New Igboid Language Discovered in the Niger Delta

The Niger River Delta (as seen from space); Flickr user Presley*

Akinbiyi Akinlabi spent 21 days in the Nigerian Niger delta (July 19 -Aug. 8), conducting an additional field trip on his ongoing NSF-sponsored project titled “Documenting Defaka and Nkoroo”. Defaka and Nkoroo are two endangered languages spoken in Niger Delta. This trip was undertaken to collect translations and annotations of conversations and cultural material documented during earlier trips. These translations are crucial for archiving. The archival materials are currently being prepared by William Bennett.

However, during the last days of the trip, Professors Akinlabi and Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele (Dean of Arts, University of Port Harcourt) the Nigerian co-ordinator of the project, stumbled on an undocumented language, Abiriba.

An initial analysis of Abiriba (Akinlabi and Ndimele (forthcoming)) shows that it is an artificial language spoken by a persecuted section of the Ogbakiri community. Ogbakiri itself is a dialect of Ikwere, an Igboid language (Clements and Osu 2005).