Top 10 States With The Highest Number of Languages in Nigeria
Which 10 states in Nigeria have the most languages spoken there?
Nigeria has over 500 languages! These languages are not spread evenly.
Some states have more languages than others.
The top 10 states with the highest number of languages are very diverse. What are these top 10 Nigerian states where you hear the most languages?
LANGUAGES IN NIGERIA
Nigeria’s over 500 languages are distributed unevenly across its 36 states. Certain states contain more linguistic diversity than others.
The 10 states with the highest number of indigenous languages encompass much of Nigeria’s cultural and linguistic richness within their borders.
For example, Cross River State tops the list with a phenomenal 73 languages spoken by its residents. This display of ethno-linguistic plurality gets replicated across the other leading states – from Adamawa to Lagos.
However, daily life for most Nigerians revolves around the lingua francas of English, Pidgin English, Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo. These are the most popular languages in Nigeria.
English remains Nigeria’s official language and the language of instruction in its schools. But behind this dominance, hundreds of minority languages also permeate Nigerian culture, literature, and media.
Unfortunately, many smaller languages risk extinction from pressures like urbanization, poverty, and global communications.
Nigerian language policy aims to promote multilingual ability alongside fluent English. Public campaigns to preserve endangered languages and train mother-tongue teachers signify the awareness around maintaining Nigeria’s delicate language diversity.
The exceptional linguistic range across certain Nigerian states spotlights why language preservation is integral for safeguarding the country’s diverse ethnic identities.
TOP 10 STATES WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF LANGUAGES IN NIGERIA
As we wrote earlier, Nigeria is a linguistically diverse country with over 500 languages spoken within its borders. This rich linguistic diversity is unevenly distributed across the different states and regions of the country.
Some states have a higher concentration of languages than others.
In this article, we explore the 10 Nigerian states with the highest number of indigenous languages.
CROSS RIVER STATE – 73 LANGUAGES
Cross River State, located in the Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria, has the highest linguistic diversity in the country. Up to 73 indigenous languages from the Niger-Congo language family are spoken in Cross River State. These include Efik, Ejagham, Bekwarra, Bahumono, and many others.
The large number of languages reflects the cultural and ethnic diversity of the state. Many of these languages are tonal and have unique speech patterns.
ADAMAWA STATE – 58 LANGUAGES
Adamawa State in northeastern Nigeria hosts up to 58 indigenous languages, making it the state with the second highest linguistic diversity.
Languages spoken in Adamawa include Fali, Hdi, Fulfulde, Bachama, Batta, and numerous others. Many of the minority languages of Adamawa State are at the risk of extinction due to the dominance of Hausa and Fulfulde languages.
TARABA STATE – 54 LANGUAGES
With about 54 indigenous languages, Taraba State comes third in terms of linguistic diversity in Nigeria.
Located in the northeastern part of the country, languages spoken in Taraba include Mumuye, Jukun Takum, Kuteb, Chamba-Daka, and Wurkum among others. Many of these languages have fewer than 100,000 speakers each.
BENUE STATE – 50 LANGUAGES
The north-central state of Benue has around 50 distinct languages spoken by the various ethnic groups who reside there. Some prominent ones include Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Etulo, and Abakwariga.
Many families in Benue State grow up speaking both their native tongue as well as pidgin English. The diversity of languages reflects the rich cultural heritage in the state.
DELTA STATE – 49 LANGUAGES
In the oil-rich Delta State of southern Nigeria, there exist around 49 distinct indigenous languages. Prominent among them are Urhobo, Isoko, Igbo, Izon, and Itsekiri. The linguistic diversity of Delta State is linked to the varied ethnic nationalities who live there and the complex migration history of various groups over centuries. The number of speakers varies greatly between the major and minor Delta State languages.
BAYELSA STATE – 47 LANGUAGES
Home to the Ijaw ethnic group, Bayelsa State has around 47 native languages spoken within its borders.
Some of the major ones include Kolokuma, Mein, Nembe, Ogbia, and Epie-Atissa. Many minority languages are at the verge of disappearing in Bayelsa State due to lack of written literature and displacement of indigenous communities. Efforts are ongoing to document and preserve these delicate languages.
RIVERS STATE – 43 LANGUAGES
Rivers State is one of the top 10 linguistically diverse states with about 43 languages spoken by its residents. Well-known languages of Rivers State include Igbo, Ibani, Ekpeye, Engenni, and Kalabari. Rivers State hosts the linguistic meeting point between the Igbo, Ijaw, and Ogoni language areas. This strategic location is key to understanding the state’s exceptional linguistic diversity today.
ENUGU STATE – 42 LANGUAGES
Located in southeast Nigeria, Enugu State has around 42 indigenous languages within its borders. This includes the Igbo language and its various dialects like Awkuzu, Udi, Enugu Ezike, and Nkwerre. Other important Enugu State languages are Idoma, Ibagu, and Agba. There exist many more minority languages scattered across small villages in the state.
KADUNA STATE – 40 LANGUAGES
The north-western state of Kaduna has about 40 languages spoken by its ethnically diverse population. Some of the major ones are Gbagyi, Adara, Kagoma, Gwandara, Ninzam, and Amo. Many of the minority ethnic groups reside in southern Kaduna which tallies with the distribution of the minor languages. The northern part of the state is predominantly Hausa-speaking.
LAGOS STATE – 39 LANGUAGES
It may come as a surprise to some that Lagos State made the top 10 list of most linguistically diverse states in Nigeria.
However, historical records show that up to 39 distinct languages are spoken in Lagos State. Prominent among them are Yoruba, Igbo, Nigerian Pidgin English, Ikale, and Ijebu.
Several indigenous lagoon fishing communities in Lagos State have their unique languages too. The vast majority of Lagos residents can speak Yoruba and English.
Nigeria is a country with many different cultures and languages. The top 10 states discussed have the highest language diversity. In these states you can hear over 30 languages! Cross River State has the most with 73 different languages. Lagos State also made the top 10 list with 39 languages spoken there.
All the languages show Nigeria’s rich culture. It is good these languages are protected for future generations. Nigeria’s diversity of languages makes it an interesting country.