Urhobo language

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Native toNigeria
RegionDelta and Bayelsa State
EthnicityUrhobo people
Native speakers
(2,000,000 cited 1993)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3urh
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Urhobo is a South-Western Edoid language[3] spoken by the Urhobo people of southern Nigeria.


Urhobo has a rather reduced system of sound inventory compared to proto-Edoid. The inventory of Urhobo consists of seven vowels; which form two harmonic sets[4], /i e a o u/ and /i ɛ a ɔ u/.[5]

It has a conservative consonant inventory for an Edoid language. It maintains three nasals, and only five oral consonants, /ɺ, l, ʋ, j, w/, have nasal allophones before nasal vowels.

  Labial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labio-velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ      
Plosive p  b t  d c  ɟ k  ɡ k͡p  ɡ͡b  
Fricative ɸ   f  v s  z ɕ  ʑ   ɣ   h
Flap   ɺ [ɾ̃]        
Approximant   ʋ [ʋ̃] l [n] j [ɲ]   w [ŋʷ]  


Urhobo dictionaries have been compiled by Ukere, Osubele, Ebireri Okrokoto of Urhobo Language Institute,[6] and Julius Arerierian.[citation needed]. A wordlist of Nouns and verbs of Okpe, Urhobo and Uvwie was compiled by Akpobọmẹ Diffrẹ-Odiete with funding from Foundation for Endangered Languages.


Urhobo has the SVO constituent order type as illustrated with the example below:

Òtítí	ò   chó	       ọhọ  ná
Otiti  3SG  steal.PST  hen  DET
‘Otiti stole the hen.’


  1. ^ Urhobo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Urhobo". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Elugbe, B. O. 1989. Edoid: Phonology and Lexicon. Port Harcourt: University of Port Harcourt Press
  4. ^ Rolle, N. 2013. “Phonetics and phonology of Urhobo.”UC Berkeley Phonology Lab Annual Report, 2013: 281-326.
  5. ^ Archangeli & Pulleyblank, 1994. Grounded phonology, p 181ff
  6. ^ "Urhobo to English Dictionary" (PDF). urhobolanguageinstitute.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.