Igbomina,Ijesha and Standard Yoruba;A Lexicostatistics analysis

Igbomina,Ijesha and standard Yoruba;a lexicostatistic analysis



This study examines the Igbomina and Ijesha dialects of Yoruba Language in comparison to the Yoruba Language. These languages belong to the Niger Congo Language Family under the Kwa Language Group.

Igbomina and Ijesha dialects are Yoruboid languages spoken in Kwara and Osun State and Ilesha in Osun State respectively.

This work focuses on the level of relatedness between these two dialects with the Yoruba Language; if there are similarities between them and the Yoruba Language.

For this work, we will be using lexical items from the Igbomina and Ijesha dialects spoken in Osun State.

1.0.1 Igbomina

The ‘Igbomina’ (also colloquially Igbonna or Ogbonna) are a sub-group of the Yoruba ethnic group, which originates from the North Central and South-West Nigeria. They speak a dialect called Igbomina or Igbonna, classified among the Central Yoruba of the 3 major Yoruba dialectal areas. The Igbomina spread across what is now Northern Osun State and Eastern Kwara state.

Peripheral areas of the dialectal regions have some similarities to the adjoining Ekiti, Ijesha and Oyo dialects.

The Igbomina land is bounded on the North-West by Ilorin; on the South by Ijesha; on the South-East Ekiti; on the East by the Yagba; and on the North the non-Yoruba Nupe region south of the Niger.

Igbomina is bounded on the West by minor neighbor communities; Ibolo, Offa, Oyan and Okuku in the West.

The Igbomina people are found mainly in Kwara and Osun State of Nigeria and are reported to be more than one million in population. About 90% of these native Yoruba people live in present day Isin, Irepodun and Ifelodun Local government parts of Kwara state, while the remaining are found in Ora and Ila-Orangun areas of Osun state.

1.0.2 Ijesha

The Ijesha (written as Ijesa in Yoruba orthography) are a sub-ethnicity of the Yorubas of West Africa. The Ijesha are predominantly from the city and environs of Ilesha (ilesa) and the historic kingdom of Ilesha in the same area.

It is located in the forest zone of Nigeria but adjacent to the Savannah, it lies in an area with a rich history of ancient human settlement. Oshogbo to the West, Ondo area to the South, Ekiti to the East and Igbomina area to the North.

Much of Ijeshaland lies around the upper reaches of the Rivers Oni, Shasha and Osun.

Ilesha, which was founded in the 16th century has emerged as the modern center of power in Ijeshaland outstripping ancient centers at Ibokun, Ipole and Ijebu-jesa.

The people of Oke-Ado, Irele, Omuo-Oke speak a dialect similar to Ijesha.

Some of the popular towns of the Ijeshas are Ibokun, Erin-Jesa, Ipetu-jesa, Ijebu-jesa, Esa-oke, Ipole, Ifewara, Erinmo, Ilase, Ibodo, Ilesha and many others.

1.0.3 Yoruba Language

Yoruba is a language spoken in West Africa. The number of speakers of Yoruba is around 40 million. It is closely related to the Itsekiri language (spoken in the Niger Delta) and to Igalla (spoken in central Nigeria).

It consists of several dialects which can be classified into 5 major dialect areas; Northwest, Northeast, Central, Southwest and Southeast.

  1. North-west Yoruba (NWY)

Egba, Ibadan, Egbado/Yewa, Oyo, Western Ogun, Lagos/Eko

  • North-East Yoruba (NEY)

Yagba, Owe, Ijumu, Oworo, Gbede, Abunu

  • Central Yoruba (CY)

Igbomina, Ijesha, Ife, Ekiti, Akure, Efon

  • South-East Yoruba (SEY)

Ikale, Ilaje, Ondo city, Owo, Idanre, Akoko, Remo, Ijebu

  • South-West Yoruba (SWY)

Ketu, Awori, Sakete, Ife (Togo), Idasha, Ipokia/Anago

Literary Yoruba, also known as standard Yoruba is a separate member of the dialect cluster. It is variety learned at school and that is spoken by news reader on the radio and television.

It is, for a large part, based on the Oyo and Ibadan dialects, though it also incorporates several features from other dialects.

Because the use of standard Yoruba did not result from some deliberate linguistic policy, much controversy exists as to what constitutes genuine Yoruba with some writers holding the opinion that the Oyo dialect is the most “pure” form and others stating that there is no such thing genuine Yoruba at all.

(This is being written because we are using the Oyo dialect in comparison with Igbomina and Ijesha).

Fig 1: Map of Osun State

map of osun state
  1. Methodology

The data for this work are gotten from several sources. The study will use several two methods of data collection which are the primary and secondary methods.

The primary data involves one-on-one interview with randomly selected native speakers of Ijesha and Igbomina dialects while data from Yoruba will be from the researcher.

The secondary method comprise published materials like those of those of Arokoyo (2016). A Lexicostatistics comparison of Yoruba, Igbo and Olukumi Dialects; Swadesh (1955). Towards Greater accuracy in Lexicostatistic dating; Crystal (2011). Cognate. A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics (6th ed.) and many others.

The analysis of the data collected is done by using the lexicostatistics method to determine levels of related between the languages concerned using Swadesh cut-off mark when calculating the percentile value to determine relatedness.

1.2 Statement of Problem

From the various researches that have been done on this study, it is glaringly obvious that no work has been done on the current study involving the languages in question at any time.

Yes, there are various works on lexicostatistics and also works on dialects in Nigeria like Olukumi dialects (Arokoyo, 2012) and Ezejideaku and Louis (2003)’s work on Etsako dialects using Lexicostatistics, no work has been done on Igbomina and Ijesha dialects with Yoruba language in respect to the lexicostatistic method. This is a major reason for this present study.

1.3 Aims and objectives of Study

The aims and objectives of this study are to determine;

  1. The level of relatedness between Yoruba and Igbomina;
  2. The level of relatedness between Yoruba and Ijesha;
  3. The level of relatedness between Igbomina and Ijesha,Using the lexicostatistics method of analysis

1.4 Scope of Study

This work is to examine the relationship between the Igbomina and Ijesha dialect in comparison with the Yoruba language. To examine the mutual intelligibility between these languages if any, or to ascertain if they have no relationship or little relationship with the Yoruba language.

It focuses on the dialectal aspect of linguistics.

1.5 Significance of study

          The present study is beneficial in many ways. It will examine the relationship between the Igbomina and Ijesha language in comparison with the Yoruba language.

It is significant in that:

  1. students and teachers of the Yoruba language will gain insight into the language of study,
  2.  researchers will be able to reclassify the two dialects that are the concern of this study (if necessary) and also use this study as a basis for any further r research in this area,
  3. the addition of this information will help in bringing to limelight the relationship between the concerned languages and also give the government better insight on the classification of these languages (they will be able to provide researchers with necessary resources.

1.6 Classification of Yoruba Language

“Yoruba belongs to the Kwa group of the Benue-Congo language family. It belongs precisely to the West-Benue Congo family of the Niger-Congo Phylum” (Williamson and Blench 2000:31)

Fig 2: Yoruba Genetic Classification (adapted from Williamson and Blench 2000)


    1. What is the relationship between Igbomina, Ijesha and Yoruba?
    2. What method can be used to show/determine this relationship?
    3. What are the phonological and morphological variants in these languages?

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