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Encyclopedia > Igbo language
Igbo
Igbo
Spoken in: southeastern Nigeria 
Region: Nigeria and other countries (transplants)
Total speakers: 20-35 million 
Ranking: 50
Language family: Niger-Congo
 Atlantic-Congo
  Volta-Congo
   Benue-Congo
    Igboid
     Igbo
Language codes
ISO 639-1: ig
ISO 639-2: ibo
ISO 639-3: ibo

Igbo is a language spoken in Nigeria by around 18 million people (1999 WA), the Igbo, especially in the southeastern region once identified as Biafra. The language was used by John Goldsmith as an example to justify deviating from the classical linear model of phonology as laid out in The Sound Pattern of English. It is written in the Roman script. Igbo is a tonal language, like Yoruba and Chinese. This is a list of languages, ordered by the number of native-language speakers, with some data for second-language use. ... Current distribution of Human Language Families A language family is a group of related languages said to have descended from a common proto-language. ... Map showing the distribution of Niger-Congo languages The Niger-Congo languages constitute one of the worlds major language families, and Africas largest in terms of geographical area, number of speakers, and number of distinct languages. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... In the classification of African languages, Volta-Congo is the major branch (in terms of number of languages) of the Niger-Congo phylum. ... The Benue-Congo group of languages constitutes the largest branch of the Niger-Congo language family, both in terms of sheer number of languages, of which 938 are known (not counting mere dialects), and in terms of speakers, numbering perhaps 550 million. ... Igboid is a branch of the Benue-Congo language family. ... ISO 639-1 is the first part of the ISO 639 international-standard language-code family. ... ISO 639-2 is the second part of the ISO 639 standard, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. ... ISO 639-3 is an international standard for language codes. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... Unicode is an industry standard allowing computers to consistently represent and manipulate text expressed in any of the worlds writing systems. ... The Igbo, sometimes (especially formerly) referred to as the Ibo, are a West African ethnic group numbering in the tens of millions. ... National motto: Peace, Unity, Freedom Official language English Capital Enugu Head of State Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Area ?- Total ?- % water Population;- Total 13,500,000 (1967) Currency Biafran pound (BIAP) Created May 30, 1967 Dissolved January 15, 1970 Demonym Biafran The Republic of Biafra was a short-lived secessionist state in... John Goldsmith introduced autosegmental phonology in 1976. ... Phonology (Greek phonÄ“ = voice/sound and logos = word/speech), is a subfield of linguistics which studies the sound system of a specific language (or languages). ... The Sound Pattern of English (frequently referred to as SPE) is a work on phonology (a branch of linguistics) by Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Yoruba (native name èdè Yorùbá, the Yoruba language) is a dialect continuum of West Africa with over 22 million speakers. ...

Contents

Dialects

Igbo has a number of dialects, distinguished by accent or orthography but almost universally mutually intelligible, including the Idemili Igbo dialect (the version used in Chinua Achebe's epic novel, Things Fall Apart), bende, Owerri, Ngwa, Umuahia, Nnewi, Onitsha, Awka, Abriba, Arochukwu, Nsukka, Mbaise, Ohafia, Agbor, Wawa and Okigwe,Ukwa/Ndoki. It is considered to be a dialect continuum. There is apparently a degree of dialect levelling occurring. A pair of languages is said to be mutually intelligible if speakers of one language can readily understand the other language. ... For other uses, see Things Fall Apart (disambiguation). ... A dialect continuum is a range of dialects spoken across a large geographical area, differing only slightly between areas that are geographically close, and gradually decreasing in mutual intelligibility as the distances become greater. ... There are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ...


The wide variety of spoken dialects has made agreeing a standardised orthography and dialect of the Igbo language very difficult. The current Onwu orthography, a compromise between the older Lepsius orthography and a newer orthography advocated by the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures (IIALC), was agreed in 1962. The orthography of a language specifies the correct way of writing in that language. ... A dialect (from the Greek word διάλεκτος, dialektos) is a variety of a language characteristic of a particular group of the languages speakers. ... Karl Richard Lepsius 1810 - 1884 Karl (or Carl) Richard Lepsius (December 23, 1810–July 10, 1884) was a pioneering Egyptologist and linguist. ... A poem by PASCHAL CHINONYEREM IHENACHO I Am New In School. ...


The dialect form gaining widest acceptance, Central Igbo, is based on the dialects of two members of the Ezinehite group of Igbos in Central Owerri Province between the towns of Owerri and Umuahia, Eastern Nigeria. From its proposal as a literary form in 1939 by Dr. Ida C. Ward, it was gradually accepted by missionaries, writers, and publishers across the region. In 1972, the Society for Promoting Igbo Language and Culture (SPILC), a nationalist organisation which saw Central Igbo as an imperialist exercise, set up a Standardisation Committee to extend Central Igbo to be a more inclusive language. Standard Igbo aims to cross-pollinate Central Igbo with words from Igbo dialects from outside the "Central" areas, and with the adoption of loan words. Ida Caroline Ward (1880 - 1949) was a British linguist working mainly on African languages who has done influential work in the domains of phonology and tonology. ... A loanword (or a borrowing) is a word taken in by one language from another. ...


