Yoruba is most closely related to the Itsekiri language

Yoruba (English pronunciation: /ˈjɒrʊbə/;[3] Yor. èdè Yorùbá) is a language spoken in West Africa, mainly in Nigeria. The number of speakers of Yoruba is approaching 30 million.[1][4] It is a pluricentric language spoken principally in Beninand Nigeria, with communities in other parts of Africa, the Americas, and Europe. A variety of the language, Lucumi, is the liturgical language of the Santería religion of the Caribbean. Many Yoruba words are used in the Afro-Brazilian religion known as Candomblé. Yoruba is most closely related to the Itsekiri language (spoken in the Niger Delta) and to Igala (spoken in central Nigeria).[5] Contents   [hide]  1History 2Yoruboid languages 3Varieties 4Literary Yoruba 5Writing system 6Linguistic features 6.1Phonology 6.1.1Vowels 6.1.2Consonants 6.1.3Tone 6.2Tonality effects and computer-coded documents 6.2.1Assimilation and elision 6.3Grammar 7Arabic influence 7.1Some loanwords 8Literature 8.1Spoken literature 8.2Written literature 9Music 10See also 11Notes and references 11.1Notes 11.2References 11.2.1History 11.2.2Dictionaries 11.2.3Grammars and sketches 12External links History Further information: Volta–Niger and Benue–Congo Yoruba is classified within the Edekiri languages, which together with Itsekiri and the isolate Igala form the Yoruboid group of languages within the Volta–Nigerbranch of the Niger–Congo family.


The linguistic unity of the Niger–Congo family dates to deep prehistory, estimates ranging around 15 kya (the end of the Upper Paleolithic).[6] In present-day Nigeria, it is estimated that there are over 40 million Yoruba primary and secondary language speakers and several other millions of speakers outside Nigeria making it the most widely spoken African language outside Africa.


Yoruboid languages Main article: Yoruboid languages Group Name(s) Location(s) Largest dialects Native speakers countr(y)(ies) Comment Igala languages Igala Eastern Kogi State, in and around the areas of Dekina, Ankpa, Idah, ibaji, Omala, Igalamela-OdoluEtc. Ife, Ankpa, Dekina, Ibaji, Ebu, Idah 2.1 million Nigeria Most divergent Yoruboid language (earliest split) & Easternmost Yoruboid language Ogugu Eastern Kogi State, Northern Enugu State, Uzo Uwani, Igbo Eze North, Nsukka Local Government Areas __________ 160,000 Nigeria A divergent Igala dialect Edekiri languages Ede languages Southern, Central and Northern Benin, Central Togo, in and around: Porto-Novo, Pobè, Adjarra, Bantè, Savé, Tchaourou, Sakété, Ketou, Cové, Adja-Ouèrè, Bassila (Benin). Atakpame (Togo) Ede Ife, Ede Ica, Idaca, Ede Cabe, Ede Ije, Kambole, Ede Nago, Manigri Etc. 1.4 million Benin, Togo, Nigeria A cluster of closely related dialects in Western Yorubaland, with more than 95% Lexical similarity to standard Yoruba Itsekiri Western Delta state in Warri South, Warri North, Warri South West and Ethiope West LGA's. Edo State in Ikpoba Okha, Oredo and Ovia South-WestLGA's __________


1 million Nigeria A Yoruba dialect of the western Niger Delta & easternmost Edekiri dialect Yoruba South West, North Central & Mid-West Nigeria: Ondo, Edo, Kwara, Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Kogi, Oyo, Osun. East & Central Benin: Plateau, Collines, Ouémé, Zou, Borgu Etc. Ekiti, Ijebu, Oworo, Ijesha, Akoko, Okun, Oyo, Egba, Awori, Igbomina, Owo, Idanre, Egbado, Ilaje, Ketu, Ikale, Mokole, LucumiEtc. 40 million Nigeria, Benin, Americas By far the largest of the Yoruboid languages, and the Niger–Congolanguage with the largest number of L1 speakers. Olukumi Isolated within Edoid languages in Edo and Delta states, Oshimili North and Esan South-East Local government Areas. __________ 17,000 (?) Nigeria An isolated Yoruba dialect on the Western flanks of the Niger The Yoruba group is assumed to have developed out of undifferentiated Volta–Niger populations by the 1st millennium BC. Settlements of early Yoruba speakers are assumed to correspond to those found in the wider Niger area from about the 4th century BC, especially at Ife.


