10 Nigerian Languages You Probably Don’t Know About

There are over 200 distinct languages in Nigeria. One barely knows anything about some of these languages as they have either gone into extinction or are almost extinct.

We are all familiar with the major like the Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Efik, Ibibio, Bini etc, meanwhile, many of Nigerian languages are not even heard of and some we never will due to reasons such as:

  • They are spoken by a minor population on the country
  • Many of the places where the languages are spoken are very rural, underdeveloped with little or no access to exposure
  • They are not being used for broadcasts or taught in schools as not many people speak these languages
  • Native speakers picked up languages that are more generally used beyond their locality due to socialising and ease of doing business with others around
  • Mass migration and adoption of a closer alternative by native users of the language
  • Some people have moved out of the localities where these languages are used and may have lost the tongue and may have been unable to transfer it to their progenies

See these 10 Nigerian languages you may never get to hear, because nobody speaks them anymore.

1. Ajawa

Ajawa used to be spoken in Bauchi State. It is a Afro-Asiatic language and due to disuse became extinct sometime around 1920 and 1940 as the native speakers adopted Hausa.

2. Basa-Gumna

Basa-Gumna was used in the Chanchaga part of Niger state and close to the Basa homeland of Nasarawa. It was a Kainji language. It slowly died when majority of the native speakers took to Hausa instead. There is still a very minor set that speak a version of it in Kogi state where they share a boundary with Niger.

3. Auyokawa

Auyokawa used to be spoken in Jigawa State and also was an Afro-Asiatic language.

4. Gamo-Ningi

Gamo (Buta) and Ningi was a Kainji dialect cluster in Bauchi state, with a population of about 15,000 people.

5. Odut

Odut used to be spoken in Odukpani area of Cross River State. It is a Niger-Congo composites but is now critically endangered (according to Surtherland’s red list) which means that one may be just lucky to find the language spoken by a population of 20 persons.

6. Teshenawa

Teshenawa was a language formerly spoken in Jigawa State. It was Afro-Asiatic.

7. Holma

Holma or Da Holmaci, formerly spoken in Adamawa State is an extinct Afro-Asiatic language. It died as its native speakers chose to speak Fulfulde a close alternative.

8. Kubi

Kubi was another Afro-Asiatic language formerly spoken in Bauchi State. The Members of the ethnic group have a population of about 1,500 and have now adopted Hausa instead.

9. Mawa

Mawa (different from Chadian language also known as Mawa) has also gone extinct. However, there exists speculations as to if it was truly even of Nigerian origin or brought in by travellers.

10. Kpati

Kpati was formerly spoken in Taraba State. It was a Grassfields language.

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