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Languages spoken in Benin Republic

Benin is a West African country that counts about 8.7 million inhabitants according to the INSAE census in 2010. This population is unevenly distributed over the country’s 112,622 km² area. It is made up of nine sociolinguistic groups. Therefore, there are about sixty different national languages in this country. Which languages are the most widely spoken in Benin? This article gives details about these languages.

Foreign languages

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Several foreign languages are spoken in Benin. Thus, foreigners can visit this country in order to discover its cultural heritage without encountering any language barrier.

French

As Benin was previously a colony of France, its official language is French. This language is spoken in the media, administrative services and is taught in schools, colleges and universities. About 35 percent of Beninese speak French. Most of them are in cities, especially in Cotonou, Porto-novo and Parakou. It is important to point out that in Benin, all French speakers do not express themselves in standard French. “African French” is also spoken in the streets and markets. The standard French is spoken in public institutions and is used by the government.

English

One of the foreign languages spoken in Benin is English. Indeed, due to its proximity to Nigeria, English is spoken in some markets. Besides, this language is taught in several primary schools as well as in colleges. 

National languages

There are several ethnic groups in Benin and a national language associated with each of them.

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Fon

Fon is the most widely spoken national language in Benin. The speakers of this language are about 39.2% of the population. It is most spoken in the south and centre of the country. The high level of representation of this ethnic group is due to the fact that it includes ten sociolinguistic subgroups. Among these are Sèto, Fon, Goun, Tchile, Mahi and Tori. In addition, the national languages Aïzo, Wémè, Kotafon and Tofin are also part of the Fon sociolinguistic group.

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Adja

The second dominant sociolinguistic group in Benin is Adja. Most of the people who speak Adja are located in the south of the country, more precisely in the departments of Mono and Couffo. There are also several sociolinguistic subgroups within Adja communities. Some of them are Sahouè, Mina, Pla and Ouatchi. In addition, there are Peda, Xwla, Challenge and Popo, which are also dialects of the Adja language. It is worth mentioning that the Adja represent about 15% of the Beninese population.

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Bariba et dendi

Bariba is one of the national languages spoken in northern Benin. In the department of Borgou, there are many people who speak this language. Moreover, there are other kindred peoples in this sociolinguistic group. These include the Boo, who represents 8.3% of this group. In addition, Boko account for 1% of this ethnic group. The population of Benin is made up of approximately 9% of Bariba.

 

Furthermore, the inhabitants of some towns in central and northern Benin communicate in Dendi. This language is spoken by a minority, 3% of the national population. Moreover, Djerma is a language similar to Dendi. This dialect is spoken by about 0.5% of Beninese.

 

We hope you liked this article. Feel free to add any additional information you might have about this topic or your impression as a comment. In case you need any support for your projects in Benin or any translation/interpretation services, feel free to drop a comment or contact us, we will be glad to help you.

 

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