There is a growing need in the United States for speech-language pathologists to find information on Igbo speech language development. Here are some of the highlights of Igbo.
Igbo is the principal language of the Igbo people living in southeastern Nigeria. There are approximately 24 million speakers of Igbo. It is written in the Latin script, which was introduced by British colonialists, and there are over 20 Igbo dialects.
- There are approximately 220,000 Igbo speakers in the United States.
- Some of the largest populations of Igbo speakers in the U.S. reside in Virginia, Missouri, California, and New Jersey.
- Cities with large Igbo populations include New York, Philadelphia, Newark, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, Chicago, and Houston.
- Igbo is the fourth most spoken language in Africa.
- Igbo is spoken by approximately 20 million people in Nigeria.
The Sound Systems of Igbo and English
If you’ve read our book, Difference or Disorder: Understanding Speech and Language Development in Children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds, then you already know that we need to understand the similarities and differences between the sounds of languages before we can make a decision about whether a speech error is a language influence error or whether it might indicate a speech impairment. So, take a look at the Venn diagrams below for information about the consonants and the vowels in Igbo and English.
Assume we are testing a child from an Igbo background who is learning English as a second language.
If errors occur on the sounds that are unique to English, that is indicative of language influence.
If errors occur on the sounds unique to Igbo or the sounds shared between Igbo and English, that is indicative of a speech impairment.
It’s more complex than that, obviously, but that’s a good place to start. Then we need to think about the order of acquisition of the sounds in development, and of course the phonotactic constraints. For more information on all of that, check out the Difference or Disorder book.
Igbo Speech and Language Development
Igbo and English Consonant Phonemes
Igbo and English Vowel Phonemes
Phonological Patterns in Igbo
|Patterns of Native Language Influence:||Example/description of possible errors:|
|Allowable syllable patterns in Igbo are vowel (V), consonant-vowel (CV), and syllabic nasal (N)||Syllables might be reduced in multisyllabic words|
|Aside from the syllabic nasal, consonants cannot occur at the end of words||Final consonants might be omitted|
|There are no consonant clusters||Consonant clusters might be reduced or a neutral vowel might be added between consonants (e.g. pay for play or puhlay for play)|
|Substitution of [θ] with [s], [t], [f]||thin – sin, tin, fin|
|There are only four vowel sounds (a, i, u, o)||Other vowels might be substituted with [a, i, o, u]|
CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS FOR LANGUAGE: Igbo and English
|Feature||Igbo||English||Examples of Errors|
|Word Order||Usually subject-verb-object||Usually subject-verb object||None expected|
|Pronouns||Igbo does not distinguish between subject and object pronouns (e.g. he vs. him) but person (first, second, and third singular and plural subjects) is distinguished. Pronouns can also be marked for possession.||
Subject pronouns: he/she/they/we
Object pronouns: him/her/them/us
She mom is
here.*/ Her mom is here.
Them go to school.*/They go to school.
|Articles||No articles||Has definite (the) and indefinite (a, an) articles||I have cat.*/I have a cat.|
|Adjectives||Adjective can precede or follow the noun. There are few adjectives in Igbo. Instead verb suffixes are used to describe actions.||Adjective precedes noun||I want the cat brown.*/ I want the brown cat.|
|Plurality||Marked with a prefix /otutu/ so cup /iko/ becomes /otutuiko/||Add an /s/ to the noun||Plurals might not be marked at aIl or might be marked incorrectly. I want two sandwich.*/I want two sandwiches.|
|Verb conjugations||Verbs do differentiate between present and past. Instead, suffixes are added to the verb to describe the tense and quality of the verb. Examples include: tara/-tere: action in the past (he did); -la/-le: completed action (he has done); -ri: past completed action (he did); -go: already completed the action (have done); -lu: to indicate an intensification of the action of the verb||Verb conjugates to demonstrate tense changes (I eat, I ate)||
Igbo suffixes might be used to mark tense or intensity. (e.g. walklu to express intense walking)
|Prepositions||There is one preposition (na) in Igbo, which has to be understood by context||Many different prepositions||Incorrect use of prepositions|
Note: Sentences marked with an asterisk (*) are not grammatical.
Thank you for all the great feedback for all the languages you are requesting information on! We have published posts or are working on: Albanian, Amharic, Cambodian, Cantonese, Flemish / Dutch, Filipino/Tagalog, Hmong, Igbo, Karen, Kinyarwanda (ever heard of that one?), Portuguese, Romanian, Somali, Thai, Turkish, and Urdu/Hindi. For those not familiar with our current book, we’ve already compared and contrasted English with Spanish, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Korean, German, Czech, Japanese, Farsi, Mandarin, French, Russian, Arabic, and the African-American English dialect.
If there are other languages you would like to see, please let us know with your comments below!