Yoruba is one of the four official languages of Nigeria and is
a member of the Volta-Niger branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages.
It is spoken by about 22 million people in southwest Nigeria, Benin,
Togo, the UK, Brazil and the USA.
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.
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)