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Ethnicity "Ijaw
Southern "Nigeria
"Linguistic classification "Niger–Congo?
  • East
  • Central–West
"ISO 639-2 / "5 ijo
"Glottolog ijoo1239[1]

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



The Ijaw 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).

In the diaspora[edit]

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

Usage and teaching[edit]

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 Ijaw language. Translations of poetry and the Call of the River Nun by "Gabriel Okara are underway.[6]


  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 "/ˈ/ in English
  4. ^ Williamson, Kay (2011-08-11). A Grammar of the Kolokuma Dialect of Ịjọ. Cambridge University Press. "ISBN "9780521175265. 
  5. ^ Dimmendaal, Gerrit Jan (2011-01-01). Historical Linguistics and the Comparative Study of African Languages. John Benjamins Publishing. "ISBN "9027211787. 
  6. ^ Garba, Kabir Alabi (2013-06-08). "Izon Fie… Popularising An Indigenous Tongue". The Guardian Nigeria. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 


On specific languages

External links[edit]

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