According to the African Cultural Center USA, there are more than 1,000 different languages spoken on the African continent.
Somalia is the only African country whose population speaks the same language - Somali.
In Cameroon, a country just a bit larger than California, people speak 24 different languages in addition to English and French.
Nigeria is the biggest country in Africa in total population. And the people there speak 400 different languages. Ethiopia, which is the largest country in area in Eastern Africa, has 70 languages, and 200 different dialects.
In South Africa (population 47-million) there are 11 "official" spoken languages.
Language is a major stumbling block to several aspects of development in Africa, not the least of which is the development of market economies.
Consider then the following scenario: Two people meet on the street, neither speaks the other's language. They both use their cell phones to connect to a speech-to-speech translation computer, initiate conversation and conclude their business.
Speech-to-speech translation has been demonstrated numerous times in limited ways, but the above scenario was enacted on a street in Japan, according to a May 2000 report by Wired Magazine ( San Francisco).
South Africa (SA) has begun a major initiative to address the problem of multilingual translation to help deal with...