Evolution Of The Igbo Language Part V
By Iwedi Ojinmah 15 days ago
Igbo (Asụsụ Igbo), one of the largest languages of West Africa is spoken by 18 million people in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.
It belongs to the Benue-Congo group of the Niger-Congo language family.
The language is thought to have originated around the 9th century AD in the area near the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers and then spread over a wide area of southeastern Nigeria.
Igbo as in Equatorial Guinea is one of the official languages of Nigeria. It is spoken in the Southern Delta states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo, as well as in the northeast of the Delta state and in the southeast of the Rivers state. In the states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo, Igbo is the main language of trade and commerce. It is used in mass media communication such as radio and television in the southern Delta region as well.
In Nigeria alone, there are approximately 30 Igbo dialects, some of which are not mutually intelligible. For the most part, however, differences are lexical and phonological (Ethnologue). A large number of dialects has hindered the development of a standardized spoken and written Igbo. Standard literary Igbo, based on the Owerri and Umuahia dialects, in use since 1962, is not universally accepted by speakers of other dialects. Standard Igbo aims to include words from other Igbo dialects as well as loanwords from other languages.
But to reach this point it took time and a continuous evolution of the language. The Awareness takes a look at the complete timeline of the language in a 5 part series and invites you to join us as we step back into the past.
Here is our final segment of the series Part V.
THE STANDARD IGBO PERIOD (1972 - PRESENT)
During this final part of the evolution of the Igbo Language, Standard or Modern Igbo was designed to be spoken and understood by all, because it was more flexible than Isuama, Union or the "Central" dialect. It was a cross-pollination and diffusion of dialects.
1972 == SPILC set up its Standardization Committee. Its main objectives were to adopt words from different dialects of Igbo, whether or not they belonged to the "Central" dialect areas, for the purpose of enriching the Igbo language. It was also liberal with the adoption of loan words where there were no Igbo equivalents.
1973 == August: SPILC approved the recommendation of its Standardization Committee about the spelling of Igbo words
1974 == By intensive lobbying, SPILC brought about the establishment of the Dept. of Igbo Language and Culture at Alvan Ikoku College of Education (below)
Related: Ahiajoku Lecture: Prof. Michael Echeruo Rubbishes Igbo-Jewish Link In Ogueri Mba 2019 Presentation
1976 == August: SPILC recommended the rearrangement of Igbo alphabet
1978 == The Department of Igbo Language and Culture was started, with the opening of Anambra State College of Education at Awka, with F. C. Ogbalu as Head of Department