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■rOSETHF.R wlTft 

0. E. VIDAL, D.D. 


TsB following Grammar is formed on the basU of that 
prefixed to the Yoruba Vocabulary, publiahed in 1849. It has 
now been thoroughly revised, and for the moet part re-written, 
by Mr. Crowtueb; and is, indeed, substandftlly a new work. 
The phonc^raphic syBtem employed will be found on the 
following page. 

W. K. 


The five vowels, a, e, i, o, u, repreeent the sounds usually termed 
Italian, as heard in the words — 



Bath, bat. 
Bait, bet. 

Voter, hand. 

Beat, Ht. 



Ziebeti, nnn 



There are also two modified vowels and two diphthongs— 

e, a sound between the sounds aibat and bait, hardly distinguish- 
able by an English ear from the latter sound ; approximating 
closely to the English interrogative aye? or the German a, 
o, a sound between a and o, as heard in law, water, bought^ 
not ; represented in Swedish hy S, 
ai, nearly equivalent to the English », in mile, 
oi, as in voi^e. 

Among the consonants it is only necessary to notice that — 
g is always hard, aa in gate, 
j is always soft, as in join, 
k has always its distinct sound, as an aspirate. 
p= kp — the hard sound, to which gb is the soft correlative. 

or the accents, none are employed, as in English, merely to mark 
the stress to be laid on a particular syllable. 

The circumfles usually indicates a contraction, which is also in all 
cases a long syllable, e.g. dabobo, from da-abo-bo. 

The acute (') and grave (*) accents are simply marks of intonation — 
i. e. of the rise or fall of the voice— often, as in the Chinese language, 
affecting the signification'. 

Words not divided by a hyphen are uncompounded roots, or words, 
whose etymology is uncertain. 

When a word is compounded without any change of the simple, it 
is merely divided by a hyphen into its component parts. 

When there is such a change, an analysis b added of the whole 
word; e.g. Ifohiballb (fi ori-ba-ille) ; or of the syllable which 
needs elucidation, e.g, iSBssr-BHNi (se-ennu ). ^ 



Thb Kingdom of Yoruba formerly extended from 
Katanga to Ijebbu, a district on the bank of the Lagos, 
a few miles distant from the sea. One language is still 
spoken by the inhabitants of this large country, though 
it is distinguished by several dialects. The Kakanda 
Language, on the bank of the Niger, may saiely be 
called a daughter of the Yoruba. The name Katanga is 
generally put down in charts; though the Yo^ubans 
themselves call it Qy'o. European Travellers obtained 
the name Katanga from Haussa People. Yarriba, or 
Yaruba, is likewise the Haussa pronunciation : Yoruba 
would be more correct. 


It is said by the Yonibans, that fifteen persons were 
sent from a certain region; and that a sixteenth, whose 
name was Qkarabi (an only child), and who was after- 
wards made King of Yoruba, volunteered to accompany 
them. The personage who sent them out presented 
pkambi with a small piece of black cloth, with some- 
thing tied up in it ; besides a fowl, a servant, and a 
trumpeter. Okinkin was the name of the trumpeter. On 
opening the gate of this unknown region, they observed 
a large expanse of water before them, through which 
they y/eTe obliged to wade. As they went on, Okinkin, 
the trumpeter, reminded Okambi of the small piece of 
cloth, by sounding the trumpet according to the instruc- 
tions he had previoudy received from the personage 
above mentioned. The cloth being opened, a palm-nut, 
which was deposited in it with some earth, fell into the 


water. The nut grew immediately into a tree, which 
had sixteen branches. As the travellers were all 
fatigued from their long march In the water, they were 
very glad of this unexpected means of relief; and soon 
climbed up, and rested themselves on the branches. 
When they had recruited their strength, they prepared 
agtan for the journey ; yet not without great perplexity, 
not knowing in what direction they should proceed. 
In this situation, a certain person^e, Okikisi, saw 
them from the region whence they set out, and reminded 
Okinkin, the trumpeter, of his duty ; on which he sounded 
again, and thus reminded Okambi of the small piece 
of black cloth, as before. On opening it, some earth 
dropped into the water, and became a small bank ; when 
the fowl, which was given to Okambi, flew upon it, 
and scattered it; and wherever the earth touched 
the water, it immediately dried up. Okambi then 
descended from the palm-tree, allowing only his servant 
Tetu, and his trumpeter, to come down with him. The 
other persons begged that tliey might be allowed to come 
down ; but he did not comply with their request until 
they had promised to pay him, at certain times, a tax of 
200 cowries each person. 

