Possibility of adding more African Languages?
Hey guys, how are you doing I was wondering what everyone thought of the idea of adding more African languages or trying to get Duolingo to work on courses for them. There is only Swahili, and while that is amazing, there are hundreds of languages in Africa and there are many that should be on a platform which can allow people to learn them.
I propose the introduction of Xhosa, Zulu, and Sesotho courses, but that's just my own opinion. What do you guys think?
Or maybe something more West African like Yoruba, Igbo or Wolof? I probably wouldn't learn any of them but it would be interesting to try out the basics.
There is certainly a good 'economic usefulness' case for having courses in the major languages of Nigeria, as this country is rapidly growing in its global significance, and will probably continue to do so into the foreseeable future.
As you said they are so interesting but unfortunately I don't have time to learn
Mongolian is another language that would be cool to see on Duolingo, but that I would not be willing to spend the effort to learn.
I really want to strengthen my Yoruba. I would start the course immediately if it were on DL. I know people who would join DL to learn it. And 100+ people on DL have already asked for it on a previous thread. Yoruba dun un so! Yoruba is sweet to speak!
I didn't realize but yes, actually most of languages in Duo are Asian or European... I've never studied African one, I would like to know about them!!
Most of the native African languages are either Bantu (Swahili, Zulu, Xhosa, Setotho, Chechewa and Kinyarwanda), or Niger-Congo (Yoruba, Fon, Igbo, Akan/Twi, Wolof), or Semitic (which means Arabic is a distant relative of languages like Amharic and Somali. Arabic is spoken in many parts of Africa even though it’s not native to Africa). All of these languages are very different from most other languages that Westerners tend to learn, which makes them somewhat difficult to learn at first, but many of these languages are also highly regular and logical.
I haven’t learned a Niger-Congo language to the point where I can really comment on them, but I find Bantu languages to be very logical. Semitic languages (which I’ve mostly experienced by learning Arabic) also have a certain logic to them but it’s not as easy to learn that logic compared to the logic in a Bantu language.
Duolingo only offers Swahili right now. Swahili is a very pretty language and it’s a lingua franca in many parts of Africa. I think it’s a good introduction to Bantu languages but also to African languages in general. Try it out if it piques your curiosity.
I would LOVE to learn Amharic. I found a site where you can download a textbook, but I'm not big on learning from textbooks, so the most I can promise myself right now is that I'll get to it someday.
I speak a bit of Amharic, but would love to have a course to refresh, if only be be able to order the yummy Ethiopian food!
samuel.liff and DragonPolyglot and others- I agree with that- Amharic is one of the most amazing, beautiful, powerfully moving, poetic-sounding languages I have ever heard. Maybe my friend who spoke it had a particularly resonant voice, I don't know- but there's a language to paint a landscape with and have ringing out in the mountains. Wow. The script it quite something, too!
I would also like to learn Amazigh, (Berber), because I have friends who speak it.
Yess that sounds nice! I think after I finish Irish tree, I will try that:)
Actually, there are on Duolingo only five Asian languages, four Indian languages, one African language, two fictional languages, three American languages , one conlang, and sixteen European languages. I'm counting here languages that only available via certain languages and or only have the learning English tree, and languages that are available for English speakers.
Wow thanks for your information! I would like Duo to add not only African languages, but also endangered languages too!!!
Esperanto, High Valyrian, and Klingon are all technically conlangs! The difference is that I believe High Valyrian and Klingon would be considered "Artlangs" (these are made for some artistic purpose) whereas Esperanto would be considered an "auxiliary" language or "auxlang" (these are made to establish a shared language between two or more groups that do not already have a shared language).
Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, and Tamil. But all the courses besides Hindi are in the incubator and only for natives of those languages to learn English.
Actually 4 conlangs: in addition to Esperanto, the fictional ones and Modern Hebrew are conlangs.
Hebrew is a bit of a conlang. https://www.reddit.com/r/linguistics/comments/w9dve/does_modern_hebrewisraeli_count_as_constructed/
Uhhh I'd like Igbo or Amharic or Malagasy or Tamazight or Xhosa or Zulu or Fulani or Wolof or...