As the North-West Yoruba dialects show more linguistic innovation, combined with the fact that Southeast and Central Yoruba areas generally have older settlements, suggests a later date for migration into Northwestern Yorubaland.[7] According to the Kay Williamson Scale, the following is the degree of relationship between Itsekiri and other Yoruboid dialects, using a compiled word list of the most common words. A similarity of 100% would mean a total overlap of two dialects, while a similarity of 0 would mean two speech areas that have absolutely no relationship. % Similarity Igala Ijumu (Okun) Standard Yoruba Ijesha Ekiti Ijebu Oba (Akoko) Ondo Ilaje Ikale Itsekiri 60.0% 70.3% 71.5% 72.0% 74.2% 75.3% 78.4% 78.4% 80.4% 82.3% The result of the wordlist analysis shows that Itsekiri bears the strongest similarity to the SEY dialects and most especially Ilaje and Ikale, at 80.4% and 82.3% similarity. According to the language assessment criteria of the international Language Assessment Conference (1992), only when a wordlist analysis shows a lexical similarity of below 70% are two speech forms considered to be different languages. An overlap of 70% and above indicates that both speech forms are the same language, although dialect intelligibility tests would need to be carried out to determine how well speakers of one dialect can understand the other speech form. Thus while the analysis shows that Igala, with an overlap of 60% is a completely different language, all other Yoruboid speech forms are merely dialects of the same Language. Varieties The Yoruba dialect continuum itself consists of several dialects.


The various Yoruba dialects in the Yorubaland of Nigeria can be classified into Five major dialect areas: Northwest, Northeast, Central, Southwest and Southeast.[8] Clear boundaries cannot be drawn, peripheral areas of dialectal regions often having some similarities to adjoining dialects. North-West Yoruba (NWY) Egba, Ibadan, Egbado/Yewa, Ọyọ, Western Ogun, Lagos/Eko. North-East Yoruba (NEY) Yagba, Owe, Ijumu, Oworo, Gbede, Abunu. Central Yoruba (CY) Igbomina, Ijesha, Ifẹ, Ekiti, Akurẹ, Ẹfọn. South-East Yoruba (SEY) Ikale, Ilaje, Ondo, Ọwọ, Idanre, Akoko, Remo, Ijẹbu. South-West Yoruba (SWY) Ketu, Awori, Sakete, Ife (Togo), Idasha, Ipokia/Anago. North-West Yoruba is historically a part of the Ọyọ empire. In NWY dialects, Proto-Yoruba /gh/ (the velar fricative [ɣ]) and /gw/ have merged into /w/; the upper vowels /i ̣/ and /ụ/ were raised and merged with /i/ and /u/, just as their nasal counterparts, resulting in a vowel system with seven oral and three nasal vowels. Ethnographically, traditional government is based on a division of power between civil and war chiefs; lineage and descent are unilineal and agnatic. South-East Yoruba was probably associated with the expansion of the Benin Empire after c. 1450 AD.[9] In contrast to NWY, lineage and descent are largely multilineal and cognatic, and the division of titles into war and civil is unknown. Linguistically, SEY has retained the /gh/ and /gw/ contrast, while it has lowered the nasal vowels /ịn/ and /ụn/ to /ẹn/ and /ọn/, respectively. SEY has collapsed the second and third person plural pronominal forms; thus, àn án wá can mean either 'you (pl.) came' or 'they came' in SEY dialects, whereas NWY for example has ẹ wá 'you (pl.) came' and wọ́n wá 'they came', respectively.


The emergence of a plural of respect may have prevented coalescence of the two in NWY dialects. Central Yoruba forms a transitional area in that the lexicon has much in common with NWY, and it shares many ethnographical features with SEY. Its vowel system is the least innovating (most stable) of the three dialect groups, having retained nine oral-vowel contrasts and six or seven nasal vowels and an extensive vowel harmony system. Peculiar to Central and Eastern (NEY, SEY) Yoruba also, is the ability to begin words with the vowel [U:] which in Western Yoruba has been changed to {I:] Literary Yoruba Literary Yoruba, also known as Standard Yoruba, Yoruba koiné, and common Yoruba, is a separate member of the dialect cluster. It is the written form of the language, the standard variety learned at school and that spoken by newsreaders on the radio. Standard Yoruba has its origin in the 1850s, when Samuel A. Crowther, the first African Bishop, published a Yoruba grammar and started his translation of the Bible. Though for a large part based on the Ọyọ and Ibadan dialects, Standard Yoruba incorporates several features from other dialects.[10] It also has some features peculiar to itself, for example the simplified vowel harmony system, as well as foreign structures, such as calques from English which originated in early translations of religious works.


