The Republic of Guinea has a diverse linguistic landscape. More than 40 languages are spoken across the country. A legacy of the French rule in Guinea, French is now the official language of Guinea. A number of indigenous languages enjoy the status of national languages in the country. These include the Malinké, Kissi, Toma, Fula, and Kpelle.
The Official Language of Guinea
French, the official language of colonial Guinea, continues to enjoy the official status in the independent country. The language serves as a medium of instruction in the educational institutions in the country. It is also the language of used by government, administration, and media.
National Languages of Guinea
The Fula language is a member of the Senegambian branch of the Niger–Congo languages. Fula is spoken as a first language by the Fula people of Guinea. It is spoken by about 40% of the population of the country, who reside mainly in Middle Guinea.
This language is spoken by the Mandinka, an ethnic group of West Africa. These people, descendants of the Mali Empire, ruled in the 13th century under Sundiata Keita, a powerful Maninka king. In Guinea, the Malinké language is spoken by about 30% of the country’s population, mostly residing in Middle Guinea.
The Susu language, a Mande language, is spoken by about 20% of the population of Guinea. The language is spoken by the Susu people living in the country. The language is spoken primarily in the country’s coastal areas. It acts as an important trade language in the country.
Around 3.5% of the population of Guinea speak the Mel language of Kissi. The two dialects of Kissi, the northern and the southern, are both tonal languages. The former dialect is spoken in Guinea and derives loanwords from the Mende languages and Malinke.
The Kpelle people in Guinea speak the Kpelle language, a member of the Mande family of languages. In Guinea, Kpelle is primarily spoken in the country’s forest regions by half a million people.
Toma is a dialect of the Mande language of Loma that is spoken by the Loma people of Guinea. Around 1.8% of the country’s population speak Toma which is designated as an official regional language.