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the people (back to intro)

in this section
Languages by region

language families:
Other Languages

The islands that are associated with Africa have their own languages, most of which have been influenced by European languages. The people of Madagascar speak Malagasy, a Malayo-Polynesian language.

In addition to the various African languages, English, French and some other European languages are also widely spoken in certain regions, where they have come to be the lingua franca as a result of the colonization and immigration. Those countries that had been associated with France, for example, continue to use French. English is widely spoken in the countries in East, West and Central Africa that had been colonized by the British. Those countries formerly associated with Portugal continue to use Portuguese. In South Africa, Afrikaans (from Dutch) and English are widely spoken as well as Fanagalo (combination of English and Bantu).

Most of the African languages do not have a written form. There are, however, a few exceptions. Swahili uses Arabic script for its written form. Several ethnic groups have created their own scripts. These groups are the Tuaregs and the Berbers (southern Sahara), the Mum (Cameroon) and the Vai (Sierra Leone).

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