Ibibio-Efik languages

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Central Lower Cross
Ethnicity: Annang, Efik, Ibibio, Oron
Akwa Ibom State, Cross River State, Nigeria
Linguistic classification: Niger–Congo
ISO 639-2 / 5: efi
Glottolog: efik1244[1]

Ibibio-Efik, also known as Ibibio and Efik, is the major dialect cluster of the Benue–Congo language family called Cross River. Efik proper has national status in Nigeria and is the literary standard of the Efik languages, though Ibibio proper has more native speakers.[citation needed]


Efik is a dialect cluster spoken by about 3½ million people of Akwa Ibom State and Cross River States of Nigeria, making it the sixth largest language cluster in Nigeria after Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, and Kanuri. Specifically, there are 1 million Anaang (as of 1990); possibly 1½ to 2 million Ibibio (1998, claim since retracted by Ethnologue)—Ibibio is also used as a trade language; and 400,000 Efik; Efik also has about 2 million second-language speakers.

Minor varieties, according to Williamson and Blench,[2] are 200,000 Ekit, 7,000 Efai, 20,000 Ibuoro, 5,000 Eki, 5,000 Idere, and a hundred Ukwa. These arguably constitute a single language, though Ethnologue considers them to be separate.

Forde and Jones (1950)[3] had categorized these as follows:

  • Ibibio proper (incl. Idere etc.): Eastern Ibibio
  • Annang: Western Ibibio
  • Efik: Riverain
  • Eket (Ekit) and Oron: Southern Ibibio
  • Ibeno (Ibino): Delta Ibibio
  • Enyong (now classified as Ibibio proper): Northern Ibibio

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Ibibio-Efik". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ These are varieties of what Williamson and Blench (2000) calls "Central Lower Cross", which they list as "Efik, Ibibio, Anaang, Ibuoro, Ekit, Efai, etc."
  3. ^ Cited in Okon E. Essien, 1986, Ibibio names: their structure and their meanings