Ibibio language

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(Ibibio proper)
Native to Southern Nigeria
Region Akwa Ibom State
Ethnicity Ibibio
Native speakers
1.5 to 2 million (1998)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ibb
Glottolog ibib1240[2]

Ibibio (proper) is the native language of the Ibibio people of southern Nigeria. It is the official language of Akwa ibom people.

The name Ibibio is also used for Ibibio-Efik.



Ibibio consonant phonemes[3]
Labial Coronal Palatal Velar Labial-velar
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiceless b t k k͡p
voiced d
Fricative voiceless f s
Approximant j w

Intervocalic plosives are lenited:[3]

  • /b/[β]
  • /t, d/[ɾ]
  • /k/[ɢ̆] or [ɰ]


Ranges for Ibibio monophthongs, from Urua (2004:106)
Ibibio vowel phonemes[3]
Front Back
unrounded unrounded rounded
Close i u
Mid e ʌ o
Open a ɔ
  • /i, u/ are phonetically near-close [ɪ, ʊ].[3]
  • /e, ʌ, o/ are phonetically true-mid; /ʌ/ is also strongly centralized: [, ʌ̝̈, ].[3]
  • /a, ɔ/ are phonetically near-open; /a/ is central rather than front: [ɐ, ɔ̞].[3]

Between consonants, /i, u, o/ have allophones that are transcribed [ɪ, ʉ, ə], respectively.[3] At least in case of [ɪ, ə], the realization is probably somewhat different (e.g. close-mid [e, ɘ]), because the default IPA values of the symbols [ɪ, ə] are very similar to the normal realizations of the Ibibio vowels /i, ʌ/. Similarly, [ʉ] may actually be near-close [ʉ̞], rather than close [ʉ].

In some dialects (e.g. Ibiono), /ɪ, ʉ, ə/ occur as phonemes distinct from /i, u, o/.[3]


Ibibio has two tones: high and low.[5]


  1. ^ Ibibio at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Ibibio". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Urua (2004), p. 106.
  4. ^ Urua (2004), pp. 105–106.
  5. ^ Urua (2004), p. 107.


Further reading[edit]

  • Bachmann, Arne (2006): "Ein quantitatives Tonmodell für Ibibio. Entwicklung eines Prädiktionsmoduls für das BOSS-Sprachsynthesesystem." Magisterarbeit, University of Bonn.
  • Kaufman, Elaine Marlowe (1972) Ibibio dictionary. Leiden: African Studies Centre / Cross River State University / Ibibio Language Board. ISBN 90-70110-46-6

External links[edit]