In 1999, Chinua Achebe, the most internationally famous Igbo speaker, passionately denounced Standard Igbo and its ancestors as colonial and conservative impositions on the rich range of Igbo dialects. To illustrate his point, he delivered his lecture in a dialect peculiar only to Onitsha speakers, which was almost unintelligible to more than half the audience. Chinua Achebe (born November 16, 1930) is a Nigerian novelist and poet, an esteemed and controversial literary critic, and one of the most widely read authors of the 20th century. ...


Usage

Igbo is mainly a spoken and colloquial language today, and not much Igbo literature exists. Reading and writing Igbo is not very widespread either, and Igbo is mostly used as a spoken language. Although Igbo is taught at all levels in eastern Nigerian schools, English remains the literary language that is to be studied extensively. In many urban areas, Nigerian Pidgin English often replaces Igbo. Nigerian Pidgin English is a version of English with Nigerian elements (words, gestures, and connotations) added in. ...


Vocabulary

Igbo, like many other West African languages, has borrowed many words from English. Example loanwords include the Igbo word for blue ("blu") and operator ("opareto").


Many names in Igbo are actually fusions of older original words and phrases. For example, one Igbo word for green is "akwukwo nri," which literally means "leaves for eating," or "vegetables." Another example is train ("ugbo igwe"), which comes from the words "ugbo" (vehicle, craft) and "igwe" (iron, metal); thus a locomotive train is vehicle via iron (rails) , a car "ugbo ala" ; vehicle via land and an aeroplane "ugbo elu" ; vehicle via air. Words may also take on multiple meanings. Take for example the word "akwukwo." "Akwukwo" originally means "leaf" (as on a tree), but during and after the colonization period, akwukwo also came to mean "paper," "book," "school," and "education." This is because printed paper can be first likened to an organic leaf, and then the paper to a book, the book to a school, and so on. Combined with other words, "akwukwo" can take on many forms — for example, "akwukwo ego" means "printed money" or "bank notes," and "akwukwo eji eje ije" means "passport." "akwukwo ndu" means "life green leaf on a tree" because "ndu" means "life".


Proverbs

Proverbs and idiomatic expressions are highly valued by the Igbo people and proficiency in the language means knowing how to intersperse speech with a good dose of proverbs. Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart describes proverbs as "the palm oil with which words are eaten". Proverbs are widely used in the traditional society to describe, in very few words, what could have otherwise required a thousand words. Chinua Achebe (born November 16, 1930) is a Nigerian novelist and poet, an esteemed and controversial literary critic, and one of the most widely read authors of the 20th century. ... For other uses, see Things Fall Apart (disambiguation). ...


Sounds

Igbo is a tonal language with two distinctive tones; high and low. In some cases a third, downstepped high tone is also recognized. The language features vowel harmony with two sets of vowels distinguished by pharyngeal cavity size and can also be described in terms of "advanced tongue root" (ATR). It has been suggested that Tonal language be merged into this article or section. ... Vowel harmony (also metaphony) is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels. ... The pharynx (plural: pharynges) is the part of the neck and throat situated immediately posterior to the mouth and nasal cavity, and cranial, or superior, to the esophagus, larynx, and trachea. ...


In some dialects, such as Enu-Onitsha Igbo, the doubly articulated /g͡b/ and /k͡p/ are realized as a voiced/devoiced bilabial implosive. The approximant /ɹ/ is realized as an alveolar tap [ɾ] between vowels as in árá. Implosive consonants are glottalic ingressive consonants, meaning that air is sucked into the mouth while pronouncing them rather than expelled out of the mouth via the lungs as in pulmonic consonants. ... The alveolar tap or flap is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. ...

Vowel phonemes of Standard Igbo
Consonant phonemes of Standard Igbo
Bilabial Labio-
dental
Dental Alveolar Post-
alveolar
Palatal Velar Labialized
velar
Glottal Labial-
velar
Plosives p b t d k g k͡p g͡b
Nasals m n ŋ ŋʷ
Fricatives f s z ʃ ɣ ɦ
Affricates ʧ ʤ
Approximants ɹ j w
Lateral
approximant
l