There should be more African languages on Duolingo. African languages are wholly underrepresented in most media, language resources, and in institutions. The use of English, Arabic, French, and Portuguese in Africa has marginalized the indigenous African languages. If Duolingo offered more African languages and the institutions in Africa use and promote them more, then more people would learn the African languages and elevate them for institutional use.
While I do want Duolingo to add Javanese and Balinese, I think they should add more African languages. In the meantime there are unoffical courses in the fourms people make as well as there are other sites you can learn them on if you can not wait.
Xhosa would be fascinating though quite a challenge sound-wise. We wait;-)
I'd be thrilled if they eventually added siSwati, but Zulu would also be great.
The West African languages would also be interesting due the number of speakers.
I'd also be interested in learning one of the Ethiopic languages (Amharic would probably be the most likely candidate), also because the writing system looks really interesting.
And let's not forget more [African language] -> English/French/Portuguese courses, since according to this analysis of duolingo users, many people in Africa either study the official language of their own country or that of their neighboring country and more people should have the option to do so.
So basically you need to suggest a specific language then people can sign up to that post. One post for many languages will dilute the votes. (Also multiple posts for the same language can be counter-productive)
You also need people who are fluent and literate in the language and English, who are able to do the work (have the necessary skills, access to the internet, time, etc), who are acceptable to DL, and who will work for free.
Great info! I'd love to see Duo make an effort to do some recruiting for some of these languages though. It's got to be possible if there's interest.
Trouble is this post is too broad. There needs to be (one) post for, say, Zulu and a clear indication of who is interested in it. And another for Xhosa etc.
I assume that most people have already clicked on the link you posted and upvoted the languages they are interested in. Most of them, at least the ones that might realistically be added in the future (I know my wish for siSwati is unrealistic enough that I won't make a post for it but voice my support for Zulu instead), already have their own threads. The only larger ones that don't have threads of their own yet are Fulani and Tsonga.
I see this thread as more of a reminder that there are people interested in African languages and that it would be great if some more could be added.
Yes! Thats how i see the original post, kind of reminding and gauging interest, and your post, Judit, helping people get where they need to be to do something with that interest. Thanks again!
I agree that a southern African language would be great. All South African children have to learn one at school to pass their school leaving certificate and there are plenty of bilingual speakers with abilities and willingness to create the courses. Take up would be higher than Swahili given the relative sophistication of the South African economy. Afrikaans and Zulu are both important business languages here, for example. Duolingo did suggest some time ago they'd add Zulu and then Afrikaans at some point. (Afrikaans another very useful lingua franca and relatively easy to add as there are loads of well qualified bilingual course makers out there). Xhosa also widely spoken - cynics here think we might be in with a good chance if we called it Wakandan instead (it was the language used in Black Panther) given the keenness for Klingon etc!
LOL. Then, by those standards, Zulu (and some other African languages) could actually be called Jawaese, as the voices of the Jawas in "Star Wars: A New Hope" are actually real, sped-up Zulu and other African languages speakers' utterances!
lol Xhosa is probably another of the Jawas' utterances. If my memory serves me well, I saw a video by a Xhosa speaker (not his L1 though) who mentioned he could understand bits of what they were saying... and I'm not 100% sure but I think he said they were speaking about quite philosophical matters! =D
Nah this blew my mind lol, this is going to be my party fact.
I came a cross that (or a similar) video! Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, understood some of the Jawaese as Zulu and picked up on a conversation about 'what it means to be a man'
Look! I found it!!!
And he speaks quite a bunch of languages, too! =O (English, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, Afrikaans, and German)
Trevor!! Come and volunteer in Duolingo, please! =D
For some reason i cant reply to Foblin, but yo IMAGINE if he was to get involved? That's a great idea lol
It would be nice if Afrikaans was added. I am not sure about the others, maybe the ones that have the larger populations speaking them.
There are more people in Africa than you might think. There's around 35 languages indigenous to Africa with more than a million speakers.
