Africa is the second most populous continent in the world, with over 1.37 billion people, which makes up 17.4 percent of the world population. If you want to expand your business in Africa, here are the top African languages to translate in 2023.
Swahili is the most common African language to translate in East Africa. Swahili is the official language of Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It also has speakers in West African countries like Ivory Coast and Gabon.
Unlike some African languages, Swahili is a tonal language, meaning the same word can have two distinct meanings depending on your tone.
Swahili has its roots in many global languages like Arabic, Hindi, and English. It has a blend of Arabian dialects, English words, and indigenous African languages. Many consider it a colonial language due to these influences.
In regions with multiple African language speakers like Yoruba and Hausa, Swahili is used as a common tongue to communicate within these groups.
If you’re looking to expand your business to East Africa, Swahili is your go-to language asides from English.
Zulu is the official language of South Africa, one of the most significant African countries today. It is the mother tongue of over 10 million people worldwide, mostly South Africans.
Zulu has native speakers in South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Ivory Coast. It is one of the few African languages without Semitic roots.
Zulu belongs to the family of Bantu languages with influences from Xhosa, Swati, and Ndebele. It also has links to Kongo and Yoruba languages. It is a tonal language that uses specific sounds to portray different tones, making learning versatile and technical.
Due to the dominance of the Zulu people, it is a colonial language in certain regions. English speakers often find it easy to learn because of the similarities between the two languages.
Zulu is also common among people across West Africa and some parts of China and India.
Yoruba is a tonal language with numerous dialects belonging to the Niger-Congo language family. It is one of the official languages of Nigeria, the most populous African country and the seventh most populous country in the world, with over 200 million people.
Yoruba has millions of native speakers in West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, the Republic of Benin, and the Ivory Coast. Yoruba has links to other Nigerian languages like Edo, Fula, and Igbo.
Due to Nigeria’s colonization, Yoruba borrows many words from languages like English, French, and Arabic.
Yoruba’s popularity continues to grow worldwide, especially in African American communities in the US. It is a common language in Nigeria’s neighboring countries, where English isn’t an official language.
Yoruba has made its way to Western pop culture with shows like “Bob hearts Adeshola” and many others.
This is a perfect language if you’re interested in establishing your brand in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, and across West Africa.
Hausa is one of the best African languages to translate and the official languages of Nigeria and Niger, Africa’s two most populous countries. Hausa has about 60 million native speakers across Africa, including Sudan, Cameroon, Benin, Ivory Coast, and Ghana.
Unlike most African languages, it is a Semitic language common among West African and Sahel regions. It is also part of the Chadic group of languages. It is also similar to Fulani, Agnas, and Bole.
You can find traces of words with Arabian roots due to centuries of trading with Arabic merchants. Its vocabulary also consists of words of Persian and Turkish origins.
Most native speakers live in Northern Nigeria, which makes up a majority of the Nigerian population.
Igbo is part of the Niger-Congo language family. It is the official language of the Ivory Coast and Nigeria but is also well-spoken in Cameroon, the Republic of Benin, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.
The Igbo language has links to the Bantu and Arabic languages.
Igbo is among the most popular African languages, with over 18 million native speakers. It is a major language in Nigeria’s Eastern, South-Eastern, and South-South regions. It also has speakers in Ghana, Liberia, and Cameroon.
You must consider these popular African languages to increase your global brand reach in Africa.
At TranslateSwift, we offer African language translation services to help grow your brand across the shores of Europe or America. Contact us today to talk with one of our professional African language translators.