Kalabari language

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Native to Nigeria
Region Rivers State
Ethnicity Kalabari, Ibani
Native speakers
(570,000 cited 1989–1995)[1]
  • Kalabari
  • Ibani (Bonny)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
ijn – Kalabari
iby – Ibani
okr – Kirike
Glottolog kaki1246[2]

Kalabari is an Ijaw language of Nigeria spoken in Rivers State and Bayelsa State.[3] Its three dialects are mutually intelligible. The Kalabari dialect (Kalabari proper) is one of the best-documented varieties of Ijaw, and as such is frequently used as the prime example of Ijaw in linguistic literature.

As of 2005, the language, "spoken by 258,000 people, [was] endangered largely because of the massive relocation that has taken place in the area due to the development of Nigeria's oil industry in the Port Harcourt region."[4]

The Kalabari language became the basis of Berbice, a Dutch Creole spoken in Eastern Guyana.[5]

Kalabari language words have been proposed for some modern technical terms.[6]


  1. ^ Kalabari at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Ibani at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Kirike at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "KaKiBa". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ "Kalahari Bibi: Introducing The Kalabari Language". Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  4. ^ "2006 Funded Projects". Endangered Language Fund. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  5. ^ "Ijoid languages". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  6. ^ Iyalla-Amadi, Priye E. (March 2012). "Lexicological Development of Kalabari Language in the Age of Technology: A Comparative Study of French and Kalabari" (PDF). The Journal of Pan African Studies. 5 (1): 154–163. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 

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