Based on the numbers I could find, Xhosa, Zulu and Sesotho have more native speakers each than Danish, Norwegian or Catalan, and more than Klingon, High Valyrian, Latin, Esperanto, Hawaiian, Navajo, Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Yiddish put together.
I agree that Afrikaans would be nice. It seems like it would be fairly straightforward to create, given how closely related it is to Dutch.
Number of speakers is an obvious factor but it is not always so important for many people... For instance, Hindi and Mandarin are truly big languages and they currently have 1.03 M and 3.45 M students, quite a "low" number if you compare with Italian or Korean, languages which are way smaller...
Number of speakers is indeed an important factor but I'd like just to point out that it is not the only one to make a language "desirable".
Shokolade that's great info, thanks.
Foblin, i agree. I'm travelling to Senegal and would love the chance to learn Wolof rather than French. I've found one resource for learning Wolof, and it hasnt been easy. Even if its not a full course, I'd appreciate if Duo offered some sort of basics/intro sort of situation to more African languages.
Is this the resource you found? When my niece went to Senegal for the first time she spoke Wolof, but no French. Since she got married she has studied French, but she and her husband met in Spain and spoke Spanish for several years unless they were in Africa.
There was no room below your posting to respond to you there, so I must do so here.
I am glad that the Peace Corps site looked useful to you for learning Wolof. When my niece was first in college there was no sign that she was going to become very interested in languages. My brother used to complain to me about how worried he was about her because all she seemed to do in college was to dance. She took all kinds of dance classes! He had no idea what she would major in or how she would make a living. Eventually she declared a double major in Italian and Spanish, but she had no teaching credentials. She got a job working as an assistant English teacher for the government of Spain and moved there.
I am not sure exactly when my niece started to learn Wolof, whether it was in the United States or when she moved to Spain. She was very drawn to the Senegalese community, which is how she met the man to whom she is now married. I believe she learned Wolof slowly, studying it while speaking it it in gatherings of friends. She definitely did not learn it simply for travel.
Her husband had been brought up speaking Wolof at home and French at school. He had lived in Spain for much longer than she had, but she had studied Spanish in school. So they spoke only Spanish together for years. Then she became certified to teach Italian and Spanish in public high schools here in the United States, so they moved here. her husband had to lean English from scratch, which he did.
She found that high school students do not all really love to study Spanish so she enrolled in a Ph.D program for Spanish and is now finishing that up. She and her husband have a new baby. They want the baby to speak Wolof to which her husband has an emotional attachment.
That is not the resource i found, but i will be using it, thank you! The one i found is "Easy free Wolof" https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sambakamara.woloffacilegratuit
Your neice sounds like a cool person. I want to be like her lol. Did she learn Wolof for her travels or did she already know it?
Mme. G - the replies are a bit funky, i hope you see this.
Way to make your neice sound even cooler lol. I wish i would have realized my interest in languages while in college as she did. And kudos to your brother for allowing her the space to figure it all out, despite his understandable concern. And to you for being there for him through it.
I'm in love with her/their story. If she ever gets around to writing a book, i'll read it. Maybe she'll write it in Wolof and i'll be able to read it by then! (Children's book?? For the bilingual Wolof-English speaking kids!?)
Im so happy they plan on teaching the baby Wolof! Super important. And im learning that immersion when learning a language is also important. She had a really cool opportunity, im glad she took advantage of it. She went to a new place and found and truly learned from people. A lot of people may travel but still stay inside their comfort zones. Im really inspired by her story. So glad it you decided to share!
the replies are a bit funky, i hope you see this.
It's one of the consequences of DL's cherised up-/downvoting system. It's supposed to be the bane of vandals, trolls, boring people, reiterative people and so on. It is supposed to be other things, too.
አማርኛ ዱዎሊንጎ ላይ የሚገኝ እንዲሁን እፈልጋለሁ
I want Amharic to be available on Duolingo
More languages to learn is cool but the problem is that it takes time and effort to make a decent course and people want it so much but the reality is that not all study the languages, look for example Swahili, a very important african language but it doesnt so popular...I would like more asian languages like malaysian or thai but the problem is the same as the african languages.