Thus originated the kingdom of Yoruba, which was 
afterwards called Ife ; from whence three brothers set 
out for a further discovery of better countries. At their 
departure, they left a slave, named Adimu (which sig- 
nifies " Holdfast"), to govern the country of Ife in their 

I have related this tradition with a view to show the 
confused idea of the Yorubans respecting both the 
Creation and the Flood. The Yorubans, like other na- 
tions, have always considered themselves the first people 
in the world ; especially as the kingdom of Yoruba, in 
former time, extended to Benin as well as to Dahomey. 

This tradition of the three brothers seems to be con- 



nected with the relationship still held with each other by 
the three principal chieftains in the kingdom of Yoruba ; 
namely, the chief of the Ketu tribe, called Alaketu, said 
to be the eldest ; the chief of the Egba tribe, called 
Alake, said to be the next ; and the king of Yoruba, the 
youngest, but to whom the others used to pay tribute in 
former days. 

lie is still regarded as the origin of the Yoruba nation, 
aswellasthe spotfromwhichall other nations derived their 
existence. The priests who are very superstitious, and 
much celebrated for their superior arts of divination, im- 
pose upon the nations many fabulous stories connected 
with Ife, the land of their ancestor. If^ is the pantheon 
of Yoruba : all kinds of idols are to be had there, and 
celebrated gods are frequently purchased there by the 
people of other tribes. So much has superstition taken 
hold on the minds of the people, especially the old, that, 
during our residence at Abbeokuta, several such gods 
have been purchased arid brought in from If^, one of 
which (Odudua) is now situated in the front of the 
Council-house at Ake, and sacrifices of beasts and fowls 
are made to it every five days, in order to obtmn children, 
wealth, and peace. 

They affirm, that not only all the nations of the world 
took their beginning in Ife, but that the sun, moon, and 
stars also commenced there : the source from which the 
salt water sprung out, as well as the Lagoon, the largest 
river known to them, which runs parallel with the sea, 
from Whydah through PortoNovo,Badagi-y and Lagos, in 
the Bight of Benin, is also pretended to be shown, but only 
to brother priests ftpm other tribes, or to ignorant and 
superstitious people, and not to any one who heis come 
from the white man's country. 

After the repulse of the Dahomian army in their at- 
tack upon Abbeokuta last year (1851), some of the 
prisoners were made presents to Oiif the chief of Ife, to 


Alaketu, the chief of Ketu, and to the king of Yoruba, 
to show what they had been enabled to do through their 
connexion with England, through the return of the 
liberated Africans to Abbeokuta, and the residence of 
Missionaries among them. In reply to which, the king of 
If& sent messengers with presents of kola-nuts, as a sym- 
bol of peace and friendship, to congratulate them upon 
their success and victory over their enemies. A special 
symbolical letter was also sent, witb a parcel of kola-nuts, 
to the Missionaries in Abbeokuta. The symbolical letter 
was the fibre of a species of hemp twisted into a small 
cord terminating in two divisions : the cord was bound 
t(^ether in three knots. The two parts represent the 
Egba and English nations, formerly separated and un- 
known to each other, but now become united by tight 
knots, one of which was the English, the other the 
Egba, and the third knot on the cord represented the 
chief of Ife who wishes to be the third in this union and 
friendship. This cannot be otherwise regarded than as 
the voice of that people calling to Missionaries to come 
over into their country, and help them, and to England 
particularly, to whom God has given the power and the 
means to evangelize and civilize Africa. 


The kings of Yoruba may be safely traced back to the 
time of Ajagb6, who reigned in Oyo (Katanga), and died 
at a very great age. The time of his reign cannot now 
be ascertained. He was succeeded by Abiodun, who 
also enjoyed a long and peaceful reign, and died an 
old man. The Elders of Yoruba always refer, in their 
conversation, to this last peaceful reign as a time of 
peculiar felicity, and one like which cannot again be en- 
joyed for a long time to come. About this time the 
Felatas (called also Filani or Fulani) were only known 
in the country as shepherds and herdsmen. _ They were 



permitted to feed their sheep and cattle wherever they 
liked, and generally lodged outside the towns^ in tents. 

After the death of Abiodun, Arogangan, his brother, 
succeeded him. Arogangan's nephew, Afiinja, born in 
Ilorin, whose father was a brave warrior, was made Are- 
obba (king's chief warrior), and was placed in Ilorin, 
the king thinking that Afunja, who otherwise would 
have been insubordinate, would be satisfied with this 
high post of honour ; but, instead of this, Afunja used 
every artifice that he could think of to dethrone Aro- 
gangan, that be might possess the kingdom. The king, 
being aware of his designs, under pretence of offence 
^ven to him by the people of Iwe-re, the town of Abio- 
diin's mother, sent Afunja to war against it, making sure 
that by this means he should remove Afunja out of the 
way: but the matter turned out the reverse. When 
Afunja got to Iwe-re, he told them that he was sent by 
Arogangan to fight against them. They were surprised 
at this unexpected declaration. Afunja was sent back ; 
and an army sent to demand Arogangan, and to fight 
agiunstOyo(Eatanga),in case of refusal to deliver him up. 
Oyo was besieged ; and Arogangan, dreading the conse- 
quence of falling into the hands of his besiegers, poisoned 
himself in the city; upon which the army departed from 
Oy6. The beginning of his reign may be supposed to 
be about the year 1800. He reigned seven years. 

