Multilingualism in Benin
“In Benin there are many different languages that are spoken. A lot of times you’ll hear French because that was the colonial language and that’s the language that kids learn in school and that’s used in business and government. But there are, I think, over eighty indigenous languages that are spoken in the country. In the South you’ll mostly hear a language called Fon. It’s pretty… Almost anywhere in the South you’ll find people that can speak Fon. In the North it’s generally split between two languages. In the Northwest you’ll hear a lot of Dendi and in the Northeast you’ll hear a lot of Bariba or Baatonum. So depending on where you go, you’ll hear a lot of different languages. In the village where I spent the most time, called Kalalé, there were mainly three indigenous languages that you would hear; Bariba, Bo, and Fulfulde, which is the language of the Peul people who are nomadic cattle herders. However, since we were so close to the Nigerian border, you would also hear English, Yoruba, Igbo, and a lot of different languages from Nigeria, in addition to French. So walking down the street on a daily basis, I could be greeted in eight different languages.”
In this video, a Beninese expert discusses the various languages spoken in Benin.