(sorry for my troubles in english it doesn´t my mother tongue and im trying learn it without google translate ^^)
Your English is so good that i wouldn’t have known better if you hadn’t said so
Based on the number of speakers I'd expect Hausa to be the next African language offered (~40mil native speakers, ~20mil L2), but of course there are other factors that influence Duo's decisions.
Yes, more African languages by all means!
Amharic, Somali, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Wolof, Xhosa, Zulu, Chichewa, Malagasy...
AND... I know it is probably unrealistic but I'd love to see here some of the so called "Khoisan languages" (not a real family but I guess you get the idea) =)
Just as a curiosity: a Duolingoer created this poll (after a previous one to select the most wanted languages) a few weeks ago. Many of the languages mentioned on this thread are in the list. :)
- The language more voted so far IS an African language! Ancient Egyptian =D
- Afrikaans is 6th.
- Zulu 8th.
- Somali 15th.
- Amharic 24th
- Xhosa 25th
- Malagasy is last with no votes yet...
Its almost as if the one person on this thread actively advocating against adding more african languages thinks their opinion matters more than everybody else!
I say so because their question of "why add more african languages" has been answered numerous times, with that persons best response essentially being 'those reasons dont make sense, my reason is better' ......meanwhile this poll shows great interest in multiple african languages.
Thanks for sharing!
And since they already have Navajo and Hawaiian (Pidgin?), how about adding Quechua and Kalaallisut? While we're at it how about Tagalog? Most of us here are Americans and I'm sure many people would find those languages useful. It might also be easier to find people to write the courses.
I want Afrikaans, eventhough many might not consider it an African language.
Kinda of along the lines of this is more Native American languages like Nahuatl or Quechua
I personally would Love to have more African languages and learn from them!
DragonPolyglot I've given you a lingot because you do talk sense.
There are some weird ideas about Africa and African languages in this discussion. Africa is an absolutely huge continent with recognised hundreds of languages, and as Dragon says from different linguistic families. They are totally unlike European languages in sounds (lots of double plosives, some tonal and some with complicated clicks that mean different things)
As someone who has actually lived in 2 W African countries and learned some of the languages I would suggest caution in learning an African language "just because it's cool"- I don't want to dampen enthusiaism. But a few phrases on Duo is not really "learning" the language. African languages are usually tightly bound up with the culture . Ask yourself why you want to learn it.
They are not discreet to one country but cross borders (remember it was Europeans who made the country boundaries we have now - hence much of the problems that we have in some African "countries") So it's not like a language belong only to one country.
I worked for nearly 4 years in a small W African country half the size of Wales and it had 33 indigenous languages. So don't underestimate Africa or it's languages. Nor the size of the continent.
Most African countries mostly work with the lingua franca. To successfully learn an African language you really need to live there. I speak from experience.
Wolof is only used in N Senegal, and very much so in Dakar, the capital, but not in the S, the Casamanse region (where I also lived for a time). In Zuiginchor we never used Wolof, although there were some Wolof families - there were politics which I won't go into. So generally Wolof was kept for inside the house. We usually used African French, some Portuguese Kriolo and/or an indigenous language such as Jola, Manjaco or Fulani. Because there are so many small language groups, the lingua franca is always best to start with. Unless you go to a country where there is one predominant indigenous language
Sadly nearly all forgotten most of these languages through lack of use. You need to use a language every day to really learn it. But I was able, last year to use some Kriolo and African French with 2 refugees and their faces lit up because I was using it correctly - so maybe nit gone as much as I thought!
Some linguistic groups are happy for foreigners to learn their languages, but some aren't. You need to be aware of that.
Africans (is an amalgum of Dutch with indigenous languages), Swalhili, Xosa (take care with the clicks) and Yoruba are probably spoken by most in Africa (I need to check that out). Swalhili is not used in W. Africa and is limited in many areas. I once learned the basic greetings and some songs in Swalhili. Can't remember them now. You need to use a language to really learn it.
