Edo language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Native toNigeria
RegionEdo State
EthnicityEdo people
Native speakers
2 million (2020)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-2bin
ISO 639-3bin
Location of Edo speakers in Nigeria.

Edo /ˈɛd/[2] (with diacritics, Ẹ̀dó), colloquially and often referred to as Bini, is the language spoken by the Edo ethnic group in Edo State, Nigeria. Benin is not a language but, rather, the name of the capital city, and the name of the Kingdom. Edo language is the native tongue of the Edo people and was the primary language of the Benin Empire and its predecessor, Igodomigodo for thousands of years. Edo language is the majority language spoken in Edo State, particularly in Benin City, and the surrounding local governments and senatorial districts in the Southern parts of the State. While everyone from the state are referred to as Edolites, but the Edo speaking people are known as the Edos.


Most of the Edo language-speakers live in the Southern parts of Edo State, Nigeria.The current state: Edo State derives its name from the Edo speaking people of the state. A smaller number of Edo speakers are also found in Delta State and Ondo State and in other parts of Nigeria.

Edo is an Edoid language. This languages are also spoken in Rivers State and Bayelsa State, Nigeria.



There are seven vowels, /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/, all of which may be long or nasal, and three tones.

Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a


Edo has a rather average consonant inventory for an Edoid language. It maintains only a single phonemic nasal, /m/, but has 13 oral consonants, /r, l, ʋ, j, w/ and the 8 stops, which have nasal allophones such as [n, ɲ, ŋʷ], and nasalized allophones [ʋ̃, j̃, w̃] before nasal vowels.

Labial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labio-velar Glottal
Nasal m
Plosive p  b
[pm bm]
t  d
[tn dn]
k  ɡ
[kŋ ɡŋ]
k͡p  ɡ͡b
[k͡pŋ͡m ɡ͡bŋ͡m]
Fricative f  v s  z x  ɣ ɦ
Trill r
Close approximant ɹ̝̊  ɹ̝
Open approximant ʋ
[ɲ] [j̃]
[ŋʷ] [w̃]

The three rhotics have been described as voiced and voiceless trills as well as a lax English-type approximant. However, Ladefoged[3]: 241  found all three to be approximants, with the voiced–voiceless pair being raised (without being fricatives) and perhaps at a slightly different place of articulation compared to the third but not trills.


Syllable structure is simple, being maximally CVV, where VV is either a long vowel or /i, u/ plus a different oral or nasal vowel.


The Edo alphabet has separate letters for the nasalised allophones of /ʋ/ and /l/, mw and n:

A B D E F G Gb Gh H I K Kh Kp L M Mw N O P R Rh Rr S T U V Vb W Y Z
/a/ /b/ /d/ /e/ /ɛ/ /f/ /ɡ/ /⁠ɓˠ⁠/ /ɣ/ /ɦ/ /i/ /k/ /x/ /kp/ /l/ /m/ [ʋ̃] [n] /o/ /ɔ/ /p/ /r/ /ɹ̝̊/ /ɹ̝/ /s/ /t/ /u/ /v/ /ʋ/ /w/ /j/ /z/

Long vowels are written by doubling the letter. Nasal vowels may be written with a final -n or with an initial nasal consonant. Tone may be written with acute accent, grave accent, and unmarked, or with a final -h (-nh with a nasal vowel).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Edo at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
  3. ^ Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19815-6.

Further reading[edit]

  • Adénéyì, Harrison 'Rótìmí (2007). A morphology of Edo (MA thesis). University of Ibadan. doi:10.5281/zenodo.3625750.
  • Adeniyi, Harrison (2007). "A comparative study of reduplication in Edo and Yoruba". MorphOn: e-Journal of Morphology: 1–23.
  • Ajiboye, Oladiipo Jacob (2001). "A comparative study of Èdó and Yorùbá gerunds". University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics. 4.
  • Aluede, Charles O.; Braimah, Abu A. (2005). "Edo folk songs as sources of historical reconstruction". Studies of Tribes and Tribals. 3 (2): 123–128. doi:10.1080/0972639X.2005.11886528. S2CID 49571460.
  • Baker, Mark C. On the Interplay of the Universal and the Particular: Case Studies from Edo. 35th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society. Chicago.
  • Baker, Mark C.; Osumuyimen, Thompson Stewart (2001). "Unaccusativity and the adjective/verb distinction: Èdó evidence". University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics. 4.
  • Dunn, Ernest F. (1968). An Introduction to Bini. African Monograph. Vol. 8. assisted by Agheyisi, Rebecca N. East Lansing: African Studies Center, Michigan State University. LCCN 77629241. OCLC 614956253.
  • Emovon, Joshua A. (1979). A phonological study of Edo (Bini), with special reference to the verbal phrase (MPhil thesis). SOAS, University of London. doi:10.25501/SOAS.00029261.
  • Imasuen, Ekhato Otamere (1998–1999). "Languages in contact: the case of Edo and Portuguese". Journal of West African Languages. 27: 39–50.
  • Manfredi, Victor B. (2003). "A fonosyntactic parameter within Benue-Kwa and its consequences for Edó". In Sauzet, Patrick; Zribi-Hertz, Anne (eds.). Typologie des langues d'Afrique et universaux de la grammaire. Paris: L'Harmattan. pp. 127–162.
  • Morrison, Megan (2001). "Plurality and multiplicity in Èdó and English". University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics. 4.
  • Naumann, Ralf; Gamerschlag, Thomas (2020). "Serial verb constructions and covert coordinations in Edo – an analysis in Type Logical Grammar". Journal of Language Modelling. 8: 337–413.
  • Ogie, Ota (2001). "Some comments on Èdó syntax". Africa & Asia: Göteborg working papers on Asian and African languages and literatures. 1: 50–59. S2CID 64227751.
  • Ogie, Ota (2003). "About Multi-verb Constructions in Edo". Proceedings of the workshop on Multi-Verb constructions (PDF). Trondheim Summer School.
  • Ogie, Ota (2009). Multi-Verb Constructions in È̱DÓ (PhD thesis). NTNU. hdl:11250/243996.
  • Omozuwa, Edosa Victor (1998). "A spectographic study of Edo [ɹ] and [l]". Onsei Kenkyu: Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan. 2 (3). Archived from the original on 2022-05-08.
  • Sheedy, Cory R. C. (2001). "Grammatical tones in Èdó: an optimality theoretic account". University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics. 4.
  • Wescott, Roger W. (1962). A Bini grammar. Vol. 1: Phonology. East Lansing: African Languages and Area Center, Michigan State University.
  • Wescott, Roger W. (1962). A Bini grammar. Vol. 2: Morphology. East Lansing: African Languages and Area Center, Michigan State University.
  • Woo, Florence Fung Lam (2001). "Serial verb constructions in Èdó and Cantonese". University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics. 4.
  • Yuka, Lendzemo Constantine; Mercy, Omoregbe (2006). "Re as a post-verbal free form in Edo: a morpho-semantic re-analysis". MorphOn: e-Journal of Morphology: 1–13.

External links[edit]