|Region||Ogoja, Cross River State|
Mbe is a language spoken by the Mbube people of the Ogoja, Cross River State region of Nigeria, numbering about 14,300 people in 1973. As the closest relative of the Ekoid family of the Southern Bantoid languages, Mbe is fairly close to the Bantu languages. It is tonal and has a typical Niger–Congo noun-class system.
Vowels are i e ɛ a ɔ o u.
Mbe has a rather elaborate consonant inventory compared to the Ekoid languages, presumably due to contact from neighbouring Upper Cross River languages.
All Mbe consonants apart from the labial–velars (kp ɡb w) and n have labialised counterparts. (/jʷ/ is presumably [ɥ].) In addition, the non-labialised peripheral stops (m p b k ɡ; palatalised ŋ would be ɲ) and the liquids (l r) have palatalised counterparts.
|m mʷ mʲ||n||ɲ ɲʷ||ŋ ŋʷ|
|p pʷ pʲ||t tʷ||k kʷ̜ kʷ̹ kʲ||kp|
|b bʷ bʲ||d dʷ||ɡ ɡʷ ɡʲ||ɡb|
|ts tsʷ||tʃ tʃʷ|
|dz dzʷ||dʒ dʒʷ|
|f fʷ||s sʷ||ʃ ʃʷ|
|r rʷ lʲ|
|l lʷ lʲ||j jʷ||w|
There are a few consonants that only occur in ideophones, such as /fʲ hʲ/.
An interesting additional contrast is between fortis and lenis /kʷ/. Fortis (long?) /kʷ̹/ half-rounds a following vowel such as /e/, whereas lenis /kʷ̜/ does not. This distinction may be being lost. (Blench)
Tones are high, low, rising, falling and a downstep; rising and falling may be tone sequences.
- Roger Blench, 'Ekoid' (with Mbe)
- Mbe at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mbe". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Blench, Roger (2019). An Atlas of Nigerian Languages (4th ed.). Cambridge: Kay Williamson Educational Foundation.
- Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com/
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ekoid–Mbe". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.