The Yoruba language

Ṣe daadaa ni o wa? – How are you?
Mo wa daadaa, o ̣se – I’m good!
Ẹ ku alẹ – Good evening!
Ẹ ku ọsan – Good afternoon!
O da aarọ – good night!
Ki ni orukọ rẹ? – What’s your name?
Orukọ mi ni [name] – My name is…
Ṣe o n sọ Yorùbá? – Do you speak Yoruba?

Tonal system
Yoruba has three main tone levels, which are high, medium, and low. These are generally only applied to vowels. A word pronounced with a different tone can result in a different meaning, just like many Chinese languages or Vietnamese.

ọkọ – ‘husband’ (medium tone)
ọkọ́ – ‘hoe’ (high tone on second vowel)
ọ̀kọ̀ – ‘spear’ (low tone)
ọkọ̀ – ‘vehicle’ (low tone on second vowel)

Ìgbà ‘time’ (low tone on both vowels)
Igba ‘two hundred’ (mid tone)
Ìgbá ‘garden egg’ (low tone on first – high tone on second vowel)
Igbà ‘climbing rope’ (mid tone on first – low tone on second vowel)
ìwọ̀ – ‘hook’ (low tone on both vowels)
iwọ – ‘poison’ (mid tone on both vowels)

*High tones are not possible at the beginning of words in Yoruba
órí (correct > orí) – (head)
ígò (correct > ìgò) (bottle)
éwúro (correct > ewúro) – (bitter leaves)

Yoruba is typically an S-V-O (subject-object-verb) language

mo fe ra ìwe méjì
‘I want to buy two books’
Olú yóò lọ sí Ìbàdàn
Olu will go to Ibadan
‘Olu will go to Ibadan’

Nouns in Yoruba are the same for both singular and plural. can be newly formed in a variety of ways, like duplication, affixes, and compounding

Yoruba often involves elision when in conversation, or in context. This is similar to how “want to” or “going to” become “wanna” and “gonna’ in conversation and formal registers. some vowels can become glued to the next word, generally if the first word ends in a vowel, and the next one begins with one.

mo fẹ́ ra ọ̀bẹ –> mo fe rọ̀bẹ
I want buy knife
‘I want to buy a knife’

In this sentence, the verb ‘ra’ loses its final vowel when eliding with “ọ̀bẹ”, but you can see that the next word’s vowel is still intact

mo ra ‘ ìwe –> mo rawe
I bought book
‘I bought a book’

Splitting verbs are not so common in Yoruba, but it still happens. It appears that the object of such sentences serves as the agent in them.

fihàn – to introduce
Olu fi Ade hàn Ola
Olu appear Ade appear Ola
‘Olu introduced Ade to Ola.’

Yoruba uses a wide range of aspect and mood words in combination with verbs in sentences, many of these are similar to English.

a ti máa ‘usually will …’
n – [verb]ing..
lè – can
ìbá – would have
kĭi – usually don’t (and many, many more)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest