Yoruba Language

Yorùbá (èdèYorùbá) is a member of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by some 28 million people, most of whom live in Nigeria. It is also spoken in Benin, Siera Leon, Togo, United Kingdom, USA.

Dialects

The name Yorùbá applies to a continuum of dialects with varying degrees of mutual intelligibility. Ethnologue lists 20 distinct varieties which can be grouped into three major geographic dialect areas characterized by major differences in pronunciation, and, to a lesser degree, in grammar and vocabulary:

• Northwest Yorùbá
• Southeast Yorùbá
• Central Yorùbá

Vowels

Dialects differ in the number of vowels they have. Standard Yorùbá has seven oral and five nasal vowels. Nasal vowels are produced by lowering the soft palate so that air escapes both through the mouth and the nose. There are no diphthongs in Yoruba. Sequences of vowels are pronounced as separate syllables.