About the Program in African Languages (PAL)

UF has one of the top programs in the US for studying African languages. Seven languages representing all regions and major language families of Africa are offered on regular basis at all levels of instruction (i.e., beginning, intermediate, advanced & superior). They include:

Akan

A major language of Ghana. Also widely known as Twi, Akan belongs to the Kwa subdivision of the Niger-Congo group of African languages. Over 40% of the Ghanaian population speak various dialects of the Akan language as their mother tongue, while a good proportion of the remainder speak these varieties as second or third languages.

Amharic

A major language of Ethiopia. Amharic is a Semitic language that uses a script which originated from the Ge’ez alphabet. It has 33 basic characters with each having 7 forms for each consonant-vowel combination. Unlike Arabic, Hebrew or Syrian, the language is written from left to right. As the national language, Amharic is spoken in every province, including the Amhara region.

Arabic

Spoken in North Africa & the Sahara. Arabic is a macrolanguage. As the largest member of the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family it includes all descendants of Classical Arabic spoken primarily across the Middle East and North Africa. Its closest living relatives are Hebrew and Aramaic. The term Arabic has several meanings. It can be used as a generic term that covers all varieties of Arabic. It can also refer to Classical Arabic, to Modern Standard Arabic, and to the numerous regional varieties of the language. Regional varieties are usually referred to as spoken, or colloquial, Arabic. Arabic has been a written language since the 6th century AD. Arabic is the official or co-official language of Algeria, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Mauritania.

Swahili

A lingua franca in East & Central Africa. Swahili is the most widely studied indigenous language in Africa – spoken by over 100 million speakers who speak it as a first or second and third language in eastern and central Africa. It is a Bantu language of the Niger-Congo family and has a typical, fascinating Bantu structure. Nouns are grouped into different categories (referred to as noun classes) according to their meaning and forms. Swahili boasts at least 11 noun categories. They are not divided by gender, as in many European languages, but by such criteria as size and shape.

Wolof

A major language of Senegal and the Gambia, is spoken by more than 90% of the Senegalese population either as a first or second language. Out of the six major languages of Senegal, Wolof is most widely spoken. It is also spoken by a large number of people in The Gambia and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. It’s a member of the Niger-Congo language family.

Yoruba

Spoken in Nigeria & the diaspora, is the first language of over 40 million West Africans, and is spoken by populations in Southwestern Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Sierra Leone. It is also one of the prominent languages and cultures of the diaspora, and greatly impacts the social, cultural and religious lives of millions of people in countries outside Africa, such as Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, and Haiti.

Zulu

Zulu is one of the 11 official languages of South Africa. It is a member of the Nguni language group (other Nguni languages include Xhosa, Swati and Ndebele). These language are spoken by more than 25 million people. Despite the proliferation of languages in South Africa, Zulu remains the language with the largest number of speakers. It is the dominant language in KwaZulu-Natal, the largest province in South Africa. Zulu is also the most commonly spoken language in the southeastern parts of Mpumalanga and Gauteng provinces, as well as in the northeastern part of the Orange Free State.