Friday, May 08, 2015

Second most spoken languages in Africa, part 2

This post will review in more detail the Africa information in Olivet Nazarene University's maps of "Second Most Spoken Languages Around the World" web feature. The previous posting on this subject gave an overview and pointed out some issues - most importantly the problem with assuming that official languages in African countries are the most spoken languages, and an apparent confusion between "second most spoken language" and "most common second language."

The following table is an attempt to review in detail the information that Olivet presented, country by country (for those covered). The object is not to be overly critical of this effort, which has the virtue of raising an issue that not many have considered, but to take the opportunity to look at this issue in more detail, since it is important in several contexts.

For instance, during the ebola crisis in West Africa, some outside aid efforts may have started from the assumption that the official languages are sufficient to reach wide populations, while others raised the concern that this is not enough (see previous post, "Speaking English in Rural Africa"). Yet as far as I'm aware, there were few hard data to indicate where and on what levels language was a critical gap in communication and public education. The information in the table below (drawn from sources linked in left column) would not close such gaps - it is on too macro a level - but it might serve to promote more thinking about what languages are most important in various parts of the world's second largest and perhaps most linguistically diverse continent.

Olivet's “Second Most Spoken Languages” per map (Africa only)

Review comments
(L1=first language;
L2=second language) 
Countries covered Language indicated Olivet's code ISO 639 code Olivet's comments
(Wikipedia / Ethnologue / Aménage- ment linguistique)
French Fr fr "The most common second language is French, which is used by many as a literal and figurative 'lingua franca.'" Rephrasing per the project title, French is the second most spoken language in Algeria (mainly as L2) after Arabic (including Algerian Arabic). Amazight (or Berber) languages, esp. Kabyle & Shawiya, are spoken by several million
Burkina Faso
(W / E / A)
Indigenous In - "Individual tribal languages are typically the most commonly spoken language in daily life." The Mossi language (aka Moore; mos) may actually be spoken by more people than any other language. Dioula (aka Jula; dyu) is widely used as as L1 & L2. Of this and the official French, not clear which is second most spoken. 
(W / E / A)
Indigenous In - "The most common second language is one of the many native languages of Cameroon, as very few Cameroonians speak both English and the country’s other official language, French.” The native languages of Cameroon would in most instances actually be L1s, not L2s (though some languages like Fula in the north, Pidgin in the west, and Ewondo in center, south and east also serve as L2s). Of those, and the official French and English, more work needed to determine ranking of numbers of speakers (L1+L2).
Central African Republic
(W / E / A)
Indigenous In - The most common spoken language, outside of the official languages of French and Sangho are native languages. Nearly all of the native languages of the CAR belong to the Ubangian languages.” It would be more informative to rank languages regardless of legal status.As such, Sango is the most spoken (mainly as L2 outside of Bangui), and French probably second most spoken (also mainly as L2). 
(W / E / A)
English En en English and/or French are widely learned and understood.” -
(W / E / A)
Oromo Or om The most commonly spoken second language is Oromo, spoken by 33.8% of the population. The second language is actually spoken by more Ethiopians than the official language (Amharic), of which 29.33% of the population speaks.” Based on this, Oromo should be considered as the most spoken, and the official Amharic (am) as second most spoken in Ethiopia.
(W / E / A)
Asante As tw The most common second language is the Asante tribal language, used by 14.8% of the population.” Asante or Ashanti is one of two literary versions of Twi (tw), which in turn is usually considered together with Fanti as the Akan language (ak). Akan is spoken by about half the population (mainly as L1), so may actually be spoken by more people than the official English.
Ivory Coast
(W / E / A)
Dioula Di dyu Dioula is the most common second language, as it is the most common of the tribal languages.” Dioula (aka Jula) is a historic trade language in the Manding group, mutually intelligible with Bambara. It is apparently widespread as an L2, though L1 speakers are relatively few.  However the number of French speakers - mainly L2 - is greater.
(W / E / A)
Indigenous In - The various tribal languages of Liberia are the most common second language, being the primary speaking language of many people, though they are often not usable in writing.” The native languages of Liberia would in most instances actually be L1s, not L2s. Of those, Kpelle may have the greatest number of speakers. Liberian English (mainly as L2) is apparently the most widespread.
(W / E / A)
English En en English is commonly understood among the educated classes, and in major cities.” lIn addition to Arabic, native languages include several varieties of Tamazight (Berber) languages, of which Nafusi (jbn) has almost 200k speakers (Ethnologue). How does that compare with numbers who understand English?
