Igbo language

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Igbo (Igbo: Asụsụ Igbo) is a Niger-Congo language with around 20 million speakers that are mostly in Nigeria and are primarily of Igbo descent. Igbo is an official language of Nigeria and is also spoken natively in Cameroon. It is written in the Latin alphabet, which was introduced by British colonialists. Secret societies such as the Ekpe use the Nsibidi ideograms which were invented by the Ejagham and were used to represent other languages like Efik.[2]

There are over 20 Igbo dialects. There is apparently a degree of dialect leveling occurring. A standard literary language was developed in 1972 based on the Owerri and Umuahia dialects, though it omits the nasalization and aspiration of those varieties. There are related Igboid languages as well that are sometimes considered dialects of Igbo, the most divergent being Ekpeye. Some of these, such as Ika, have separate standard forms.

Contents

History

The Igbo people first used Nsibidi ideograms invented by the neighboring Ekoi people for writing.[3] These ideograms existed among the Igbo and other related groups before the 16th century, but died out after it became popular amongst secret societies such as the Ekpe, who then made Nsibidi a secret form of communication.[4]

The first books to publish any Igbo words was Geschichte der Mission der Evangelischen Bruder auf den Carabischen (German: History of the Evangelistic Mission of the Brothers in the Caribbean), published in 1777.[5] Shortly after wards in 1789, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano was published in London, England, written by Olaudah Equiano, a former slave, featuring 79 Igbo words.[5] The narrative also illustrated various aspects of Igbo life based in detail, based on Olaudah Equiano's experiences in his hometown of Essaka.[6] Things Fall Apart- Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart which concerns influences of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on a traditional Igbo community during an unspecified time in the late 19th or early 20th century, was published in 1959 written by Chinua Achebe. The bulk of the novel takes place in Umuofia, one of nine villages on the lower Niger. It possibly is the most popular and renowned novel that deals with the Igbo and their traditional life.[7]

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