How To Greet In Africa’s Top 10 Languages

Africa is home to the highest linguistic diversity in the world with over 1500 different languages. Even though the continent has a wide range of languages, the principal languages found across all 54 countries include Arabic, French and English.
Interesting facts to know about languages in Africa is that they form part of four language groups, namely Afro-Asiatic covering Northern Africa, Central Sahara and the Horn of Africa, Nilo-Saharan covering Central and Eastern Africa, Niger-Congo covering Central, Southern and Eastern Africa and Khoisan, covering the western part of Southern Africa. Arabic has approximately 100 million African speakers, with close to 54 million of them being from Egypt, while English is spoken mainly in Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The top 10 languages spoken on the continent, besides English and Arabic, are Swahili, Amharic, Yoruba, Oromo, Hausa, Igbo, isiZulu, Shona, Portuguese and French.

1. Swahili

Hello – “Hujambo,” but if you’re greeting elders or people older than you, say “Habari,” which also means “Good morning.”
How are you? – “Habari gani”
I am fine – “Nzuri”
Thank you – “Asante,” and “Thank you very much” is “Asante sana.”

2. Amharic

Hello – “Selam” or “Iwi selami newi.”
How are you? – “Inidēti nehi?” or “tenastalign?”
I am fine – “Dehina nenyi.”
Thank you – “Ameseginalehu.”

3. Yoruba

Hello – “Ẹ nlẹ o” for a general greeting; however, when greeting elders, the general greeting is “E nle ma” for women and “E nle sir” for men.
How are you? – “Ṣe daadaa ni o wa?” or “Bawo ni o se wa?”
Thank you – “E dupe” or “O se” or “E se.”

4. Oromo

Hello – “Akkam” or “Attam”
How are you? – “Akkam jirtuu?”
Thank you – “Galatoomi.”

5. Hausa

Hello – “Sannu” or “Salama alaikum.”
How are you? – “Kana lahiya?” when asking men and “Kina lahiya” when asking women.
I am fine – “Lafiya.”
Thank you – “Na gode.”

6. Igbo

Hello – “Kodi” for a general greeting. If you want to be more specific, say “Ibọlachi,” when saying “Good morning,” “Efife oma” when saying “good afternoon,” and “Mgbede ọma” when saying “good evening.”
How are you? – “Kedu ka idị?”
I am fine – “Ọdi mma.”
Thank you – “Dalu” or “Imela.”

7. Zulu

Hello – “Sawubona” when greeting one person and “Sanibonani” when greeting two or more people.
How are you? – “Unjani?” but when asking elders, you say “Ninjani?”
I am fine – “Ngiyaphila”
Thank you – “Ngiyabonga.”

8. Shona

Hello – “Kanjan” or “Mhoro.”
How are you? – “Wakadii?” or “Makadinizvako?”
I am fine – “Ndiripo.”
Thank you – “Tatenda.”

9. Portuguese

Hello – “Ola.”
How are you? – “Como esta?”
I am fine – “Estou bem obrigado.”
Thank you – “Obrigado.”

10. French

The most populous francophone country in the world is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where 40% of the total population can speak French.
Hello – “Salut” for an informal greeting and “Bonjour” for a formal greeting.
How are you? – “ça va?”
I am fine – “ça va bien.”
Thank you – “Merci.”

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