(W / E / A)
Chewa Cw ny Chichewa is the second most spoken language in Malawi and most common language in the country.” Chewa has more speakers in Malawi than any other language (counting L1 and L2). Using Ethnologue's figures, Tumbuka (tum) may be second most spoken, ahead of English (Tumbuka being mainly an L1 and English mainly an L2 in Malawi).
(W / E / A)
Bambara Ba bm The most commonly spoken language outside of French is Bambara. In total, 13 languages are considered official languages of the country.” Bambara is spoken by 60-80% of the population as an L1 or L2, which is more than the official French. 13 Malian languages are statutorily “national languages,” not official (See discussions in previous postings.)Of those 13, Fula might possibly rival French for 2nd most spoken in terms of number of speakers (Fula being mainly an L1 and French mainly an L2 in Mali).
(W / E / A)
French Fr fr French is a commonly used second language in business and government.” Standard Tamazight (zgh) is also official, along with Standard Arabic. Taken together, the number of speakers of Tamazight varieties (spoken mainly as L1) may rival that of French (used mainly as L2).
(W / E / A)
Emakhuwa Em vmw (& others) Emakhuwa is spoken by 25.3 % of people in the country.” Portuguese (official language) is most widely spoken, by about half the population mainly as L2. Emakhuwa actually has several varieties, which together are spoken by about a quarter of the population, mainly as L1.
(W / E / A)
Oshiwambo Os kj & nd The Oshiwambo languages are spoken by 48.9% of the country.” Oshiwambo language or dialects are most spoken, and of those, Kwanyama clearly has more speakers (mostly L1) than English (mostly L2). The latter seems to be the second most spoken.
(W / E / A)
Hausa Ha ha Hausa is the most commonly used language outside of the official language of French.” Hausa is actually the most spoken language, though its L1 speakers dominate in the south central region; it also has L2 speakers. French (official) or Zarma (dje; dominant in the west) likely would be second in number of speakers, though the former has more L2 and the latter more L1 speakers.
(W / E / A)
Hausa Ha ha Hausa is the most commonly used language outside of the official language of English.” Estimates of the number of English speakers (mainly L2) vary widely, with one question being how to count speakers of English-based Pidgin. Defined broadly, English would be the first most spoken. Yoruba may have slightly  more L1 speakers than Hausa or Igbo, but Hausa has many more L2 speakers than either of the others.
(W / E / A)
Swahili Sw sw Swahili is the most common spoken language outside of the official languages.” Kinyarwanda is L1 of virtually the entire population. French may be the second most spoken language. English (relatively recently made official alongside the two mentioned above) or Swahili would be third.
(W / E / A)
Wolof Wo wo Wolof is the most commonly used language in Senegal.” As such, Wolof should not be listed as second most spoken. French (mainly an L2) or Pulaar (a Fula language, spoken mainly as an L1) would be second.
South Africa
(W / E / A)
Xhosa Xh xh The most commonly used second language is Xhosa, used by 16% of the population.” Of all languages in South Africa, Zulu may be most spoken (L1+L2), with Xhosa, English, and Afrikaans following (although from older data, the order is hard to confirm).
South Sudan
(W / E / A)
Arabic Ar ar The most common second language is Arabic, a remnant from when South Sudan was united to Sudan." Dinka (all 5 varieties together; din) and Nuer (nus) are the first & second most spoken indigenous languages, mainly as L1s. The Arabic creole, Juba Arabic is important in part of the country, but its speakers may number less than those of Nuer. No clear figures for English (official).
(W / E / A)
Indigenous In - "Beja is a native Cushite language spoken by around 2 million speakers in Sudan, making it the most common second language." Beja (bej) may be the second most spoken, but mainly as an L1, not L2. Of the two official languages, Arabic is the most spoken, but no figures for English.
(W / E / A)
Arabic Ar ar "Outside of Tanzania's official languages, Arabic is the second most spoken language (widely spoken in Zanzibar)." Swahili (official) is the most spoken language. Sukuma (suk) may have more speakers (mainly L1) than English (also official; mainly L2). Despite its significance in Zanzibar, Arabic is not that widely used elsewhere.
(W / E / A)
French Fr fr "French is the most common second language and is used especially in the business world." Counting Tunisian Arabic and the official Standard Arabic as one, French is indeed the second most common language (mainly as L2).
(W / E / A)
Ganda Ga lg "Ganda is the most widely used second language, and is the preferred language for native publications." Ganda (Luganda) apparently has more speakers (L1+L2) than English (mainly as L2). However English is more widely used as an L2.
(W / E / A)
Nyanja Ny ny "Nyanja is the most common second language, spoken by 14.7% of the population." Bemba (bem) apparently has the most speakers in Zambia (mainly as L1 but also L2). English (official; mainly as L2) or Nyanja (mainly as L1), would follow.

A related post of possible interest: "How many people speak what in Africa?"

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