Yoruba is a fairly widely used language in Nigeria but in certain areas you would not use it - politically. I agree that Nigeria is growing economically in the south, but much of that wealth is creamed off by other nations sadly. The language of business is usually English. The N at the moment is dangerous.
I did some basic work in Yoroba and it is an interesting language - actually tonal, I discovered working with a Nigerian informant! That was exciting to discover.
So be sure why you want to learn an African language. To learn it you will need more than Duo and you must speak it with others to ensure you have the correct phonetics and grammar. You need to listen to it too. BBC Worldservice does some programming in some of the major African languages so will be helpful. Always learn from a native speaker to get the language sound and grammar correct.
If you do embark on one of the African languages enjoy it and the differences in sound, tone, grammar and the tenses, recognising that more than a few phrases are needed to really communicate.
I appreciate you taking the time to write this out and give really genuine and good advice and information. I learned a lot just from your comment and plan to use this information to learn even more - double plosives with tonal and other complicated clicks? Going to read up on that. Realizing ive never taken the time to actually understand how european colonization and borders affected language, lands, and people, etc. Whats going on in Nigeria that makes it dangerous? How is it being taken advantage of economically? Where is Zuiginchor and what are the politics of keeping Wolof at home? I could go on.
So yes, i screenshotted your whole comment for reference. Theres a lot of info in there. Thank you!
All languages are best learned by immersion, with native speakers. None can be learned fully on DL. We know this. Why caution prospective learners of African language to soul search why they want to do this? Yoruba and Igbo are tonal--so is Chinese. Xhosa has sounds that English does not have--so do Hebrew and Arabic. All languages have their differences and difficulties. Yet you are not cautioning Spanish or French or Portuguese learners to question why they want to learn them. Many Duolinquists do learn languages because they are "cool" and for the joy of learning, with the idea that knowledge is a good thing.
Yes, English in Anglofone Africa and French in Francofone Africa are used for international business, but many people in those places don't speak them. It depends on who you want to talk with, and about what. Languages are windows into cultures and ways of thinking and being, and rewarding just for that.
There may be more speakers of other languages near where(ever) we are than we might have expected. Certainly in the US there are many speakers of Yoruba, Amharic, Igbo, Woolof, and many others. And a little knowledge can spark a friendship. And youtube, music videos, movies abound in various African languages, and are useful resources. As for politics, this is so everywhere. I encourage people to learn the languages that draw them, and go from there. I speak as someone who began learning Yoruba when I went to Nigeria in 1989. I've gone almost every other year since, and I've made deep friendships with Yoruba speakers in Nigeria and in the US as well. And I still want to continue learning Yoruba, and would like to do so on DL too.
Good points, Osunsina. I have a friend, (see The Big Africa Cycle- the photos alone are an inspiration to visit the continent), who cycled from France to South Africa- down the north-west coast, through all the coast-lying countries of West Africa, then across to the east via the CAR and DRC, down Mozambique and Malawi and so on. He made separate journeys to do Ethiopia and Somaliland, etc.
He was particularly warned against travel through Nigeria, (and pretty-much most of the other places, too), but the only issues he had were in two of the countries that get more tourists.
I'm not sniffing at dangers- and I wouldn't want to wander into Boko Haram territory, for example- but I could easily get stabbed in my local seaside town here in the UK if I go to the wrong area at the wrong time, and nobody's going to post warnings about it...
Exactly, Woozlification! Arriving in Lagos without speaking a local language or getting met or knowing where and when to go would be like arriving in New York without speaking English or knowing anybody. Both dangerous. Speaking as a 30+ year New Yorker who learned the hard way to always keep my street defenses up when I was out and about.
I would rather see them strengthen some of the languages they already have, like the addition they recently made for Japanese, or making more courses for non English speakers, to make laddering possible for most languages.
Yes, indeed. I'm currently with Hawaiian and it still needs a lot of work (same with Guaraní and, I guess, Navajo) but I'm sure they are working on it and sooner or later all or most courses will get updated/improved/expanded... that depends on the team developing each different course.
