SOAS University of London

African Languages, Cultures and Literatures Section

Languages of Africa at SOAS: Hausa

Hausa is an Afroasiatic language related to Arabic, Hebrew, Berber, Amharic, and Somali amongst others. It is one of the principal languages of Nigeria and southern Niger. An estimated 30+ million people speak Hausa as their first language (more than any other sub-Saharan African language and more than many European languages). It is also spoken by diaspora communities of traders, Muslim scholars and immigrants in urban areas of West Africa, as well as the Blue Nile Province of the Sudan. Hausa is the most extensively researched of all sub-Saharan languages, and has a long tradition of song and poetry within a cosmopolitan Islamic culture. It is the most important and widespread West African language and is expanding as a lingua franca. Hausa is broadcast on the BBC World Service, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, and Radio Peking. Like many sub-Saharan languages, Hausa is tonal.

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