well as African languages if possible.[1] The prominence of Arabic in many African countries is due to the Arab expansion into Africa from the 7th century, with subsequent Arabization of local populations. Indo-European languages were introduced during the European colonisation from the 15th century.

In 2001, the AU created the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) to harmonize the various languages across the continent and safeguard any that are on the verge of becoming extinct. To that end, the AU declared 2006 the Year of African Languages.[2][3] 2006 also marked Ghana's 55th anniversary since it founded the Bureau of Ghana Languages originally known as Gold Coast Vernacular Literature Bureau.

Languages of AU states

See also

References

  1. ^ "Constitutive Act of the African Union" (PDF). African Union. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Ethiopia: AU Launches 2006 As Year of African Languages". AllAfrica.com. 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-30.
  3. ^ Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (2006). "The Year of African Languages (2006) - Plan for the year of African Languages - Executive Summary". Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa. Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-09-30.

External links

African Union

The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa, with exception of various territories of European possessions located in Africa. The bloc was founded on 26 May 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and launched on 9 July 2002 in South Africa. The intention of the AU is to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa by 32 signatory governments. The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states. The AU's secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa.

The African Union has an area of around 29 million km2 (11 million sq mi) and includes popular world landmarks, including the Sahara and the Nile. The primary languages spoken include Arabic, English, French and Portuguese and the languages of Africa. Within the African Union, there are official bodies such as the Peace and Security Council and the Pan-African Parliament.

Languages of Africa

The languages of Africa are divided into six major language families:

Afroasiatic languages are spread throughout Western Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and parts of the Sahel.

Austronesian languages are spoken in Madagascar.

Indo-European languages are spoken in South Africa and Namibia (Afrikaans, English, German) and are used as lingua francas in the former colonies of Britain and Liberia (English), former colonies of France and of Belgium (French), former colonies of Portugal and remaining Afro-Portuguese islands (Portuguese), former colonies of Italy (Italian), former colonies of Spain (Spanish) and the current Spanish territories of Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary Islands (Spanish).

Niger–Congo languages (Bantu and non-Bantu) cover West, Central, Southeast and Southern Africa.

Nilo-Saharan languages (unity debated) are spoken from Tanzania to Sudan and from Chad to Mali.There are several other small families and language isolates, as well as languages that have yet to be classified. In addition, Africa has a wide variety of sign languages, many of which are language isolates (see below).

The total number of languages natively spoken in Africa is variously estimated (depending on the delineation of language vs. dialect) at between 1,250 and 2,100, and by some counts at "over 3,000".Nigeria alone has over 500 languages (according to the count of SIL Ethnologue), one of the greatest concentrations of linguistic diversity in the world. However, "One of the notable differences between Africa and most other linguistic areas is its relative uniformity. With few exceptions, all of Africa’s languages have been gathered into four major phyla."Around a hundred languages are widely used for inter-ethnic communication. Arabic, Somali, Berber, Amharic, Oromo, Igbo, Swahili, Hausa, Manding, Fulani and Yoruba are spoken by tens of millions of people. Twelve dialect clusters (which may group up to a hundred linguistic varieties) are spoken by 75 percent, and fifteen by 85 percent, of Africans as a first or additional language. Although many mid-sized languages are used on the radio, in newspapers and in primary-school education, and some of the larger ones are considered national languages, only a few are official at the national level. The African Union declared 2006 the "Year of African Languages".

Languages of the European Union

The languages of the European Union are languages used by people within the member states of the European Union (EU).

The EU has 24 official languages, of which three (English, French and German) have the higher status of "procedural" languages of the European Commission (whereas the European Parliament accepts all official languages as working languages). One language (Irish) previously had the lower status of "treaty language" before being upgraded to an official and working language in 2007, although it has been temporarily derogated as a working language until 2021 due to difficulty finding qualified translators. The three procedural languages are those used in the day-to-day workings of the institutions of the EU. The designation of Irish as a "treaty language" meant that only primary legislation (the treaties) was to be translated into Irish, whereas secondary legislation (Directives and Regulations) did not have to be.