Adebo succeeded his brotlier Arogangan. He was 
chosen by the Elders of Oyo, in preference to Afunja; 
who might now have been placed on the throne of 
Yoruba on account of his greatness of mind, but was 
refused because of Ms treachery. Adeb6 reigned only 
120 days. It is supposed that he was poisoned. 

Maku, one of the royal family, a favourite of Afunja, 
succeeded Adebo: but it appears that the majority of 
the inhabitants of Oyo were not well pleased with him. 
There was war at Igboho : and Maku, accompanied by 



X)p^ll^, one of the king's counsellors, took the command ; 
hut being unsuccessful in the undertaking, through pride, 
shame,- and vexation, be chose rather to die than return 
home ; so he killed himself. He reigned only three 

After Maku's death, it appears there was an interreg- 
num of five years, during which period the political affairs 
were conducted by one Ojo, who was Obbasorun (a privy- 
counsellor). Majotu succeeded Maku, and reigned for 
some time well ; but his son, being a very wicked young 
man, did a great deal of mischief in the kingdom, chiefly 
by kidnapping. The people complained very bitterly 
against him ; and at last required him to be delivered 
up, that he might be dealt with accordirfg to law. Ma- 
jotu felt very uneasy on account of his son's behaviour, 
and life became such a misery to him, that he preferred 
death to life, and poisoned himself. It is not certain 
how long he reigned. 

It is not uncommon among the Yorubans, under some 
injury, vexation, or disappointment, to commit suicide, 
either by taking some poisonous draught, sticking them- 
selves with a poisoned wrow, or cutting their throats or 
bellies with a sword or razor. Such are generally looked 
upon as acts of bravery. 

Amodo succeeded Majotu ; about which time the 
country of Yoruba was in great confusion. 

Afunja, who was made chief warrior in the kingdom, 
took the opportunity of the unsettled state of affairs in 
the capital to ingratiate himself with the people of Ilorin. 
He allowed them to make whatever use tiiey liked of 
their plunder in battle ; taking nothing from them, 
either for himself or for the king ; and thus encouraged 
them to war. By this means, such slaves as were not 
satisfied with their situation deserted their masters, and 
joined Afunja at Ilorin ; on doing which, they were de- 
clared free and independent. The Felatas, who had 



hitherto contented themselves with a pastoral life, began 
now to distinguish themselves as great warriors; and as 
they gained a firm footing in the country, they intro- 
duced their religion — that is, Mahommedanism. As 
Afiinja could not get to the throne in any other way, 
he tried to make himself friendly with the people of the 
capital, and to get them into quarrel with some principal 
Headmen in Ilorin, who, as it appears, began to be too 
strong for him. But they of Ilorin, being aware of his 
treacherous plans, caught him, and burnt him publicly 
in liorin, and exposed his ashes for many days. After 
this, the people of Il9rin, being mostly Mahommedan, did 
not think it proper to be subject to a Pagan king, but 
became independent ; on this account the civil war 
broke out, which has almost desolated {he kingdom of 
Yoruba. Since this time, Il9rin has become the ren- 
dezvous of the Mahommedan army. 

The surviving princes, who have a right to the throne 
of Yoruba in succession, are Atiba, Telia, Afunja 
(younger), and Ajibekun. Atiba is the present king of 
Yoruba. He removed the seat of government from 
Oyo to Aggo Oja, where he is now using every means 
in his power to subdue Ibrin. 






Among the purest Yoruba speakers, there are no less 
than three modes of pronouncing some words ; namely, 
the Capital — or Qyo — pronunciation, and two Provincial 
dialects— the Ibapa and the Ibollo. People from all 
parts of Yoruba are noyi together in the Colony of Sierra 
Leone, and each party contends for the superiority of its 
mode of utterance. I shall give an example of the 
principal difference. 

Ibollo. • 



" To open,' 



" To wort, 






I have taken the pronunciation of the Capital as the 
standard, as it appears to me to be the medium between 
the other two. 

