The place to Explore Benin and its Culture
Benin, a country with about 12 millions habitants, is home to 54 living languages.
According to research made by the Ethnologue, “The number of individual languages listed for Benin is 54.. Of these, 9 are institutional, 18 are developing, 25 are vigorous, 1 is in trouble, and 1 is dying.
The fact there are so many languages spoken in Benin is a testimony to how diverse the country’s cultural background is. This is also a great way to trace the roots and origins of each ethnic groups that are living in the country. Even with the usage of 54 living language, French remains to be the national language used followed by each Beninese speaking 1-3 additional language usually based on their ethnic background as well as the region in which they live full time.
For example, my mother is Yoruba from her dad’s side and Anii from her mom side. My father is Dendi from his dad side whereas as his mom is Peuhl from Mali. I grew up on the south of Benin where Fon & Mina is the language I was most exposed to. In school, I learned French, then picked on Spanish and English by the time I reached high school. So as a Beninese, I therefore have been exposed to 9 languages before I became a teenager. I speak 5 (Dendi, Yoruba, French, English, Spanish) and the rest I can understand what’s being said and can manage to convey a message. This is a very common aspects of many Beninese people. They speak and understand more than 2 languages on an average, In addition, I don’t accept one of my heritage more than the others. I accept them all equally and embrace them with pride.
Here are the 54 Spoken languages and a map showing each region in which those languages are spoken.
Out of the 54 languages, French is the National language followed by the 8 most commonly known ethnic languages which are Baatonum, Dendi, Fon,Gen, Hausa, Tem ,Waama and Yoruba. Those commonly spoken regional languages are spoken based on the largest ethnic group within the region and are institutionalized.
Each language come with it own unique tonality. Some of them are mixtures of different languages turning them more into dialects and one trained ear can hear the different accents and tonality used in order to determine where the roots of the mixture.
The best part is with the presence of the different languages, no conflict have been created among civilians. They are respectful of each languages and do their best to learn key phrases and words in order to facilitate communication and conversation.