African LanguagesIn Africa, a great deal of different languages are spoken. No other continent has so many different languages. The variety of African languages is impressive. It is estimated that there are about 2,000 African languages. However, all of these languages are not alike! Quite the opposite – they are often completely different! The languages of Africa belong to four different language families. Some African languages have one-of-a-kind characteristics. For example, there are sounds that foreigners cannot imitate. Land boundaries are not always linguistic boundaries in Africa. In some regions, there are a great deal of different languages. In Tanzania, for example, languages from all four families are spoken. Afrikaans is an exception among the African languages.
This language came into being in the colonial period. At that time people from different continents met each other. They came from Africa, Europe and Asia. A new language developed out of these contact situations. Afrikaans exhibits influences from many languages. It is most closely related to Dutch, however. Today Afrikaans is spoken in South Africa and Namibia more than anywhere else. The most unusual African language is the drum language. Every message can be theoretically sent with drums. The languages that are communicated with drums are tonal languages. The meaning of words or syllables depends on the pitch of the tones. That means that the tones have to be imitated by the drums. The drum language is even understood by children in Africa. And it is very efficient… The drum language can be heard for up to 12 kilometers!