Urhobo is a South-Western Edoid language[2] spoken by the Urhobo people of southern Nigeria.[3][4] It is from the Delta and Bayelsa States.[5]

Native toNigeria
RegionDelta State, Edo State
EthnicityUrhobo people
Native speakers
1.1 million (2020)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3urh
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Phonology edit

Urhobo has a rather reduced system of sound inventory compared to proto-Edoid. The inventory of Urhobo consists of seven vowels; which form two harmonic sets,[6] /i e ɛ a o ɔ u/ and ɛ̃ ã ɔ̃ õ ũ/.[7]

It has a conservative consonant inventory for an Edoid language. It maintains three nasals, and only five oral consonants, /ɾ, l, β̞, j, w/, have nasal allophones before nasal vowels.[6]

  Labial Labiodental Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Labio-velar
Nasal m   (n)   ɲ   ŋ͡m
Plosive p  b   t  d d͡ʒ kʲ  ɡʲ k  ɡ k͡p  ɡ͡b
Fricative ɸ   f  v s ʃ (ç  ʝ) x  ɣ  
Trill     r̥  r        
Flap     (ɾ̥  ɾ)        
Lateral     l ~ n        
Approximant β̞ [β̞̃ ]   (ɹ̥  ɹ) [ɹ̃]   j [j̃] (ɰ  ɰ̥) w [w̃]
  • /l/ is interchangeable with [n] only before nasal vowels.
  • /d͡ʒ/ can be heard as [ɟ͡ʝ ~ ʝ] before non-front vowels.
  • Nasal consonants /m, [n], ɲ, ŋ͡m/ can have allophones of nasalized approximants as [β̞̃], [ɹ̃ ~ ɾ̃], [j̃], [w̃].
  • Approximants /β̞, j, w/ are heard as nasalized approximants [β̞̃, j̃, w̃] before and after nasal vowels.
  • Velar fricatives /x, ɣ/ can vary from being heard as [x, ɣ] to lowered fricatives [x̞, ɣ̞] and approximants [ɰ̥, ɰ]. /x/ can also be heard as a palatal fricative [ç] before /i/.
  • Rhotics /r̥, r/ may have different realizations as alveolar or retroflex, and can be articulated as approximants [ɹ̥, ɹ, ɻ̊, ɻ], or taps [ɾ̥, ɾ, ɽ̊, ɽ]. A retroflex lateral flap [ɭ̆] can also be heard in syllable-final position.

According to Anthony Ukere, Urhobo has two tones, a high tone and a low tone. These can also combine to form rising and falling tones.[8]

Syntax edit

Urhobo has the SVO constituent order type as illustrated with the example below:










Òtítí ò chó ọhọ ná

Otiti 3SG steal.PST hen DET

‘Otiti stole the hen.’

References edit

  1. ^ Urhobo at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022)  
  2. ^ Elugbe, B. O. 1989. Edoid: Phonology and Lexicon. Port Harcourt: University of Port Harcourt Press.
  3. ^ "Nigeria | History, Population, Flag, Map, Languages, Capital, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2022-03-09.
  4. ^ "Supplemental Information 3: An excerpt from Data Downloads page, where users can download original datasets". doi:10.7717/peerj.9467/supp-3. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "Bayelsa State Government – The Glory of all Lands". Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  6. ^ a b Rolle, N. 2013. “Phonetics and phonology of Urhobo.”UC Berkeley Phonology Lab Annual Report, 2013: 281-326.
  7. ^ Archangeli & Pulleyblank, 1994. Grounded phonology, p 181ff
  8. ^ Ukere, Anthony Obakpọnọvwẹ. 1986. Urhobo-English dictionary. Benin City: Ilupeju Press.

General references edit