Sudan is a multilingual nation where both English and literary Arabic serve as the official languages of the nation. The total number of languages used in Sudan is around 142, however only 133 are currently spoken as 9 of the languages have gone extinct over the years. The most spoken language in the north, east, west and middle regions is Arabic, and tribal languages which are spoken across the whole country.

The dominant language in Sudan is Arabic, having been given official status by the Constitution of Sudan. The Arabic language is used mainly in one dialect, the Sudanese Arabic, which is further classified in the Afro-Asiatic family. Sudanese Arabic has been influenced by a number of different Nubian languages. This language is different from Egyptian Arabic but similar to Hejazi Arabic. Even among the Arabic speaking population in Sudan there are notable differences in the Arabic spoken in different regions. For example, a variant called Juba Arabic is more common in Southern Sudan, while the western region of the country mainly uses Chadian Arabic, and Hejazi and Najzdi Arabic can be heard in the country’s mid-eastern and mid-northern regions.

Two other languages from the Afro-Asiatic family are spoken in Sudan: the Beja language and the Hausa language. The Beja language is also called Bedawi and is spoken by around 2 million speakers. This language is native to the Beja community, mainly found along the Red Sea’s western coast. Hausa is spoken by a western community of about 80,000 inhabitants. Apart from Beja and Hausa, the Tigre language which is dominant in Eritrea, also has some speakers in Sudan.

The largest number of native languages in Sudan come from the Nilo-Saharan family. These include: Dinka and Nuer as the most influential native languages in Sudan. Other Nilo-Saharan languages spoken in Sudan include Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa, as well as the Temein language group which constitutes some Eastern Sudanic languages such as Tese, Temein, and Doni.

The Nubian languages spoken in Sudan are spoken in Nubian communities living in the country. This group of languages constitutes the Nobiin language with the largest number of speakers, as well as the Midob language and the Hill Nubian languages. The Birgid language is another native language of Sudan from the Nubian language group, however this language has gone extinct over the years.

The Niger-Congo languages spoken in Sudan include the Zande language and the Kordofanian languages with six languages classified in this group: Kadu, Rashad, Talodi-Heiban, Lafofa, Fulani and Katla.


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