Ibibio Language
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Ibibio Language
(Ibibio proper)
Native toSouthern Nigeria
RegionAkwa Ibom State
Native speakers
7.5 to 9 million (1998)[1]
Language codes

Ibibio (proper) is the native language of the Ibibio people of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, belonging to the Ibibio-Efik dialect cluster of the Cross River languages. The name Ibibio is sometimes used for the entire dialect cluster. In pre-colonial times, it was written with Nsibidi ideograms, similar to Igbo, Efik, Anaang, and Ejagham. Ibibio has also had influences on Afro-American diasporic languages such as AAVE words like buckra, which comes from the Ibibio word mbakara, and in the Afro-Cuban tradition of abakua.



  • /m, b/ are bilabial, whereas /f/ is labiodental.[3]
    • /b/ has two allophones, which occur in complementary distribution: voiceless and voiced .[4]
  • /n, d, s/ are alveolar [n, d, s], whereas /t/ is dental .[3]
  • Stem-initial /?/ is realized as [w].[3]

Intervocalic plosives are lenited:[3]

  • /b/ ->
  • /t, d/ ->
  • /k/ -> or


Ranges for Ibibio monophthongs, from Urua (2004:106)
Ibibio vowel phonemes[3]
Front Back
unrounded unrounded rounded
Close i u
Mid e ? o
Open a ?
  • /i, u/ are phonetically near-close [?, ?].[3]
  • /e, ?, o/ are phonetically true-mid; /?/ is also strongly centralized: [e?, , o?].[3]
  • /a, ?/ are phonetically near-open; /a/ is central rather than front: [?, ].[3]

Between consonants, /i, u, o/ have allophones that are transcribed [?, ?, ?], respectively.[3] At least in case of [?, ?], the realization is probably somewhat different (e.g. close-mid [e, ?]), because the default IPA values of the symbols [?, ?] are very similar to the normal realizations of the Ibibio vowels /i, ?/. Similarly, [?] may actually be near-close , rather than close .

In some dialects (e.g. Ibiono), /?, ?, ?/ occur as phonemes distinct from /i, u, o/.[3]


Ibibio has two tones: high and low. A word can be used to mean two or more different things based on the tone ascribed to it.[5]


  1. ^ Ibibio at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ibibio". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Urua (2004), p. 106.
  4. ^ Urua (2004), pp. 105-106.
  5. ^ Urua (2004), p. 107.


Further reading

  • Bachmann, Arne (2006): "Ein quantitatives Tonmodell für Ibibio. Entwicklung eines Prädiktionsmoduls für das BOSS-Sprachsynthesesystem." Magisterarbeit, University of Bonn.
  • Kaufman, Elaine Marlowe (1972) Ibibio dictionary. Leiden: African Studies Centre / Cross River State University / Ibibio Language Board. ISBN 90-70110-46-6

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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