Yoruba is a member of the Volta-Niger branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages. It is spoken by about 28 million people in southwest Nigeria, Benin, Togo, the UK, Brazil and the USA. It is one of the four official languages of Nigeria, along with English, Hausa and Igbo.
Yoruba first appeared in writing during the 19th century. The first Yoruba publications were a number of teaching booklets produced by John Raban in 1830-2. The person who made the biggest contribution to Yoruba literacy was Bishop Ajayi (Samual) Crowther (1806-1891), who studied many of the languages of Nigeria, including Yoruba, and wrote and translated in some of them. Crowther was also the first Christian bishop of West African origin. A Yoruba orthography appeared in about 1850, though it has undergone a number of changes since then.
You can hear the sounds of the Yoruba alphabet at:
Yoruba is a tonal language with three tones: high, mid and low. The high tone is indicated by an acute accent (á, é, ẹ́, í, ó, ọ́ and ú). The mid tone is not marked and the low tone is marked with a grave acute (à, è, ẹ̀, ì, ò, ọ̀ and ù).
Gbogbo ènìyàn ni a bí ní òmìnira; iyì àti ẹ̀tọ́ kọ̀ọ̀kan sì dọ́gba. Wọ́n ní ẹ̀bùn ti làákàyè àti ti ẹ̀rí-ọkàn, ó sì yẹ kí wọn ó máa hùwà sí ara wọn gẹ́gẹ́ bí ọmọ ìyá.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about Yoruba
Online Yoruba Radio