African Schools Weigh Teaching in Local Languages

DAKAR — In Alieu Samb primary school, in a working-class section of Dakar, second-graders are learning to read in French. Like most children in Sub-Saharan Africa, they are taught in their country’s common colonial language rather than in their mother tongue. Linguistics professor Mbacke Diagne, of Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University, wants to integrate local [...]

By |2017-12-09T20:12:25+00:00December 9th, 2017|Africa, Languages|2 Comments

This Documentary Uncovers an Afro-Cuban Community Singing in an Almost Extinct African Language

They Are We tells a story that, were it not told by a University professor in the middle of a documentary, you’d swear couldn’t possibly be true. Emma Christopher, who’s written extensively on the Atlantic slave trade and teaches at the University of Sydney, found herself connecting a remote chiefdom in Sierra Leone with a [...]

By |2018-02-22T00:21:53+00:00July 3rd, 2017|Africa, Afro-Cuban, Cuba, Language|0 Comments

We’d have a better chance of preserving Africa’s dying languages if we learned their history

In 2008, on his first visit to China and India after taking office as prime minister, Britain’s Gordon Brown announced a plan to promote the English language across the world. Brown said he launched a website that would develop the skills of 750,000 teachers, and help two billion people learn English by 2020. “English does [...]

Nigeria’s indigenous languages endangered, may go into extinction

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the country’s indigenous languages are endangered and could go into extinction in no distant future if urgent steps are not taken to reverse the trend. In his address at the 2017 Annual Round Table on Cultural Orientation, jointly organized by the Federal Ministry of Information [...]

By |2017-06-02T16:47:46+00:00June 2nd, 2017|Africa, Indigenous languages, Language, Nigeria|0 Comments

How the Swahili language took hold across Africa, and beyond

You may recognize this phrase. You may even find yourself humming an earworm of the same title from Disney's "The Lion King." "It means no worries" goes the song lyric. Disney fails to mention that "Hakuna matata" means "no worries" in Swahili. The language — known as Kiswahili in East Africa — has its roots [...]

By |2018-02-22T00:22:17+00:00November 23rd, 2016|Africa, Languages, Swahili language|0 Comments

For the first time, Chinese poetry is being translated into Kiswahili

Jidi Majia, a writer from southwest China, once described himself as a Chinese poet with an “African complex.” He emulated writers like Senegal’s Leopold Sedar Senghor, Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe, or Kenya’s Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, cheered for the end of apartheid in South Africa, and cried when Nelson Mandela died. “I embarked upon my literary career [...]

Revitalizing endangered languages for future generations

Linguist Bonny Sands speaks in clicks. The adjunct faculty member is an expert on click languages, and supports language revitalization efforts through documentation. Sands began studying click languages in 1988 as a graduate student at UCLA. When fellow linguists have questions about click languages, she gets an email. But the entire business of language revitalization [...]

By |2016-04-14T12:47:33+00:00April 14th, 2016|Africa, Endangered Languages, Languages|0 Comments

Online Dictionary Helps Nigerians Decode Their Names

The names given to a child by southwest Nigeria’s Yoruba people come with a certain meaning, which may be related to something like the time of year or to the circumstances of the child’s birth. While linguist Kola Tubosun knows the meaning of his name, many of the other Yorubas he has met do not. [...]

C’est impossible! French set to be the world’s most commonly spoken language by 2050

They've been defensive for decades in preserving the purity of the language of love from the threat of globalisation. But now it seems all will have paid off for the French, whose language is set to become the world's most spoken language by 2050, thanks to growing francophone populations in sub-Saharan Africa. While most eager [...]

By |2015-12-22T19:30:27+00:00December 22nd, 2015|Africa, French language, Language, sub-Saharan Africa|0 Comments

A new chapter in Nigeria’s literature

"When I started writing in the early 2000s, there were very few other young Nigerians being published internationally — Chimamanda Adichie, Helon Habila, Chris Abani and Sefi Atta,” recalls Chika Unigwe, the Nigerian novelist. “Farafina was one of the few local publishers dedicated to quality fiction, and you could count the number of literary events [...]

By |2015-10-06T13:18:23+00:00October 6th, 2015|Africa, Literature, Nigeria|0 Comments