What are Yoruba people language peculiarities?

African Yoruba people are numerous and well known in the whole world, as their history and modern age are very interesting.


In fact, it is several kindred nations (about 30 million of representatives), who are belonging to the Negroid race and living in West Africa in the area of the river Niger, so, the distribution area covers several countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin.

Language and religion of the Yoruba people, even today, is a very interesting and attractive thing for scientists, as its contribution to the history is unique. These Africans are the creators of a particular civilization in this part of the continent, which is known by the holy city-state called Ile-Ife. There are still a lot of questions and hypotheses due to the excavations in this city, so the interest is not damped.


The Yoruba language belongs to the Kwa languages; written language is based on the Latin alphabet. Yoruba is distributed mainly to the west and southwest Nigeria, as well as in the central and western regions of Benin, in the eastern part of the Central Togo.

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The Yoruba Language is broken down into eight major dialects, which are different mainly due to phonetic peculiarities. The division into dialects roughly corresponds to the tribal division and administrative division of Nigeria into provinces. The most important dialects: Oyo (Yoruba itself); Ife, Ijebu, Egba, Ekiti, Ondo, Igbomina, Itshekiri and Anago. The Yoruba Language has long been used in the circles of merchants, which contributed to its spread. Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa are recognized as three official languages of Nigeria. Within the western and south-western Nigeria, the Yoruba language is used in magazines and newspapers, different radio programs. Yoruba is taught in primary and secondary schools. The language of Yoruba is used as the basis for religious, educational, ethnographic, historical literature.


The Yoruba language has such peculiarities:

  • it has seven oral and five nasal vowels, as well as elision and vowel harmony system;
  • there are no diphthongs in Yoruba;
  • monosyllabic and disyllabic words dominate;
  • high, low and medium tone is clearly distinguished, but there are also moving (rising and falling) tones;
  • the tone has semantic meaning;
  • there is no grammatical gender and declension of nouns;  
  • the verb has no person, number, voice characteristics;
  • syntactic relations are expressed by firm word order and auxiliary words. 

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