~ Ejike Eze ~
Igbo is one of the three major languages of Nigeria, the others being Yoruba and Hausa. Native speakers of Igbo, estimated to be between 25 and 30 million people, reside predominantly in five Eastern states of Nigeria, namely Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. These states are collectively referred to as Alaigbo (Igboland). Native speakers of Igbo are also minorities in two other Eastern States, namely Delta and Rivers. The language is also spoken as a second language in the Niger Delta and Cross River Basin. Igbo belongs to the Niger-Congo language family. Greenberg (1963) classified it in the Kwa group along with six other big clusters: Akan, Gbe, Yoruba-Igala, Nupe-Ebira, Edo and Idoma. Williamson has since redrawn this picture, reducing the Kwa sub-group to Akan and Gbe. The rest she reclassified as an enlarged Benue-Congo group. DIALECTS
Igbo has dozens of geographical dialects. Igbo dialectology is still in infancy. Eze and Manfredi (forthcoming), however, contend that judging by sound change and morphosyntax, the oldest division is between a contiguous northern with added auxiliaries and fewer inflecting suffixes, and southern areas with glotalized "t" and "d". The northern areas include the hilly terrain of Udi, Nike and Abakiliki, all in the part referred to as Waawaland (See map of Igboland).
The issue of orthography has been the bane of the linguistic advancement of Igbo as a world language. After many revisions, the Eastern Nigerian government accepted the report of the Onwu Committee, which proposed eight vowel symbols, one consonant diacritic and nine consonant digraphs for Igbo. Eighteen monographic consonants were carried over from the previous orthographies, bringing the letters of the Igbo alphabet to number thirty-six (36). The following are the letters of the Igbo orthography (We use the asterisk "*"to indicate that a preceding vowel, or consonant in the case of "n*" is dotted): A, B, CH,...
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