Nigerian languages


A total of over 206,000,000 people call Nigeria home, and they all speak unique languages. This country is home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, each with its own history, customs, and language. The number of languages spoken in Nigeria is a topic of much curiosity. The number of languages represented is substantial, however the list can be simplified by categorizing them into a few major categories. Information Guide Nigeria

One of the places with deep cultural roots is Nigeria. Many different groups of people call this place home. Read on if you’re curious about the linguistic diversity of Nigeria.

List of languages in Nigeria and their states

Nigeria is one of the most linguistically diverse countries on planet Earth. The country’s official language is English, but it is not most people’s mother tongue.

Classification of languages in Nigeria

There are over 250 languages in Nigeria, but they are divided into three main groups, as shown in the table below. NYSC portalMain groupSub-groupsNiger-CongoMande, Kordofanian, Atlantic, Ijoid, Kru, Gur, Adamawa-Ubangi, Kwa, and Benue-CongoNilo-SaharanKanuri, Bagirmi and ZermaAfro-AsiaticHausa, Margi, and Bade, among others

Major languages in Nigeria

The list of languages in Nigeria is quite long. Some are more widely spoken than others. Below are the most commonly spoken ones and their states.

Hausa

The majority of Nigerians are of the Hausa ethnicity, and their language is the most widely spoken in the country. The majority of Hausa people adhere to Islam.

The Hausa language is the native tongue of about 20% of Nigerians. Many people in the country use it as their second language.

The northern section of the country is dominated by the Hausa people. Consequently, the states of Kaduna, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto play host to the vast majority of these people. Foreign and domestic media outlets like BBC Hausa, Africa Magic, and Arewa all broadcast in the language. 

Igbo

On the list of the top 10 languages spoken in Nigeria, Igbo ranks second. The Igbo language is spoken by almost 20 million people.

A number of famous authors, including Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, and Cyprian Ekwensi, hail from this area. There is a developing collection of writing that works to document and perpetuate the culture of the area.

The majority of Igbo live in the southeast of Nigeria. As a result, the states of Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, and Imo are where you’re most likely to encounter them. There are also the states of Bayelsa, Cross River, River State, and Akwa Ibom.

Yoruba

A member of one of Nigeria’s three largest ethnic groups, the Yoruba. This ethnic group is also present in northern Togo and Benin.

In the present day, the Yoruba population is estimated to be around 20 million strong. They predominate in the southwest of the United States. They are located in the states of Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Lagos, Oyo, Kwara, and Osun. This is a language spoken in some parts of Kogi State. 

Fulfulde

Fulfulde is also known as Fula or Fulani language. About 65 million people from West Africa use this dialect.

The tongue is mainly used in Kano, Katsina, Jos plateau, Bororo, Zaria, Maiduguri, and Sokoto states. Most people who speak it are Muslim.

Kanuri

There are over 3 million Nigerians who us the Kanuri dialect. Kanuri is mainly spoken mostly in Borno, Gombe, Yobe, and Jigawa states. About 500k others use it as a second tongue.

Ijaw/ Ijo

About two million people speak Ijo, making it the smallest subgroup of the Niger-Congo language family. The majority of this population lives in the slim delta region of the Niger River’s coast. States of Delta, Ondo, Bayelsa, and Ekiti all have them.

Pidgin English

Pidgin English is a blend of English and ethnic Nigerian languages. Its origin can be traced to the 17th century. It started as a lingua franca for trade between Nigerians and Portuguese merchants.

There about 30 million speakers of this dialect in the country, and it is mostly spoken in the Niger Delta region.

Tiv

Tiv is a dialect of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo linguistic family. The Tiv community is mainly found on both sides of the Benue River.

About 2 million people speak this language, and they mainly reside in Benue State. They are also widespread in Nassarawa, Plateau, and Taraba

Ibibio

Ibibio is a dialect spoken in southeastern part of the country, particularly in Cross River and Akwa Ibom states. The Ibibio community is divided into Efik, Enyong, Eket, Andoni-Ibeno, Anang, and Ibibio proper.

Edo

Edo is a dialect spoken by approximately one million people. Most of its native speakers are found in Edo State in the southern part of the country. Members of this community can also be found in Bini, Benin, Oviedo, and Addo.

How many tribes are in Nigeria?

There are about 371 tribes in the country. The three largest are Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba.

How many languages are spoken in Nigeria?

Over 520 languages are spoken in the country. Many of them are of the Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, and Niger-Congo linguistic families.

What are the 3 major languages in Nigeria?

The three major languages in Nigeria are Hausa, Yoruba, and English. English is the official language and is mainly used in urban areas.

Which state has the highest number of languages in Nigeria?

With more than 60 languages, Bauchi State has the most dialects in the nation. Fulfulde and Hausa are the two main ones, some of which are more prevalent than others.

How many languages do we have in Nigeria?

More than 500 distinct languages are spoken 

We hope this article answers the question, “How many languages are spoken in Nigeria?” for you. Over 206 million people call this linguistically varied country home, and English is the de facto national language.

Published by Ernest I.

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