Over View of Igala Studies
Posted by abdul at February 5th, 2013
The Igala language according to linguists belongs to Kwa sub-family of the Niger-Congo group of languages developed in Africa. It is spoken throughout the entire Igala land located in Kogi state, middle belt region of Nigeria. There are also some communities that speak Igala in the neighboring state like Enugu, Anambra and Benue. It is today regarded as the first language in Kogi state and one of the principal languages in Nigeria. Igala language is blended with traces of minor dialectical differences found mainly on the fringes and coastal areas of the kingdom, This is as a result of close contact with neighboring communities, the language is generally understood throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom.
from historical perspective, The language first taste the bliss of development for the first time in history in 1848 during when Rev. John Clerk presented a wordlist of the language in his Specimens of Dialects (published at Berwick – upon-Tweed, England). Notable among the effort are; 1854, the German Missionary, S. W. Kolle also listed one hundred Igala words in his massive work, The polyglota Africana (published by the CMS London). In 1855 Samuel Ajayi Crowther (Late Bishop of the Niger) published a comparative wordlist of Igala and Yoruba with their English Meanings. in 1867 the first IGALA Primer (sic) was written by the Rev. A. G Coomber and published by the CMS, London. after these historical period, the Language had witnessed various attempt of development to stand the taste of individual era of the efforts.
Note; according to Dr Tom Miachi in his article Titled IGALA LANGUAGE AS A VERITABLE VEHICLE OF COMMUNICATION IN NIGERIA; Considering efforts at developing Igala Language, “There was a long break until 1935 when W.T.A Philpot published a short article on Igala in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, university of London. In the mid 1960s, interest in Igala language study was rekindled, mainly by Americans. The late Edward Fresco, a Peace Corps Volunteer, published two articles in 1967 and 1968, following a publication in 1965 by Professor R.G Armstrong. in the early 1970s, Raymond Silverstein studied Igala in the area of historical phonology. his doctoral thesis on this subject was presented to the University of California at Los Angeles in 1973 Dr. Femi Akinkugbe (1976,1978,1984) has also made substantial contributions to the study of Igala language. Her doctoral thesis (University of Ibadan, 1978) was on comparative study of Yoruba, Itsekiri and Igala, languages which she says belongs to the Yoruboid group in 1984″.
The recent developmental efforts of our generation are those of the eminent indigenous scholars like Dr. Tom A Miachi, Mr. yusuf etu, P.E. Okwoli, M.S.A. Odoma, J. Ocheni, A. I. Adejoh, Peter Ojotule Itodo, Chief Musa Adegbe, John Jibo Idakwoji and those we could not see their works to mention their names here.
Another of the latest efforts at developing the Igala Language in the recent time is attempt made by Abdul M. Yahaya (Civil Engineer) under the umbrella of Igalapedia project to digitalise the Igala Language. This was intended to place the Igala Language at the same level of uniqueness other Nigerian tribes assumed when we talk about the languages that meet the demand of today world of computer age. A computer program has been written and is converting numbers to Igala words counting from 1 to 99999999999999999999 and also converting numbers to monetaryvalues in Igala Language from 1 to 99999999 in a traditional Igala way of calling monetary values. Windows version and web version of the Igalapedia Dictionary for deployment to www.igalapedia.com is also in the studio receiving review and editing at the time of this write up. All these will give birth to mobile Igalapedia dictionary.
Igala Letters and the Igala Alphabet
The Igala language did not have a written form until the 19th century. Today, it is written with a variation of the Latin alphabet (the same alphabet used by English). The Igala alphabet does not include the letters q, v, x, or z, but does include several special Igala letters: and the digraph gb, kp, kw, nw, etc (which is considered a single letter despite being made up of two characters). The Igala alphabet therefore has a total of — letters. In addition, written Igala uses diacritic marks over various letters to indicate tone.
Igala is a tonal language, meaning that the same basic word can have different meanings depending on the tone in which it is said. These tones are a very noticeable aspect of both written Igala and spoken Igala pronunciation. The Igala language has three distinct tones:
The high tone (marked by an acute accent in written Igala),
The mid tone (not usually marked), and the
Low tone (marked by a grave accent).
Most syllables in Igala words end with a vowel or a nasal sound, and there are no consonant clusters. It is common in some dialects of Igala to combine the pronunciation of two syllables if one ends in a vowel and the next begins with vowel.
Another thing that English speakers learning Igala should be aware of about Igala pronunciation is that not all of the letters in the Igala alphabet are pronounced the same as their English equivalents. Igala vowel sounds, in particular, may take practice to master when learning to speak Igala.
Most Igala words come from native roots. However, like all languages, Igala has borrowed vocabulary from other sources with which it has come in contact. Many of the loanwords in Igala have come from Hausa, an unrelated language spoken to the north of the traditional Igala area. Other borrowings have originated from Arabic, or sometimes from Arabic words that were first absorbed by Hausa and then passed on to Igala. More recently, certain English words have been taken into the Igala language, often with changes to reflect typical Igala pronunciation.
Igala grammar differs significantly from English grammar and the grammar of many languages with which English speakers may be more familiar. For example, Igala nouns do not have plural forms, as in English, nor do they have gender or case like the nouns in many European languages. Most Igala nouns have more than one syllable, and typically begin with a vowel. Igala adjectives usually come after the nouns they modify. In contrast to nouns, most Igala verbs have only one syllable. The typical sentence order in Igala is subject-verb-object, and it is very common to have several verbs in one sentence.
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