The official languages of Comoros are Arabic, Comorian, and French. Comorian is a Bantu language that is somewhat similar to Swahili and the dialect is almost exclusively spoken rather than written. Arabic has important roots in the nation as a language of commerce, education, and religion. French is still the language of the administration and education system of the Union of the Comoros which gives many citizens a bilingual upbringing.

Comorian is spoken by 97% of the country which equates to approximately 771,000 people. Prior to, and during, French colonization there was no official status or recognition of the language. The political powers at this time (the Sultans) preferred to use Arabic or Swahili and these languages were also used in the national educational system for many years. Although most official government and economic activity take place in French, the Comorian language still thrives in the region.

Arabic and French phrases are both useful when travelling to Comoros."As-salaam alaykum" is a common Arabic phrase meaning “peace be unto you”, this phrase is a greeting. The correct response to this phrase is “wa alaykum as-salam” which means, “and unto you, peace”. The phrase “shuk-ran”, means thank-you, and excuse me is pronounced "af-wan". Hello, written as bonjour and pronounced as "bon-jour" is a very common greeting in any society that speaks French. "Mer-ci" is also an easy word to learn and it means thank-you.

Minority languages in the Union of Comoros include Malagasy which is a language that originated in Madagascar, spoken by a small number of migrants. English is also a minority language in Comoros with many students learning it during their later years of high school. A small number of the population speak a creole language from the Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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