Indigenous Language Site

Languages

Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo

Yoruba (èdè Yorùbá)

Yoruba is one of the four official languages of Nigeria and is a member of the Niger-Congo family of languages. It is spoken by about 22 million people in southwest Nigeria, Benin, Togo, the UK, Brazil and the USA.

Yoruba first appeared in writing during the 19th century. The first Yoruba publications were a number of teaching booklets produced by John Raban in 1830-2. The person who made the biggest contribution to Yoruba literacy was Bishop Ajayi (Samual) Crowther (1806-1891), who studied many of the languages of Nigeria, including Yoruba, and wrote and translated in some of them. Crowther was also the first Christian bishop of West African origin. A Yoruba orthography appeared in about 1850, though it has undergone a number of changes since then.

 

Hausa

Hausa is a Chadic language with about 39 million speakers. It is spoken mainly in northern Nigeria and Niger, and also in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Germany, Ghana, Sudan and Togo.

Since the beginning of the 17th century, Hausa has been written with a version of the Arabic script known as ajami. Most of the early writing in Hausa was Islamic poetry or on Islamic themes. Ajami is still used, mainly to write poetry, but also for at least one newpaper and some books. There is no standard spelling system for Hausa written with the Arabic script so there is some variation in spelling between different writers.

A version of Hausa written with the Latin alphabet and known as boko began to emerge during the 19th century. Until the 1950s ajami and boko were both used, though since then boko has been the main alphabet for most Hausa speakers.

 

Igbo (igbo)

Igbo is one of the four official languages of Nigeria and is a member of the Niger-Congo family of languages. It is spoken by about 18 million people in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.

G. C. A. Oldendorp, a German missionary, was the first person to produce a book containing material written in Igbo, which consisted of a few words and phrases. His book, Geschichte der Mission der Evangelischen Bruder auf den Carabischen (History of the Evangelistic Mission of the Brothers in the Caribbean), was published in 1777. The first book in Igbo, Isoama-Ibo a primer, was produced in 1857 by Samuel Ajayi Crowther, an ex-slave and teacher who was also an outstanding African linguist, leader, and Africa’s first Anglican bishop.

There are numerous Igbo dialects, some of which are not mutually intelligible. The standard written form of Igbo is based on the Owerri and Umuahia dialects and has been in use since 1962.