Ijoid Languages
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Ijoid Languages
Southern Nigeria
Linguistic classificationNiger-Congo?

Ijoid is a proposed but undemonstrated group of languages linking the Ijaw languages (?j?) with the endangered Defaka language. The similarities, however, may be due to Ijaw influence on Defaka.[2]

The Ijoid, or perhaps just Ijaw, languages form a divergent branch of the Niger-Congo family and are noted for their subject-object-verb basic word order, which is otherwise an unusual feature in Niger-Congo, shared only by such distant branches as Mande and Dogon. Like Mande and Dogon, Ijoid lacks even traces of the noun class system considered characteristic of Niger-Congo, and so might have split early from that family. Linguist Gerrit Dimmendaal doubts its inclusion in Niger-Congo altogether and considers the Ijaw/Ijoid languages to be an independent family.[3][4]

Comparative vocabulary

Sample basic vocabulary for Proto-Ijaw, Kalabari, and Defaka:

Language eye ear nose tooth tongue mouth blood bone tree water eat name
Proto-Ijaw[5] *t?r?³ *?eri¹ *n?n?³ *aka² *l² *p?² *as?¹ *?gb?u² *t?² *?ed?i¹ *f² *?r?²
Kalabari[6] tr ?eri nín? áká l ímgbe ?mb?-yé, pulo sn minji f r
Defaka[6] y? ?asi níni n?an m?nd ?bua asi ibo tiin mbá éé


Comparison of numerals in individual languages:[7]

Classification Language 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Defaka Defaka ?bérí mààmà táátó túún mààn?ò túààmà (5 + 2) ? túàtùà (5 + 3) ? túùnèì (5 + 4) ? wóì
Ijo, East, Northeastern Nkoroo ?brí màmì tárú n sn sóníá snmà nínì ísíéní ójí
Ijo, East, Northeastern, Eastern Ibani ? m?m? tr íní sn sóní snmà ínínè éséníé àtìé / ójí
Ijo, East, Northeastern, Eastern Okrika (Kalabari) èi t?r? ine? s?n? sonio s?n?m ninè esenie oji, àtèi
Ijo, West Ijo Izon (Ijaw/Ijo) (1) k?n mam t?r? nóín snrn =sr ? s?ndie snma nín?íni isé óí
Ijo, West Ijo Izon (Ijaw/Ijo) (2) k?n mam t?r? nóín snrn =sr ? s?ndie snma nín?íni isé óí
Ijo, West Ijo Izon (Ijaw/Ijo) (3) k?n maam t?ar? nóín snrn =sr ? s?ndie snma níníni or nín?íni isé oyi/ óí
Ijo, West, Inland Ijo Okordia kn? maam? taar? nii s?r szie / sz? s?n?mà màà fùi sioni, eji karama (10 - 1) eji


  • Jenewari, Charles E. W. (1989) 'Ijoid'. In Bendor-Samuel, John and Hartell, Rhonda L. (eds.), The Niger-Congo languages: A classification and description of Africa's largest language family, 105-118. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
  • Williamson, Kay. 1969. 'Igbo' and '?j?', chapters 7 and 8 in: Twelve Nigerian Languages, ed. by E. Dunstan. Longmans.
  • Williamson, Kay. 1971. The Benue-Congo languages and ?j?. In: Current Trends in Linguistics, Vol. 7, series ed. by T. A. Sebeok, 245-306.
  • Williamson, Kay. 1988. Linguistic evidence for the prehistory of the Niger Delta. In: The Prehistory of the Niger Delta, ed. by E.J. Alagoa and others. Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag.
  • Williamson, Kay. 1998. Defaka revisited. The multi-disciplinary approach to African history, edited by Nkparom C. Ejituwu, Chapter 9, 151-183. Port Harcourt: University of Port Harcourt Press.
  • Williamson, Kay. 2004. The language situation in the Niger Delta. Chapter 2 in: The development of ?z?n language, edited by Martha L. Akpana, 9-13.
  • Williamson, Kay & Blench, Roger (2000) 'Niger-Congo', in Heine, Bernd and Nurse, Derek (eds) African Languages: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University press, pp. 11-42.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ijoid". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Roger Blench, Niger-Congo: an alternative view
  3. ^ Dimmendaal, Gerrit Jan (2011-01-01). Historical Linguistics and the Comparative Study of African Languages. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-9027211781.
  4. ^ Babaev, Kirill. "Joseph Greenberg and the Current State of Niger-Congo".
  5. ^ Blench, Roger M. and Kay Williamson. 2007. Comparative Ijoid Word List. Unpublished Manuscript.
  6. ^ a b Jenewari, Charles E. W. 1983. Defaka: Ijo's closest relative. (Delta Series, 2.) University of Port Harcourt Press. ISBN 978-2321-39-7
  7. ^ Chan, Eugene (2019). "The Niger-Congo Language Phylum". Numeral Systems of the World's Languages.

External links

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