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The number of languages currently estimated and cataloged in Nigeria is 522. This number includes 510 living languages, two second languages without native speakers and 9 extinct languages. In some areas of Nigeria, ethnic groups speak more than one language. The official language of Nigeria, English, the former colonial language, was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic unity of the country. The major languages spoken in Nigeria are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulfulde, Kanuri, Ibibio.
Nigeria is one of the most linguistically diverse countries on earth, says Kole Omotoso, a professor at Adekunle Ajasin University.
Many children don't learn their mother-tongues, so languages need to be protected and more widely taught in order to survive. Nigerian languages remain very poorly researched compared with indigenous languages in Europe, the Americas and Australias," he adds.
Nigeria is dominated by three major languages: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, with English also used to maintain the country's unity amid a diverse cultural mix. Linguistics expert Samuel Aje notes that language also "defines the customs and traditions of the people... and its neglect has contributed to the struggle being faced by many African countries.