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Languages of Sudan: Wikis


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Sudan is a multilingual country with Arabic dominating in the North, and other languages in the South. In the 2005 constitution of the Republic of Sudan, the official languages of Sudan are Standard Arabic and English. In the South of Sudan, the Dinka language is spoken in many villages.



The total number of languages used or spoken in Sudan is 142.[1] Of those, 134 are currently spoken and lived languages and 8 languages are extinct.

Sudanese Arabic is the most widely spoken language in the country, and is dominant in much of the north. It is the result of a mixing of Egyptian Arabic and Arabic from the Arabian peninsula with local languages (El Rutana). This has resulted in a variety of Arabic that is unique to Sudan, reflecting the way in which the country has been influenced by both African and Arabian cultures. Other languages in the north include Nubian languages and Beja or Bedawi.

Among the most spoken languages in southern Sudan are Dinka, Nuer, Acholi, Madi, Otuho, Bari, Lopit, Dingidinga, Zande, Abukaya, Muru, Murule, Toposa, Buya, Pari, Shilluk, Anywak, and lango.

Language policies

Under the 1998 constitution, only Arabic was the official language.[2]

The 2005 constitution designated Arabic and English as the official languages of Sudan.[3]

Article 8:

  1. All indigenous languages of Sudan are national languages and shall be respected, developed and promoted.
  2. Arabic is a widely spoken national language in Sudan.
  3. Arabic, as a major language at the national level and English shall be the official working languages of the national government and the languages of instruction for higher education.
  4. In addition to Arabic and English, the legislature of any sub-national level of government may adopt any other national language as an additional official working language at its level.
  5. There shall be no discrimination against the use of either Arabic or English at any level of government or stage of education.

Literacy and education

Ethnologue gives the literacy rate in Sudan as 20-27%.[1] UNDP quotes a literacy rate of 60.9%.[4] Neither indicates the language(s) in which literacy was measured.


  1. ^ a b Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th ed. Dallas: SIL International. Online version: ("Languages of Sudan")
  2. ^ Leclerc, Jacques. L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde, "Soudan"
  3. ^ Sudan constitution of 2005 (English version)
  4. ^ UNDP. 2006. Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis. Human Development Report 2006. New York: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Human development index Adult literacy rate (% ages 15 and older) (HDI)

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