The EU asserts that it is in favour of linguistic diversity. This principle is enshrined in the EU Charter (art. 22) and in the Treaty on European Union (art. 3(3) TEU).

In the European Union, language policy is the responsibility of member states and EU does not have a common language policy; European Union institutions play a supporting role in this field, based on the principle of "subsidiarity", they promote a European dimension in the member states' language policies. The EU encourages all its citizens to be multilingual; specifically, it encourages them to be able to speak two languages in addition to their native language. Though the EU has very limited influence in this area as the content of educational systems is the responsibility of individual member states, a number of EU funding programmes actively promote language learning and linguistic diversity.The most widely spoken language in the EU is English, which is understood by 51% of all adults, while German is the most widely used mother tongue, spoken by 18%. All 24 official languages of the EU are accepted as working languages, but in practice only two – English and French – are in wide general use and of these English is the more commonly used. French is an official language in all three of the cities that are political centres of the Union: Brussels (Belgium), Strasbourg (France) and Luxembourg City (Luxembourg).

List of official languages by institution

This is a list of official languages for significant regional and international institutions. Different organisations sometimes refer to their principal languages of administration and communication as "working languages", whilst others refer to these as being "official". No distinction is made here, except where an organization itself, distinguishes between its official and working languages.

Outline of Africa

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the continent Africa:

Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. It is famous for its savanna, its jungles, and the Sahara (desert).

Portuguese language in Africa

Portuguese is spoken in a number of African countries and is the official language in six African states: Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe and Equatorial Guinea. There are Portuguese-speaking communities in most countries of Southern Africa, a mixture of Portuguese settlers and Angolans and Mozambicans who left their countries during the civil wars. A rough estimate has it that there are about 14 million people who use Portuguese as their sole mother tongue across Africa, but depending on the criteria applied, the number might be considerably higher, since many Africans speak Portuguese as a second language, in countries like Angola and Mozambique, where Portuguese is an official language, but also in countries like South Africa and Senegal, thanks to migrants coming from Portuguese speaking countries. Some statistics claim that there are over 30 million Portuguese speakers in the continent. Like French and English, Portuguese has become a post-colonial language in Africa and one of the working languages of the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Portuguese co-exists in Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Principe with Portuguese-based creoles (Upper Guinea and Gulf of Guinea Creoles), and in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau with autochthonous African languages (mainly Niger–Congo family languages).

In Africa, the Portuguese language experiences pressure and possibly competition from French and English. Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and São Tomé and Príncipe are all members of La Francophonie and Mozambique is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and has observer status at La Francophonie. Conversely, Equatorial Guinea has announced its decision to introduce Portuguese as its third official language, in addition to Spanish and French, and has made a request for membership in the CPLP. Mauritius and Senegal have also joined the CPLP as associate observer members.

Swahili language

Swahili, also known as Kiswahili (translation: language of the Swahili people), is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people. It is a lingua franca of the African Great Lakes region and other parts of eastern and south-eastern Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Comorian, spoken in the Comoros Islands is sometimes considered to be a dialect of Swahili, though other authorities consider it a distinct language.The exact number of Swahili speakers, be it native or second-language speakers, is unknown and a matter of debate. Various estimates have been put forward and they vary widely, from 100 million to over 150 million. Swahili serves as a national language of four nations: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and the DRC. Shikomor, the official language in Comoros and also spoken in Mayotte (Shimaore), is related to Swahili. Swahili is also one of the working languages of the African Union and officially recognised as a lingua franca of the East African Community. South Africa legalized the teaching of Swahili in South African schools as an optional subject to begin in 2020.A significant fraction of Swahili vocabulary derives from Arabic, in part conveyed by Arabic-speaking Muslim inhabitants. For example, the Swahili word for "book" is kitabu, traceable back to the Arabic word كتاب kitāb (from the root k-t-b "write"). However, the Swahili plural form of this word ("books") is vitabu, rather than the Arabic plural form كتب kutub, following the Bantu grammar in which ki- is reanalysed as a nominal class prefix, whose plural is vi-.

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