In the multilingual nation of Burkina Faso, an estimated 70 languages are spoken throughout the country. 66 of these languages are indigenous languages. French is Burkina Faso’s official language. Mossi is the most widely spoken language of Burkina Faso, as it is spoken by nearly 40% of the country’s population. Most people living in the country’s urban areas are multilingual, while the rural population uses their native languages for common activities.
The Official Language of Burkina Faso
French is Burkina Faso’s official language. The language was introduced in the country in 1919 during French colonial rule in the country. The language is the primary medium of instruction in the country’s schools. It is also the dominant language used in the country’s judicial, administrative, and political institutions, as well as the press. Despite the wide use of French for official purposes in Burkina Faso, only 15% of the nation’s population speak French on a daily basis. However, since education in French assures social mobility and economic support for education for the country’s students, there is constant support towards the use of French as a medium of instruction in Burkina Faso’s schools.
Indigenous and Minority Languages of Burkina Faso
The Mossi language is spoken by about 5 million Mossi people in Burkina Faso. It is one of Burkina Faso’s two official regional languages. Mossi is a Gur language, a member of the Oti–Volta branch of languages. It is the country’s most widely spoken language. As of 2008, nearly 48% of the population of Burkina Faso spoke the Mossi language. The language is spoken mainly in the central region of Burkina Faso, especially around the capital of Ouagadougou.
The Fulfulde language is a member of the Senegambian branch of the Niger-Congo language family. The language serves as a lingua franca in many areas of Burkina Faso. The language is spoken by about 8.36% of the country's population. First language speakers of Fulfulde reside primarily in the east and north of Burkina Faso.
The Mande language of Dyula is spoken in countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, and the Ivory Coast. Millions of people speak this language, which is an important trade language and is mutually intelligible with Bambara. The language uses Latin, Arabic, and the indigenous N'Ko script for writing. As of 2006, 4.4% of the population of Burkina Faso speak Dyula. It acts as a lingua franca in the country, and is mainly spoken in the western parts of Burkina Faso.
Around 5.51% of the population of Burkina Faso speak the Gourmanché language. It is spoken as a first language by the Gurma people living mainly in the eastern parts of the country.
Other Languages Spoken in Burkina Faso
The Mande language of Bissa is spoken by about 2.85% of the population of Burkina Faso. It is spoken as a first language by the Bissa people. Barka, Lebir, and Lere are the three dialects of the language.
The language is spoken by the Dagaaba people in Burkina Faso and Ghana. It is spoken by about 1.76% of the country's population.
The Gur language of Bwa is spoken by the Bwa people of Burkina Faso, who constitute about 1.91% of the country’s population.
The Mande language of Bobo is spoken in Burkina Faso by the Bobo people. Bobo Dioulasso, a city in western Burkina Faso, is named after the Bobo people.
Around 1.66% of the population of Burkina Faso speak the Mande language of Samo.