Mahuton speaking Fon, Xwla, and Gun

Published July 14, 2020

Mahuton speaks Fon, Gun, and Eastern Xwla, all of which are languages from the Volta-Niger branch in the Niger-Congo languages family, which includes Yoruba, Igbo, and Zulu. They are spoken in Benin along with 50 other Gbe languages. This video was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden by Kristen Tcherneshoff and Cameron Willis. The three languages featured in this video are all in frequent contact, and speakers of one are often able to speak one or both of the others as well. Fon, also known as Fongbe, is spoken by about 1,900,000 speakers throughout mostly Southern Benin, with some 35,000 elsewhere. It refers to a cluster of languages, or also to a standardized form of that cluster’s languages. It is a tonal language, with two levels - high and low. Fon is used in many aspects of society, including administration, education, religious services, and business. Various forms of media and small-scale education efforts in Benin use Fon. Gun, Gungbe, is spoken by 675,000 people in Benin, mostly in the coastal Ouémé department, with 259,000 speakers outside of Benin (the majority of those in Nigeria). Language standardization and orthography is not currently stable, but there are radio programs in Gun for speakers in Benin. Eastern Xwla has about 80,000 speakers in South-Eastern Benin. It is the Eastern variety of the Xwla (Phla, Kpla) language, which has 153,000 speakers in total. The language shares much of its vocabulary with Fon and Gun, with 82% lexical similarity to Fon and 90% to Gun. The language is an oral language. In the communities where it is spoken, Eastern Xwla is used by all generations. Help us caption & translate this video!

Featured Languages

Fon [fon] Gbe, Eastern Xwla [gbx] Gun [guw]


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