Syllables are of the form (C)V (optional consonant, vowel) or N (a syllabic nasal). CV is the most common syllable type. Every syllable bears a tone. Consonant clusters do not occur. The semivowels j and w can occur between consonant and vowel in some syllables. The semi-vowel in CjV is analyzed as an underlying vowel 'ị', so that -bịa is the phonemic form of bjá 'come'. On the other hand, 'w' in CwV is analysed as an instance of labialization; so the phonemic form of the verb -gwá 'tell' is /-gʷá/. Image File history File links Description: IPA vowel chart for Igbo. ... In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. ... In phonetics, labiodentals are consonants articulated with the lower lips and the upper teeth, or viceversa. ... In phonetics, labiodentals are consonants articulated with the lower lips and the upper teeth, or viceversa. ... Dentals are consonants such as t, d, n, and l articulated with either the lower or the upper teeth, or both, rather than with the gum ridge as in English. ... Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli (the sockets) of the superior teeth. ... Postalveolar (or palato-alveolar) consonants are consonants articulated with the tip of the tongue between the alveolar ridge (the place of articulation for alveolar consonants) and the palate (the place of articulation for palatal consonants). ... Postalveolar (or palato-alveolar) consonants are consonants articulated with the tip of the tongue between the alveolar ridge (the place of articulation for alveolar consonants) and the palate (the place of articulation for palatal consonants). ... Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the middle or back part of the tongue raised against the hard palate (the middle part of the roof of the mouth). ... Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate (the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum). ... The vocal cords, also known as vocal folds, are composed of twin infoldings of mucous membrane stretched horizontally across the human larynx. ... A stop or plosive or occlusive is a consonant sound produced by stopping the airflow in the vocal tract. ... A nasal consonant is produced when the velum—that fleshy part of the palate near the back—is lowered, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... An affricate is a consonant that begins like a stop (most often an alveovelar, such as [t] or [d]) and that doesnt have a release of its own, but opens directly into a fricative (or, in one language, into a trill). ... Approximants are speech sounds that could be regarded as intermediate between vowels and typical consonants. ... A nasal stop is produced when the velum—that fleshy part of the palate near the back—is lowered, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. ...


Writing system

The most commonly-used orthography for Igbo is currently the Onwu (/oŋwu/) Alphabet. It is presented in the following table, with the International Phonetic Alphabet equivalents for the characters: Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ...

Igbo Alphabet
(Onwu)
IPA Igbo Alphabet
(Onwu)
IPA
a /a/ /ɔ/
b /b/ p /p/
gb /ɓ/ ~ /ɡ͡b/ kp /ɓ̥/ ~ /k͡p/
d /d/ r /ɾ/
e /e/ s /s/
f /f/ sh /ʃ/
g /ɡ/ t /t/
gh /ɣ/ u /u/
h /h/ /ʊ/
i /i/ v /v/
/ɪ/ w /w/
j /ʤ/ y /j/
k /k/ z /z/
l /l/ ch /ʧ/
m /m/ and /m̩/ gw /ɡʷ/
n /n/ and /n̩/ kw /kʷ/
/ŋ/ nw /ŋw/
o /o/ ny /nj/

The graphemes <gb> and <kp> are described both as implosives and as coarticulated /ɡ/+/b/ and /k/+/p/, thus both values are included in the table. Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ...


<m> and <n> each represent two phonemes: a nasal consonant and a syllabic nasal.


Tones are sometimes indicated in writing, and sometimes not. When tone is indicated, low tones are shown with a grave accent over the vowel, for example <a> <à>, and high tones with an acute accent over the vowel, for example <a> <á>.


External links

Wikipedia
Igbo language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • Ethnologue report on the Igbo language
  • Igbo Language Center
  • A History of the Igbo Language
  • Achebe and the Problematics of Writing in Indigenous Languages
  • Uwandiigbo: Learning Igbo on the Internet
  • An insight guide to Igboland’s Culture and Language

Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1058x1058, 477 KB) aa Wikipedia logo, version 1058px square, no text Wikipedia logo by Nohat (concept by Paullusmagnus); compare Wikipedia File links The following pages link to this file: Arabic language Talk:Anarcho-capitalism Talk:Algorithm Talk:Anno Domini Talk:The... Wikipedia (IPA: , or ( ) is a multilingual, web-based, free content encyclopedia project, operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization. ...

References

  • Awde, Nicholas and Onyekachi Wambu (1999) Igbo: Igbo-English/English-Igbo Dictionary and Phrasebook New York: Hippocrene Books.
  • Emenanjo, 'Nolue (1976) Elements of Modern Igbo Grammar. Ibadan: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-154-078-8
  • International Phonetic Association (1999) Handbook of the International Phonetic Association ISBN 0-521-63751-1

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Igbo language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (904 words)
Igbo is a language spoken in Nigeria by around 18 million speakers (the Igbo), especially in the southeastern region once identified as Biafra.
Although Igbo is taught at all levels in eastern Nigerian schools, English remains the literary language that is to be studied extensively.
Igbo is a tonal language with two distinctive tones; high and low.
Igbo People (505 words)
It is believed that the Igbo originated in an area about 100 miles north of their current location at the confluence of the Niger and Benue Rivers.
The earliest surviving Igbo art forms are from the 10th century (Igbo Ukwu), and the fine quality of those copper alloy castings suggest that Igbo society had already achieved a level of technology rivaling contemporary Europeans.
As a result of regional and political fragmentation, which is mirrored in the several distinct languages traditionally spoken by the hundreds of different village groups, it would be reductionist to attempt to illustrate the traditional religious practices of the Igbo as a whole.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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