Language Jam July 2019, Celebrating the International Year of Indigenous Languages

Yoruba – #LangJam July ’19

Another chance to dabble in a new language for a weekend with #LanguageJam! July’s Jam is from a selection of Indigenous Languages, in honour of the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages. This Jam I drew Yoruba – here’s some fun facts.

Yoruba is a language spoken in Western Africa by around 80 million people, principally Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It’s also spoken in many other locations in Africa, and also the Caribbean and Americas. It sits in a family of six Yoruboid languages, but none of them have anywhere near the population of Yoruba speakers. Within Yoruba itself there are five dialectal groups consisting of up to 35 dialects. As you can imagine, the dialects really are a continuum, and exact boundaries of usage are impossible to draw.

Contemporary written Yoruba, or Standard Yoruba, originated over 150 years ago, when Samuel A. Crowther from Nigeria, the first African ordained Anglican bishop began to make a translation of the Bible. He used a variation on the Latin script, and the standard form is similar to the Ọyọ dialect, but also introduced some original features such as a simplified vowel harmony system.  Benin uses a slightly different orthography. Before Crowther’s work, the language had also been written in the Ajami script (a form of Arabic).

Yoruba is a tonal language, and there are nasal vowels, both of which can be tricky for English speakers. However, it is subject-verb-object, like English, and also isolating, like English, so there are similarities that also aid English-speaking learners to learn Yoruba.

(The above information references Wikipedia’s Yoruba Language page.)

Join us! Sign up at Then let me know below what language you got, and what you are aiming for over the weekend – Ready…. Set….. GO!