The official languages of Chad are French and Arabic, but not all Chadians speak these languages. Many people in the south do not speak Arabic, and in the north, many people do not speak French. Among the 200 ethnic groups and subgroups in Chad, there are more than 100 different languages.

French is most common in the cities, towns and larger villages; it is the working language of government and business. Arabic is more widely spoken in the north of the country. There are many Arabic dialects in Chad, including several that are similar to Libyan Arabic and others that resemble the Arabic spoken in Sudan. Arabic is not only the language of Islam's holy book, the Qur'an, but the language of commerce, spoken by traders in marketplaces. Chadian Arabic has become a common language for communicating among certain ethnic groups.

   Did you know?
Of the four major language families in Africa, three are represented in Chad: the Nilo-Saharan, the Afro-Asiatic and the Congo-Kordofanian. Only the Khoisan languages of southern Africa are not represented.
Greetings are of great importance in Chad. They may be long and elaborate and require a ritualized response. The type of greeting depends on the age of the person addressed or the time of day. In some cultures in the south, it is considered impolite to look directly into the eyes of older people or people with authority. Some groups feel that watching people while they eat is disrespectful.

In many places, it is customary to offer a gift to guests when they arrive. In the north, this could be tea, dried okra powder or natron. The right hand is used to shake hands, to eat and to give and receive gifts. The left hand is believed to be the "unclean" hand and is not used for these activities.

  English   Sara Kaba Chadian Arabic
  Yes   Ayo   Aiwa
  No   Aan-an   La
  Good morning   Ndourouwo!   Sabah al kheir
  How are you?   Ye nere?   Kef halak?
  I am fine   Ye boulo   Afia!
  Thank you   An Gain   Shokran

   Did you know?
La Voix du Paysan (The Peasant's Voice), which began operating in 1997, is a private radio station owned by the Catholic Church. Located in Doba, it broadcasts locally produced programming, including news coverage and political commentary in French and indigenous languages, over a 220-kilometre range.