Yoruboid languages

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Togo, Benin Western, Southern and Central Nigeria
Linguistic classification Niger–Congo
Glottolog yoru1244[1]

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)*
Western Ede
Eastern Ede
N. Nago & Kura
Southwestern Ede
Ede Shabe
Southeastern Ede
Isha & Manigri
Ede Idaasha
Nuclear Yoruba
Ede Ije, South Nago
Yoruba - Lucumi
Central Yoruba

  • 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.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Yoruboid". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.