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Yoruba (èdè Yorùbá)

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.

The Yoruba alphabet (Alufabẹẹti/ABD Yorùbá)

Yoruba Alphabet

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).

Numbers (Cardinal)

(1) ọkan/mení, (2) méjì (3) mẹta (4) mẹrin (5) màrún (6) mẹfà (7) méje (8) mẹjọ (9) mẹsan (10) mẹwa

Numbers (Ordinal)

(1st) èkíní , (2nd) èkejì (3rd) ẹkẹta (4th) ẹkẹrin (5th) èkarùn (6th) ẹkẹfà (7th) èkeje (8th) ẹkẹjọ (9th) ẹkẹsàn (10th) ẹkẹwà

Sample text

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 | Useful phrases in Yoruba | Tower of Babel in Yoruba | Yoruba learning materials


Information about Yoruba

Online Yoruba lessons

Online Yoruba phrases

Online Yoruba dictionary

Online Yoruba Radio

Volta–Niger languages

Ewe, Fon, Igbo, Yorùbá

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet

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