Top 25 Yoruba Words To Know: Translated Into English

You have plans to travel to Benin or Nigeria or any other Yoruba speaking country soon. What are the top 25 words you should know to be able to communicate lightly with indigenous citizens? First, let’s delve into a bit of history of the great African language. Yoruba is a language spoken in West Africa. The main language of people of the Oyo Empire and Benin Empire, it was exported to communities along the West African coast as far as Liberia, via trade and military expansion of those two empires (Oyo and Benin). The number of speakers of Yoruba is approaching 30 million according to Wikipedia sources. It is a  pluricentric language this means that it is a language with several interacting codified standard versions, often corresponding to different countries. Examples include English, French, Portuguese, German, Korean, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Swedish, Armenian and Chinese. A language that has only one formally standardized version is monocentric. Examples include Russian and Japanese.

Yoruba first appeared in writing during the 19th century. The first Yoruba publications were a number of teaching booklets produced by John Raban in 1830. The person who made the biggest contribution to Yoruba literacy was Bishop Ajayi (Samual) Crowther (1806-1891), who studied many of the languages of Nigeria, including Yoruba,  wrote and translated in some of them. Crowther was also the first Christian bishop of West African origin. Today, we shall identify and translate 25 words from Yoruba to English.

     Yoruba                English

  1. Ló                       Go
  2. Jéun̂                   Eat
  3. Bawoni?           Hello
  4. ilè-iwé              School
  5. òlukó                Teacher
  6. ṣibì                    Spoon
  7. òruň                  Sun
  8. òjá                     Market
  9. iwé                     Book
  10. àsó                     Cloth
  11. bàtá                   Shoe
  12. òmị                    Water
  13. jádè                    Out
  14. wólè                    In
  15. jókò                     Sit
  16. in̑a                       Fire
  17. òbẹ                      Knife
  18. ị̇sé                        Work
  19. irún                      Hair
  20. òjụ                       Eye
  21. ịmû                      Nose
  22. énụ                       Mouth
  23. étị                         Ear
  24. ịlù                         City
  25. òrilè èdé              Country


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