We currently have 13 days left in our campaign to raise funds to publish two new dictionaries for endangered languages in Nigeria. We are at 61% of our fundraising goal! Thank you to all our supporters who have helped us make it this far. We are getting closer! Only $1737 left to raise for this campaign.
About the Campaign
Nigeria is home to hundreds of languages, many of which are endangered. This project supports two local minority languages, Olùkùmi and Owé (a dialect of Yorùbá). This is first-ever attempt to put the words, definitions and usages of these two languages into print.
These dictionaries are bilingual with English, and each contain 2000 words and phrases. They will become tools for language preservation, promotion and revitalization initiatives, and will serve local speakers, language enthusiasts as well as researchers.
This publication project is led by Nigerian linguist Dr. Bolanle Elizabeth Arokoyo, who holds a PhD in Linguistics, and has been documenting the grammar of Olùkùmi and Owé since 2011. Dr. Arokoyo is a Lecturer at the Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. She has collaborated with Dr. Greg Anderson and Dr. K. David Harrison at Living Tongues Institute on the Olùkùmi Talking Dictionary.
- $2000 USD – Publication and distribution of the Olùkùmi-English Dictionary
- $2000 USD – Publication and distribution of the Owé-English Dictionary
- $500 USD – Technical support, design and administration
Olùkùmi is in danger of disappearing in the coming generations if steps are not taken now to preserve and revitalize this language. Olùkùmi is a Yoruboid language spoken in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State Nigeria. It belongs to the Kwa family, of the Niger–Congo language family. Ugbodu, Ukwu-Nzu, Ubulubu, Ugboba, Idumogo, Ogodor and Anioma are the seven towns making up the Olùkùmi clan. According to the National Population census of 2006, Olùkùmi has a population of 13,750.
At present, the Olùkùmi language is going into extinction and the biggest challenge in our current generation is taking steps to protect the language and culture. The Olùkùmi that is spoken now is an amorphous language, a hybrid of Yorùbá, Igbo and some other languages like, Benin, Ishan, Urhobo and Igala. Olùkùmi parents speak Igbo with a mixture of Olùkùmi and English to their children, while the youth speak Igbo. The educated and the elite gravitate towards English. At the market, pidgin, Igbo or English is used as the language of transaction.
The Olùkùmi people are making efforts at revitalization through different programs organized to sustain the interest of the youth. One of these programmes is the Olùkùmi Reciting Competition, organized by the The Oloza of Ugbodu, HRM Obi Ayo Isiyemenze. People are also now being encouraged to give their children Olùkùmi names, and to also pray in the language. The publication of the first-ever Olùkùmi-English Dictionary will help preserve and promote the language for generations to come.
Owé has a larger speaker base than Olùkùmi but it also under threat, because there are very few young fluent speakers left. Owé is a dialect of Yorùbá spoken by the Owé people within the Kabba District in the present Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area of Kogi State. Kabba comprises of three clans named Katu, Odolu and Kabba. The Owé people can also be found in neighbouring villages such as Òtù-Egunbe, Gbélékò, Kákun, Ẹgbẹ́dá, Òkèdayò, Apánga, etc.
The Owé-speaking community is linguistically homogeneous. Genetically, Owé belongs to the Yoruboid language family group of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo. Kabba, the Headquarters of Okunland and also headquarters of old Kabba Province, is about 80 km west of Lokoja, the Kogi State Capital. According to the 2006 National population census, Kabba has an approximate population of one hundred and forty six thousand (146,000).
Owé is not going into extinction in this current generation, but it is still endangered. Presently, many aspects of the Owé dialect are being lost due to the strong influence of the local dominant languages, Yorùbá and English languages. The youth can hardly use the Owé dialect fluently and the domain of its usage is decreasing by the day. There are local efforts led the Owé people for the preservation of their language, including a strong demand for the publication of this dictionary.
A Message from Dr. Bolanle Arokoyo, dictionary author
The publication of these two dictionaries will be a tremendous contribution to language studies in Nigeria. I began these documentation projects in 2011, and my study of other aspects of these languages will continue after the publication of these dictionaries. Thank you for your support and for helping me accomplish the goal of supporting local endangered language communities in Nigeria.