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The Ijaw languages (/ˈɔː/),[2] also spelt Ịjọ,[3] are the languages spoken by the Ijo people in southern Nigeria.

Classification

The Ijo languages are traditionally considered a distinct branch of the Niger–Congo family (perhaps along with Defaka in a group called Ijoid).[4] They are notable for their subject–object–verb basic word order, which is otherwise an unusual feature in Niger–Congo, shared only by such distant potential branches as Mande and Dogon. Like Mande and Dogon, Ijoid lacks even traces of the noun class system considered characteristic of Niger–Congo. This motivated Joseph Greenberg, in his initial classification of Niger–Congo, to describe them as having split early from that family. However, owing to the lack of these features, Linguist Gerrit Dimmendaal doubts their inclusion in Niger–Congo altogether and considers the Ijoid languages to be an independent family.[5]

The following internal classification is based on Jenewari (1989) and Williamson & Blench (2000).

Blench (2019) moves Southeast Ijo into the West (or Central) branch.[6]

Names and locations

Below is a list of Ijaw language names, populations, and locations from Blench (2019).[6]

The Ijo languages are traditionally considered a distinct branch of the Niger–Congo family (perhaps along with Defaka in a group called Ijoid).[4] They are notable for their subject–object–verb basic word order, which is otherwise an unusual feature in Niger–Congo, shared only by such distant potential branches as Mande and Dogon. Like Mande and Dogon, Ijoid lacks even traces of the noun class system considered characteristic of Niger–Congo. This motivated Joseph Greenberg, in his initial classification of Niger–Congo, to describe them as having split early from that family. However, owing to the lack of these features, Linguist Gerrit Dimmendaal doubts their inclusion in Niger–Congo altogether and considers the Ijoid languages to be an independent family.[5]

The following internal classification is based on Jenewari (1989) and Williamson & Blench (2000).

Blench (2019) moves Southeast Ijo into the West (or Central) branch.[6]

Southeast Ijo into the West (or Central) branch.[6]

Language Cluster Alternate spellings Own name for language Endonym(s) Other names (location-based) Other names for language Speakers Location(s)
Nembe–Akaha cluster Nembe–Akaha Brass–Ịjọ 71,500 (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin) Rivers State, Brass LGA
Nembe Nembe–Akaha Nimbi Nembe Brass (older term not giving way to Nembe), Nempe, Itebu (Cust 1883); (Nembe) Brass (Tepowa 1904); Nembe–Brass (Book of Common Prayer, 1957); Ijo (Nembe) (Bible, 1956); Brass–Nembe–Ijaw (Rowlands, 1960); Nembe–Ịjọ (Alagoa, 1967). 66,600 (1963) Rivers State, Brass LGA, Nembe, Ọkpọma and Tụwọn (Brass) towns and nearby villages
Akaha Nembe–Akaha Akasa, Akassaa Akaha Akaha 4,913 (1963) Rivers State, Brass LGA, Opu–Akassa town and nearby hamlets
Nkọrọ Nkọrọ Nkoro
Language Cluster Alternate spellings Own name for language Endonym(s) Other names (location-based) Other names for language Speakers Location(s)
Nembe–Akaha cluster Nembe–Akaha Brass–Ịjọ 71,500 (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin) Rivers State, Brass LGA
Nembe Nembe–Akaha Nimbi Nembe Brass (older term not giving way to Nembe), Nempe, Itebu (Cust 1883); (Nembe) Brass (Tepowa 1904); Nembe–Brass (Book of Common Pray

Berbice Creole Dutch, an extinct creole spoken in Guyana, had a lexicon based partly on an Ịjọ language, perhaps the ancestor of Kalabari (Kouwenberg 1994).

Education and media

In June 2013, the Izon Fie instructional book and audio CDs were launched at a ceremony attended by officials of the government of Bayelsa State. The Niger Delta University is working to expand the range of books available in the Ijo language. Translations of poetry and the Call of the River Nun by Gabriel Okara are underway.[7]

See also

References

  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ijo". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
  3. ^ generally pronounced In June 2013, the Izon Fie instructional book and audio CDs were launched at a ceremony attended by officials of the government of Bayelsa State. The Niger Delta University is working to expand the range of books available in the Ijo language. Translations of poetry and the Call of the River Nun by Gabriel Okara are underway.[7]

    See also