Because the use of Standard Yoruba did not result from some deliberate linguistic policy, much controversy exists as to what constitutes 'genuine Yoruba', with some writers holding the opinion that the Ọyọ dialect is the most "pure" form, and others stating that there is no such thing as genuine Yoruba at all. Standard Yoruba, the variety learnt at school and used in the media, has nonetheless been a powerful consolidating factor in the emergence of a common Yoruba identity. Writing system See also: Yoruba Braille In the 17th century[citation needed] Yoruba was written in the Ajami script, a form of Arabic.[11] Modern Yoruba orthography originated in the early work of CMSmissionaries working among the Aku (Yoruba) of Freetown.


One of their informants was Crowther, who later would proceed to work on his native language himself. In early grammar primers and translations of portions of the English Bible, Crowther used the Latin alphabet largely without tone markings. The only diacritic used was a dot below certain vowels to signify their open variants [ɛ] and [ɔ], viz. ⟨ẹ⟩ and ⟨ọ⟩. Over the years the orthography was revised to represent tone among other things. In 1875 the Church Missionary Society (CMS) organised a conference on Yoruba Orthography; the standard devised there was the basis for the orthography of the steady flow of religious and educational literature over the next seventy years.


The current orthography of Yoruba derives from a 1966 report of the Yoruba Orthography Committee, along with Ayọ Bamgboṣe's 1965 Yoruba Orthography, a study of the earlier orthographies and an attempt to bring Yoruba orthography in line with actual speech as much as possible. Still largely similar to the older orthography, it employs the Latin alphabet modified by the use of the digraph ⟨gb⟩ and certain diacritics, including the traditional vertical line set under the letters ⟨e̩⟩, ⟨o̩⟩, and ⟨s̩⟩. In many publications the line is replaced by a dot ⟨ẹ⟩, ⟨ọ⟩, ⟨ṣ⟩. The vertical line had been used to avoid the mark being fully covered by an underline. A B D E Ẹ F G Gb H I J K L M N O Ọ P R S Ṣ T U W Y a b d e ẹ f g gb h i j k l m n o ọ p r s ṣ t u w y The Latin letters ⟨c⟩, ⟨q⟩, ⟨v⟩, ⟨x⟩, ⟨z⟩ are not used. The pronunciation of the letters without diacritics corresponds more or less to their International Phonetic Alphabet equivalents, except for the labial-velar stops [k͡p](written ⟨p⟩) and [ɡ͡b] (written ⟨gb⟩), in which both consonants are pronounced simultaneously rather than sequentially. The diacritic underneath vowels indicates an open vowel, pronounced with the root of the tongue retracted (so ⟨ẹ⟩ is pronounced [ɛ̙] and ⟨ọ⟩ is [ɔ̙]). ⟨ṣ⟩ represents a postalveolar consonant [ʃ] like the English ⟨sh⟩, ⟨y⟩ represents a palatal approximant like English ⟨y⟩, and ⟨j⟩ a voiced palatal plosive [ɟ], as is common in many African orthographies.


In addition to the vertical bars, three further diacritics are used on vowels and syllabic nasal consonants to indicate the language's tones: an acute accent ⟨´⟩ for the high tone, a grave accent ⟨`⟩ for the low tone, and an optional macron ⟨¯⟩ for the middle tone. These are used in addition to the line in ⟨ẹ⟩ and ⟨ọ⟩. When more than one tone is used in one syllable, the vowel can either be written once for each tone (for example, *⟨òó⟩ for a vowel [o] with tone rising from low to high) or, more rarely in current usage, combined into a single accent. In this case, a caron ⟨ˇ⟩ is used for the rising tone (so the previous example would be written ⟨ǒ⟩) and a circumflex ⟨ˆ⟩ for the falling tone. Á À Ā É È Ē Ẹ / E̩ Ẹ́ / É̩ Ẹ̀ / È̩ Ẹ̄ / Ē̩ Í Ì Ī Ó Ò Ō Ọ / O̩ Ọ́/ Ó̩ Ọ̀ / Ò̩ Ọ̄ / Ō̩ Ú Ù Ū Ṣ / S̩ á à ā é è ē ẹ / e̩ ẹ́ / é̩ ẹ̀ / è̩ ẹ̄ / ē̩ í ì ī ó ò ō ọ / o̩ ọ́ / ó̩ ọ̀ / ò̩ ọ̄ / ō̩ ú ù ū ṣ / s̩ In Benin, Yoruba uses a different orthography. The Yoruba alphabet was standardized along with other Benin languages in the National Languages Alphabet by the National Language Commission in 1975, and revised in 1990 by the National Center for Applied Linguistics.

The current orthography of Yoruba derives from a 1966 report of the Yoruba Orthography Committee

The emergence of a plural of respect may have prevented coalescence of the two in NWY dialects