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This is a work on dialectal variation focusing on a comparative study between Ikere and Ijebu of the Yoruba language, as spoken by the people of Ekiti and Ogun state respectively, with a view to determining the linguistic status of both varieties. It is limited to only these varieties as they are the main focus of the study. The Ibadan word list of 400 basic items was the primary instrument for data collection, and informants were used. This work




This work sets out to do a comparative study to determine the status of the Ikere and Ijebu varieties of Yoruba in order to find areas of convergences and divergences which will help determine the level of mutual intelligibility between them. The motivation for this study is that there have been some controversies as to the relatedness between these two language varieties. Thiswork sets out to examine the Ekiti and Ijebu varieties of Yoruba in the light of these controversies and establishes their linguistic status as well.

The study is divided into four chapters. Chapter one is the general introduction to the study. It entails the preliminaries, the Ikere and Ijebu varieties of Yoruba: the languages and peoples, the aim, scope of study, significance and methodology of study. In chapter two a review of relevant literature is carried out. It entails a linguistic viewpoint, a theoretical review, definition of terms and definition of terms. For chapter three, the data collected is analyzed and the results are also presented to show the convergence and divergence between the Ikere and Ijebu varieties of Yoruba. Chapter four entails the concluding remarks where the summary of work done, findings and conclusion are presented. This is followed by the references and appendix sections.

Languages are used in different forms, in different situations and for different purposes. This use of language has given birth to various forms. For example if a dialect is defined as a geographical sub-division of language, we do not come very far without the definition of language and sub-division is not a very clear concept either. Therefore discussions of the terms will be necessary. These discussions will be treated in the second chapter of this study.

According to Catford (1965:84), a language variety is:

“a subset of formal and or substantial features which correlateregularly with a particular type of socio-situational feature”.

A language can thus be defined as abody of words and system used for communication among people of a particular nation or area. This definition only scratches the surface of language as a whole, but it is essential in the understanding of the afore-mentioned terms.

A dialect then,is a variety of language that is distinguished from other varieties of the same language by features of phonology,grammar and vocabulary, and by its use by a group of speakerswho are set off from others geographically or socially.

This work sets out to do a comparative study to determine the status of the Ikere and Ijebu varieties of the Yoruba language in order to find the areas of convergences and divergences which will help determine the level of mutual intelligibility.

However, there has been some controversies as to the relatedness or otherwise between these two varieties. This work also sets out to examine these varieties and establish the linguistics status of these varieties as well.


The Yoruba people have different accounts of their origin but they all relate to the same ancestor, “Oduduwa”. One account is that he migrated from what is called Mecca because of his belief in deities which caused him to be expelled from his abode, and to settle in Ile-Ife and start a dynasty which was further expanded by his seven sons. Another school of taught is of the view that Oduduwa was sent by God to create the human race, but his first descent was at Ile-Ife where he proceeded with his mission.

According to the CIA World Fact Book (2013), the Yoruba diaspora consists of two groupings.One of them includes relatively recent immigrants, the majority which moved outside the shores of Africa and the other includesthose within Africa. It also states that the Yoruba language is one of the 12 Edekiri languages of the Yoruboid group that also includes Igala, Edo, Ebira amongst others. The Yoruba language has numerous varieties spoken in Nigeria and other parts of the world where it is spoken. Aside from Nigeria it is spoken in Benin, Togo, Ghana, Brazil and by immigrant in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world.

Yoruba is a tonal language comprising of three (3) basic tones : high, mid and low tones but these tones may interact producing rising or falling tones.

1.1.1 Ikere Variety And People.

According to the World Gazette (2013) Ikere-Ekiti, also known as Ikere is a city in Ekiti state of Nigeria. Ikere is a variety of the Yoruba language spoken by the Ekitipeople that differ from other varieties of the language.

The Ikere peopleare aboriginal, culturally homogeneous and highly intellectual Yoruboid speaking people that form a sub-group of a larger ethnic group in West Africa particularly in Nigeria.(Nigerian Muse : 2006)

The difference noticeable in the Ikere language are informed by their spatial locations especially the boarder community to the state.

The Ekiti people settle in nucleus urban patterns, well linked within networks of roads. The state “Ekiti” from whichIkere is a tribe, means “mound” and is derived from the rugged mountainous feature of the state. The Ikere people are well known for their diverse quality of traditional arts, poetry and witty sayings.

An Ekiti man can be identified in Bùbá (round neck shirt) and sòkòtò (trousers). While the woman’s dress is Bùbá (blouse) and ìró (wrapper). Generally, any Ikere person can be identified by their facial marks which is a quarter-of-an-inch horizontal line, called “Pele Ekiti”.

1.1.2 Ijebu Variety and People

The Ijebu speak another variety of Yoruba and are found in large concentrations in Epe, Ikorodu and IbejuLekki, apart from those who have longsettled in Lagos Island especially in the area of Idumagbo and EbuteEro.The Ijebu people are mainly from Ogun state in Nigeria. They are bounded in the north by Ibadan, in the east by Ondo, Okitipupa and the west by Egbaland. (Encyclopedia Britannica 2014)

The people are business minded and are shrewd in business. Hence, any Yoruba person that exhibits such behaviour is said to hail from Ijebu. They are also very ritualistic; a typical EbifestivalinEpe for instance features the worship of many deities, cult ceremonies, blood sacrifices and masquerades display.

According to the Journal of The Historical Society of Nigeria (2004), the Ijebu are connected to the larger Yoruba race and are very united despite their presence in more than one state and in many towns. Like other Yoruba tribes, these people can be easily identified with their tribal marks, which are a short line on both cheeks called “Pele Ijebu”.


This work is a comparative study of Ikereand Ijebu varieties of Yoruba language. It seeks to compare Ikere and Ijebu varieties of Yoruba to determine their relatedness and determine whether they are dialects or simply varieties of Yoruba language.

This work would also serve as a guide to interested researchers who would want to develop and consolidate the frontiers of this subject matter.


This study covers the language variety of the Yoruba language spoken by the Ijebu and Ikere people.

However, it is limited to these two varieties as they are the main focus of the study.


There is no contrastive study carried out on Ikere and Ijebu varieties. Although there are individual studies on Ijebu and Ikere respectively, but no work focuses on the varieties as a particular study.


The Ibadan word list of 400 basic items was the primary instrument for data collection. The choice of the Ibadan 400 word list is informed by the factthat it constitutes a reliable and codified source of frequently used words inYoruba language.

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