Sudan’s split between Christianity in the south and Islam in the north has created a split in languages. Arabic is the most widely spoken language in the country, followed by English. It shouldn’t be hard to communicate when I’m down there. The 2005 Sudan Constitution declared the country’s official languages as English and Arabic. The hardest part about reporting in South Sudan will be the language barrier posed by the many tribes throughout the south. There were an estimated 142 languages in all of Sudan at one point, nine of which are now believed to be extinct. This poses the threat of finding a separate translator for any story on a tribe in the south. A Google search for translators in South Sudan is little help, and NGOs and other reporters looking for translators fill the Web. It looks like I’ll have to wait until I get there to find a translator.
It’s been reported that most of the English speakers in the country are political figures, hospitality workers and the elderly. Any story I plan to pitch for covering the establishment of the ceded country I should be able to do without a translator.