Edo language

Edo /ˈɛd/[2] (with diacritics, Ẹ̀dó), colloquially called Bini (Benin), is a language spoken in Edo State, Nigeria. It is the native language of the Edo people and was the primary language of the Benin Empire and its predecessor, Igodomigodo.

Native toNigeria
RegionEdo State
EthnicityEdo people
Native speakers
2 million (2020)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-2bin
ISO 639-3bin
Edo language.svg
Location of Edo speakers in Nigeria.


Most of the Edo language-speakers live in Edo State, Nigeria. A smaller number of speakers are also found in Delta State and Ondo State and in other parts of Nigeria.

Edo is an Edoid language. This languages are also spoken in Rivers State and Bayelsa State, Nigeria.



There are seven vowels, /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/, all of which may be long or nasal, and three tones.


Edo has a rather average consonant inventory for an Edoid language. It maintains only a single phonemic nasal, /m/, but has 13 oral consonants, /r, l, ʋ, j, w/ and the 8 stops, which have nasal allophones such as [n, ɲ, ŋʷ], and nasalized allophones [ʋ̃, j̃, w̃] before nasal vowels.

Labial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labio-velar Glottal
Nasal m
Plosive p  b
[pm bm]
t  d
[tn dn]
k  ɡ
[kŋ ɡŋ]
k͡p  ɡ͡b
[k͡pŋ͡m ɡ͡bŋ͡m]
Fricative f  v s  z x  ɣ ɦ
Trill r
Close approximant ɹ̝̊  ɹ̝
Open approximant ʋ
[ɲ] [j̃]
[ŋʷ] [w̃]

The three rhotics have been described as voiced and voiceless trills as well as a lax English-type approximant. However, Ladefoged[3][page needed] found all three to be approximants, with the voiced–voiceless pair being raised (without being fricatives) and perhaps at a slightly different place of articulation compared to the third but not trills.


Syllable structure is simple, being maximally CVV, where VV is either a long vowel or /i, u/ plus a different oral or nasal vowel.


The Edo alphabet has separate letters for the nasalised allophones of /ʋ/ and /l/, mw and n:

A B D E F G Gb Gh H I K Kh Kp L M Mw N O P R Rh Rr S T U V Vb W Y Z
/a/ /b/ /d/ /e/ /ɛ/ /f/ /ɡ/ /ɡb/ /ɣ/ /ɦ/ /i/ /k/ /x/ /kp/ /l/ /m/ /ʋ/ /l/ /o/ /ɔ/ /p/ /r/ /ɹ̝̊/ /ɹ̝/ /s/ /t/ /u/ /v/ /ʋ/ /w/ /j/ /z/

Long vowels are written by doubling the letter. Nasal vowels may be written with a final -n or with an initial nasal consonant. Tone may be written with acute accent, grave accent, and unmarked, or with a final -h (-nh with a nasal vowel).

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Edo at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022)  
  2. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
  3. ^ Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  • Emovon, Joshua A. (1979). A phonological study of Edo (Bini), with special reference to the verbal phrase.  University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (United Kingdom)

External linksEdit