The official languages of Chad are French and Modern Standard Arabic. French is left over from the colonial era, when this country was under the control and administration of France. This language belongs to the Indo-European language family and uses the same Latin alphabet as English. In addition, French utilizes accent marks to stress the pronunciation of certain vowels. The Arabic language, however, belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is written in the Arabic alphabet, which consists of 28 letters and moves from right to left in a cursive-like style. Some letters are distinguished by the use of dots either above or below the letter.

Despite the fact that Arabic and French are the two official languages, the most widely spoken language in this country is Chadian Arabic. Between 40% and 60% of the population here speaks Chadian Arabic, which is also considered the language of business in Chad. French is spoken by just over 1.6 million individuals and is concentrated in the capital of N’Djamena. Modern Standard Arabic is spoken by only around 615,000 people throughout the country.

Learning a few phrases in Standard Arabic can be helpful for anyone planning a trip to Chad. Some of the basic expressions include: hello (as-salaam-alaikum), thank you (shokran), yes (na’am), no (la), and I don’t understand (ana la afham). If travelers are planning on spending most of their time in the capital city, brushing up on some French phrases is also a good idea. Some of these useful phrases include: please (s'il vous plait), where is (ou est), and thank you (merci).

In addition to the official languages and the lingua franca, Chad is home to at least 125 indigenous languages. These minority languages belong to several language families, including: Afro-Asiatic (primarily within the Chadian subgroup), Nilo-Saharan, and Niger-Congo. In addition to these indigenous languages, at least 2 creole languages can also be heard here: Sangho and Babalia Creole Arabic. Sangho is an African-based language, while Babalia Creole Arabic is a mix of Chadian Arabic and Beraku.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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