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Ika Igbo

  • Joy Oluchi Uguru (a1)
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Ika is a dialect of the Igbo language spoken in Ika South and Ika North East Local Government Areas of Delta State and the Igbanke area of Edo State in Nigeria. It belongs to the Niger Igbo cluster of dialects (Ikekeonwu 1986) spoken in areas bordering the west of the River Niger; Nwaozuzu (2008) refers to these dialects as West Niger Group of Dialects. A word list of Ika, written by Williamson (1968), was one of the earliest works on Ika and she points out in that work that Ika (and Ukwuani), though regarded as dialects of Igbo, are treated as separate on purely linguistic grounds. Ika phonology differs from that of Standard Igbo and other Igbo dialects and this is why the study of Ika has been of major interest to Igbo linguists in recent years. There have been moves to grant Ika a language status, as seen in the assignment of a unique reference code to Ika: the ISO language code for Ika is ISO 639–3 ikk while that for Igbo is ISO 639–3 ibo. Standard Igbo has the same consonants as Ika though the latter has two consonants, /ʃ/and/ʒ/, which do not exist in the Standard dialect. However, the vocalic system of Ika is largely different from that of Standard and some Igbo dialects which have eight vowels. Ika has a nine-vowel system which includes the schwa, which is a variant of some vowels. Furthermore, it has nine nasal vowels; Standard Igbo and other dialects of Igbo have no nasal vowels. Ika manifests intonation in addition to lexical tone. Standard Igbo and other Igbo dialects do not manifest intonation in the same way as Ika does; that is, they do not express attitudes and emotions through intonation. They manifest only lexical tone. In an earlier study of Northern Igbo dialects, Ikekeonwu (1986) could only discover the existence of upstep in Abakaliki dialect. Okorji (1991) and Egbeji (1999) have studied the intonation of Umuchu, an inland West dialect of Igbo. Their findings, particularly Egbeji’s, show that a declarative sentence can be changed to an interrogative one (repetitive question) by use of intonation. This is a syntactic function which can also be likened to what happens in Standard and most other Igbo dialects where the tone of the pronominal subject changes from high to low in the indication of interrogation. At present, therefore, there appears to be no evidence that attitudes and emotions can be expressed through intonation in Umuchu and other Igbo dialects as is observed in Ika.

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References
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Egbeji, Ijeoma J. 1999. Aspects of intonation in Umuchu dialect. Ms., Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Nigeria Nsukka.
Ika Bible Translation Committee. 2010. Ẹkwụkwọ Nsọ (Elu Ọhụn) [Holy Bible (New Testament)]. Bojiboji Agbọ: Ika Bible Translation Committee and Bible League International.
Ikekeonwu, Clara I. 1986. A lexico-phonotactic study of Northern Igbo dialects. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Ikekeonwu, Clara I. 1999. Igbo. In IPA [International Phonetic Association] (ed.), Handbook of the International Phonetic Association, 108110. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nwaozuzu, Gabriella I. 2008. Dialects of the Igbo language. Nsukka: University of Nigeria Press.
Okorji, Roseline I. 1991. The sound pattern of inland West Igbo dialects: A comparative study. MA Project Report, Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Uguru, Joy Oluchi. 2000. The interaction of tone and intonation in Ika. MA Project Report, Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Uguru, Joy Oluchi. 2004. Intonation in Ika narrative discourse. Journal of Nigerian Languages and Culture 6 (2), 7280.
Uguru, Joy Oluchi. 2005. Nasals in Ika. Nsukka Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 2 (2), 1924.
Uguru, Joy Oluchi. 2006. Intonation and meaning in Ika. Journal of Igbo Studies 1, 108112.
Uguru, Joy Oluchi. 2007. Durational effects of intonation variation in Ika. The Phonetician 93/94 (I/II), 2328.
Williamson, Kay. 1968. An introduction to Ika and Ukwuani (Occasional Publication 14). Ibadan: Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.
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Journal of the International Phonetic Association
  • ISSN: 0025-1003
  • EISSN: 1475-3502
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-phonetic-association
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Ika Iqbo sound files
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