My niece and her husband speak Wolof. I had been reading about it today because a discussion of Haitian creole on another forum prompted me to do so. The Wolof they speak (apparently there are several different varieties) is the Wolof spoken in Dakar. My niece is a native English speaker who did not appear to find Wolof difficult to learn, but she was already multilingual and was also in a situation where she could speak it with others. My understanding is that it is one of the African languages that has absorbed some French.
I definitely would want this. Especially Igbo. Though only because I want to learn this one.
I'd rather have them add the missing European languages (Bulgarian, Slovak, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian)
I would too, but African languages do need more support on Duolingo. In the meantime check out clozemaster and Memrise.
Me too! And site-wide support for dialects and regional varieties: Austrian and Swiss German, Moroccan Arabic, European Portuguese, Serbian and Croatian, Mandarin and Cantonese.
Yes, it really is time that Duolingo added a few African languages. I would love to have Zulu and Xhosa
I'd probably go for Zulu and something from West Africa to start with. Maybe Amharic as well though the alphabet might be a problem for that one?
I agree. Some of my family is from West Africa, so i would suggest things like Yoruba and Igbo
ADQyQ I'm giving you lingot because I love your story.
Many Senegalese travel to work. I hope the wee family do get to Dakar, have a swim in the sea, walk along the Corniche, visit Sangdaga market and explore this very varied city.
My son was born in Dakar in Clique Casahous. we travelled up from Guinea Bissau for a safe clinic for him to be born in.
Wow Moira thank you, i appreciate it! Especially after i just read and was in awe of your comment to dragonpolygot, i want to say i feel honored lol.
Thanks for sharing, i have no idea yet what i plan to do during my travels. But i love swimming, and walking, and markets are hreat, so thanks for the specifics.
Thats quite a journey for childbirth. Thats real love. How old is your son now, if you dont mind me asking?
I'd love to connect with you, if you're interested. You seem like someone I'd like to talk to and could learn a lot from. Not sure if theres a way to do that throug this app though.
I hate to say it but it seems unlikely in the near future given that the five most spoken languages in Africa are all on Duolingo already (Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Swahili) (my source on that information may be wrong but even if it is it is definitely true that with these languages one could travel most of the continent relatively able to communicate). I hope I'm wrong though
Personally, I think the Khoikhoi and San languages should be added before Xhosa, Zulu, or Sesotho; they are endangered and have some interesting features, like for example the largest number of sounds (including clicks, of course) out of any other languages on Earth. Teaching pronunciation might be insanely difficult, though - especially as some native speakers actually form scars in their throats from the clicks they pronounce since childhood (according to linguist John McWhorter). We already have a Niger-Congo language - Swahili - which still lacks audio for many sentences. IMO, this issue should be addressed before adding new languages with limited audio.
Arabic could be considered an African language as it is spoken across much of North Africa. However, I agree with you. Duolingo should.
Yes i agree they are adding very rare European languages now there are not even a lot of Asian languages it is so hard to find material for them.
I would LOVE if there could be a Wolof course, or Akan, Igbo, Yoruba courses.... sigh. One day. (There are TONS of people who speak those languages AND English, and who could contribute to a course!)
I imagine one could narrow things down by suggesting languages with some or all of the following characteristics: Large number of speakers, or spoken in an economically rising or otherwise prominent country. Sufficient number of functionally bilingual speakers who can also program (large number of well-educated persons). lingua franca of a large country or area. Amharic, Zulu, a major language of Nigeria (Yoruba, Igbo, or Hausa, all fit this description. Xhosa might have an edge in popularity due to the Wakanda connection. Kinyarwanda... maybe.
It would be great too to add Quechua and Nahualt Native American Languages
Duolingo should also add some East African languages too like Oromo, Somali, Amharic, Tigray etc.
Only tangentially related to this topic but I found this account of the development of ADLaM (the "new" alphabet of Fulfulde) both inspiring and a good reminder of the importance of writing.
For those interested in having the ADLaM fonts and/or the keyboard, follow this link:
I've just downloaded the Noto font, unzipped it and installed it. It works beautifully.