Archive for the ‘Kalabari (ijn)’ Category

Cumpulsory Ijaw in Bayelsa Schools

15 September 2011

As the coastline of West Africa turns south, it runs along the border of Bayelsa, a state in Nigeria. As in the rest of Nigeria, the official language is English; however, Ijaw (Ijoid family) languages are widely spoken in Bayelsa by the Ijaw people.

According to “Ijaw language to be made compulsory in Bayelsa’s schools,” in a move to protect Ijaw against the erosion by Western culture, the State House of Assembly passed a resolution making Ijaw learning mandatory in schools. As the State House of Assembly is apparently the only legislative body in the state, the majority vote makes the resolution law.

According to the Ethnologue, there are 10 Ijoid languages with 1.75 million speakers:

  • Biseni (ije) – 4,800 speakers (1977)
  • Defaka (afn) – 200 speakers (2001)
  • Ibani (iby) – 60,000 speakers (1989)
  • Izon (ijc) – 1.1 million speakers (1989 to 1991)
  • Kalabari (ijn) – 258,000 speakers (1989)
  • Kirike (okr) – 248,000 speakers (1995)
  • Nkoroo (nkx) – 4,550 speakers (1989)
  • Okodia (okd) – 3,600 speakers (1977)
  • Oruma (orr) – 5,000 speakers (1995)
  • Southeast Ijo (ijs) – 71,500 speakers (1977)

Of these, Defaka is the most endangered at only 200 speakers (according to a report a decade ago), and the Wikipedia article reports all children grow up speaking Nkoroo. While Izon, Kalaari and Kiriki each have more than 200K speakers, all of the Ijoid languages have only a small population.

According to “Bayelsa Makes Ijaw Language Compulsory,” the resolution includes language for a campaign to “encourage the speaking of the Ijaw native languages in homes,” so hopefully all of the Ijoid languages will receive support.

For a glossary of perhaps more than 1000 Ijaw words, see The Ijaw Dictionary Online.

ELF Newsletter

30 September 2006

The ELF newsletter is out and looks sharp. No fewer than 11 grants were made in 2006, benefitting projects for 12 languages and language groups: Arapaso (arj), Ghulfan (ghl), Kalabari (ijn), Karinya/Carib (car), Karapana (link to lineage), Kundal Shahi language (link to lineage), the signed Meemul Tziij complex (no Ethnologue entry), Pasi (listed as adi), Quichua/Ecuadorian (qvo), Southern Tiwa (tix), Tutudin (perhaps equivalent to tuu Tututni), Yakima Sahaptin (yak).

These languages represent a wide range of human culture over four continents. Projects include a children’s dictionary, dialect clarification, a language camp, and historical clarification of possibly the oldest documentable sign languages in the world.

Among the news is that ELF newsletter editor Nick Emlen is running a marathon to benefit the ELF, tomorrow, in Portland.

Get involved! In addition to joining the ELF, attend a lecture by Noam Chomsky on November 15, 2006, regarding language diversification to benefit the ELF. In addition to the lecture, there will be a separate reception.