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Edo language

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Title: Edo language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Edoid languages, Benin Empire, Nigeria, EDO, Osanobua
Collection: Edo People, Edoid Languages
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Edo language

Native to Nigeria
Region Edo State
Native speakers
1 million (1999)[1]
Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-2 bin
ISO 639-3 bin
Glottolog bini1246[2]

Edo [3] (with diacritics, Ẹ̀dó; also called Bini (Benin)) is a Volta–Niger language spoken primarily in Edo State, Nigeria. It was and remains the primary language of the Edo people of Igodomigodo. The Igodomigodo kingdom was renamed Edo by Oba Eweka, after which the Edos refer to themselves as Oviedo 'child of Edo'. The Edo capital was Ubinu, known as Benin City to the Portuguese who first heard about it from the coastal Itsekiri, who pronounced it this way; from this the kingdom came to be known as the Benin Empire in the West.


  • Phonology 1
  • Edo WorldHeritage 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Edo has a rather average consonant inventory for an Edoid language. It maintains only a single phonemic nasal, /m/, but has 13 oral consonants, /ɺ, l, ʋ, j, w/ and the 8 stops, which have nasal allophones such as [n, ɲ, ŋʷ] before nasal vowels. There are seven vowels, /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/, all of which may be long or nasal, and three tones. Syllable structure is simple, being maximally CVV, where VV is either a long vowel or /i, u/ plus a different oral or nasal vowel.

Labial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labio-velar Glottal
Nasal m
Plosive p  b
[pm bm]
t  d
[tn dn]
k  ɡ
[kŋ ɡŋ]
k͡p  ɡ͡b
[k͡pŋ͡m ɡ͡bŋ͡m]
Fricative f  v s  z x  ɣ h
Close approximant ɹ̝̊  ɹ̝
Open approximant ʋ
l  ɹ
[n  ɾ̃]

The three rhotics have been described as voiced and voiceless trills plus a lax English-type approximant. However, Ladefoged[4] found all three to be approximants, with the voiced–voiceless pair being raised (without being fricatives) and perhaps at a slightly different place of articulation compared to the third, but not trills.

The Edo alphabet has separate letters for the nasalized allophones of /ʋ/ and /l/, mw and n:

A B D E F G Gb Gh H I K Kh Kp L M Mw N O P R Rh Rr S T U V Vb W Y Z
/a/ /b/ /d/ /e/ /ɛ/ /f/ /ɡ/ /ɡb/ /ɣ/ /h/ /i/ /k/ /x/ /kp/ /l/ /m/ /ʋ/ /l/ /o/ /ɔ/ /p/ /ɹ/ /ɹ̝̊/ /ɹ̝/ /s/ /t/ /u/ /v/ /ʋ/ /w/ /j/ /z/

Long vowels are written by doubling the letter. Nasal vowels may be written with a final -n or with an initial nasal consonant. Tone may be written with acute accent, grave accent, and unmarked, or with a final -h (-nh with a nasal vowel).

Edo WorldHeritage

WorldHeritage currently does not have an Edo language version. An Edo WorldHeritage site is currently in process of preconception ("incubation") (see for details). Edo speakers can assist in the creation of the Edo WorldHeritage (see how on

See also


  1. ^ Edo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Bini".  
  3. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  4. ^  

External links

  • Edo Language Dictionary Online
  • Hans Melzian's Edo-English Dictionary
  • Rebecca Agheyisi's Edo-English Dictionary
  • PanAfrican L10n page on Edo (Bini)
  • Edo/Africa names dictionary{source Edoworld}
  • Bini (Edo) wordlists and recordings at the UCLA Phonetics Archive
  • Bini (Edo) Market Days Calender on Naija Local
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