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The Niger–Congo languages constitute one of the world's major language families, and Africa's largest in terms of geographical area, number of speakers, and number of distinct languages. They may constitute the world's largest language family in terms of distinct languages, although this question is complicated by ambiguity about what constitutes a distinct language. A characteristic common to most Niger–Congo languages is the use of a noun-class system. The most widely spoken Niger–Congo languages by number of native speakers are Yoruba, Igbo, Fula, Shona and Zulu. The most widely spoken by total number of speakers is Swahili. Some scholars have doubted whether Niger–Congo is a valid genetic unit or rather a typological grouping, but most specialists today consider it to be a valid family, although there is no consensus on the subclassification.
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| Niger–Congo language in English