|Central Togo, Southern and Central Benin, Western, Southern and Central Nigeria|
Yoruboid is a 'megagroup' of 14 related dialect/language clades, composed of the Igala group, of related dialects spoken in central Nigeria, and the Edekiri group, the members of which are spoken in a band across Togo, Ghana, Benin and southwestern Nigeria. The name Yoruboid derives from its most widely spoken member, Yoruba, which has more than 35 million speakers. Another well-known Yoruboid language is Itsekiri (Nigeria, 600,000–800,000 speakers). The Yoruboid group is a branch of Defoid, Defoid being a short form of "Ede" the word for Language in most languages within the grouping and - "Foid"). The Defoid group itself is a branch of the Benue–Congo subfamily of the Niger–Congo language family.
Igala is a key Yoruboid language, spoken by 1.8 million people in the Niger-Benue confluence of central Nigeria; it is excised from the main body of Yoruboid languages to the west by Ebirra and the Edo languages. Igala is closely related to both Yoruba and Itsekiri languages.
The Itsekiri's are a riverine Yoruboid people who live in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. They maintain a distinct identity separate from other Yoruboid people but speak a very closely related language. Their neighbouring languages are the Urhobo the Edo, the Ijo, and the Mahin / Ilaje, a Yoruba Dialect spoken in neighbouring Ondo State.
All Yoruboid languages are tonal, with most of them having three level tones. Grammatically, they are isolating with a subject–object–verb basic word order.
|Ede (Yoruba Proper)*||Itsekiri*|
|Western Ede||Mokole||Eastern Ede|
|N. Nago & Kura||Southwestern Ede||Ede Shabe||Southeastern Ede|
|Isha & Manigri||Ede Idaasha||Ana-Ife||Nuclear Yoruba||Ede Ije, South Nago|
|Yoruba - Lucumi||Olukumi*|
|NWY & SWY||Central Yoruba||NEY & SEY|
- All dialects in the Ede cluster share between 85-95% lexical similarity and are thus all mutually intelligible without needing different specialized literature to achieve universal understanding.
- Itsekiri is actually most closely related to SEY (South-Eastern Yoruba), and is a divergent branch thereof, but has a different standard writing orthography.
- Some standards classify Olukumi as separate variant of Nuclear Yoruba, Others as a dialect of SEY.
Names and locations
Below is a list of selected Yoruboid language names, populations, and locations from Blench (2019).
|Language||Dialects||Alternate spellings||Own name for language||Endonym(s)||Other names (location-based)||Other names for language||Exonym(s)||Speakers||Location(s)|
|Ulukwumi||Unukwumi||Fewer than 10,000||Delta State, Aniocha and Oshimili LGAs|
|Igala||Ánkpa and Ògùgù in Ankpa LGA; Ìfè in Ankpa and Dekina LGAs; Ànyìgbá in Dekina LGA; ‘Idáh and Ìbàjì in Idah and Anambra(?) LGAs; and Èbú in Oshimili LGA||Igara||295,000 (1952), 800,000 (1987 UBS)||Benue State, Ankpa, Dekina, Idah and Bassa LGAs; Edo State, Oshimili LGA; Anambra State, Anambra LGA|
|Iṣẹkiri||Itsekiri, Ishekiri, Shekiri, Chekiri, Jekri, Izekíri, Tshekeri, Dsekiri||Iwere, Irhobo, Warri||Iselema–Otu (Ịjọ name for Warri/Itsekiri people), Selemo||33,000 (1952); over 100,000 (1963 Omamor); 500,000 (1987 UBS)||Delta State, Warri, Bomadi and Ethiope LGAs|
|Yoruba||Many dialects||Yorouba, Yariba (Cust)||Yorùbá||Yorùbá||Aku, Akusa, Eyagi, Nago||5,100,000 (1952), 15,000,000 (UBS 1984)||Most of Kwara, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and Ondo States; western LGAs in Kogi State; and into Benin Republic and Togo. Yoruba is spoken as a ritual language in Cuba and Brazil|