I have assigned to each word its own sound, as near 
as possible. Some words will appear strange to a 
native in whose hearing they may be first pronounced ; 
and, if separately mentioned, he may be inclined to 
doubt the correctness of the word. This arises from his 
not being accustomed to use it separately, but only in 


sentences. If, for instance, you should ask him, " What 
means good?" he would give you O dara, " It is good," 
instead of the simple word, dara, "good." Or, if you 
should ask, "What means walk?" he would s&y, Ng 
nrin, " I am walking," instead of rin, " walk." It will, 
therefore, be well to ascertain the meaning of each word 
from a native by using the same in several sentences. 


The system of orthography employed is that recom- 
mended by the Church Missionary Society. The letters 
are.o, b, d, e, e,f, g, gb, k, i,J, k, I, m, w, o, p,p, r, «, *, t, u, w,tf. 

The VOWELS have the sounds usually termed Italian, 
as heard in the words — 


. . prey . . 
. aye?* . 
, . ravine . 
. . dome . 
. . law, lost 
. . ball . . 

. fadakh, " silver." 

. ewe, " \i 
. . fe, " to like," " to love." 
. . kt," to salute." 
, . wo, " to fall as a tree." 

. to, "to go." 
, . kutuku^, "early in the morning." 

ai . . mile atye, " world." 

ei. . ^e, "bird." 

oi. . voice Ot6o,"anEuropeaninbirthorhabits." 

oi. . 99^9h " slug^shly." 

The CONSONANTS b, d,f, h,j, k, I, m, n, r, s, t, w, y, re- 
present the same sound as in Englifih. 
Q has a hard sound, as in " get, got, gild." 

* The mocUfied e represents a sound between the Bounds oihat and 
hait, bardlj distinguishable by an English ear from the latter sound : 
cloeel]' approsimating t^ the English intern^tive aye, or the German 
«, Vater. 


Ob, a doable consonant, employed to represent a pecu- 
liar sound between those two letters, which can 
only be learnt by hearing. 

N, Ng, at the end of a word or syllable, should be 
sounded as slightly as possible, it being only a 
slight nasal sound; as, in rin, "to walk ;" yan, "to 
fry ;" yangan, " Indian corn ; «^, ** I." 

P is never sounded purely by itself, but always in 
combination with k. It has therefore been em- 
ployed alone to represent that peculiar sound be- 
tween them, as there is no danger of pronouncing 
it otherwise in the Yoruba language : so what would 
have been written jtpo, " to kill," kpi, " to be right," 
kpb, " to be abundant," is written pa^ pSy pb. It is, 
in fact, the hard sound corresponding to the soft gb. 

8 has the sound of sh in English. , 

C or T*, wA«t required, may be used for eh in English, 
as in " chariot, chalk, chide." 


The accents are the eumte, thegrave, and the drcumfiew. 
The Yoruba language is very musical : certain marks 
to distinguish the tones thus become indispensable. 
Two accents have therefore been used to point out this 
distinction, i.e. not to imply that a particular stress is 
to be laid on the accentuated syllable, but to mark a 
variety of intonation. The accents thus employed are, 

ACUTE, indicating elevation of tone, as, wS, "to be 

crooked ;" 
GRAVE, indicating depression of tone, as, wS, "to 
The follovring table will better exhibit the influence- 
which the acute and grave accents have upon words spelt 
alike, which, being differently intoned, take difiereot 
meanings — 


W, "to overtake;" 6a, "tolieinambushj" bA," to bespeak." 
U, " to appear ;" fe, " to be strong ;" tt, " to be able." - 

y^," to make much of;" y«, " to be fit ;" ^i, " to be out of place." 

Ai, " to salute ;" it, " to be thick ;" /d, " to press." 

h6, '* to gather ;" ko, an adverb, " very," fid, " to meet." 

(qualifying le," hard ;") 
m6, " to be clean ;" mo, " to build ;" wi^, " to know." 

4ii, " to die ;" hi, " to come short ;" A«, "to blow into dust." 

There is another peculiarity connected with the ac- 
cents, but with the grave especially. All the personal 
pronouns take the middle sound, as, emi, wo, on, &c. The 
contraction of the nominative— or subject of the verb — 
forms the objective — governed by a verb. When a 
personal pronoun, as an object, is governed by a verb 
taking the acute accent, it retains its usual middle tone. 
For example, William ha 'mi, " William overtook me ;" 
Peter mu V, *' Peter seized you ;" J^d ghb 'o, " The dog 
barked at him." Pronouns governed by the verbs ha, mii, 
and j/^, retain their usual middle tone. On the other 
hand, when any of these pronouns are governed by a verb 
taking either a grave — or depressed — tone, or a middle 
tone, the pronouns they govern must be pronounced 
with elevated tone, as if marked with an acute accent 
For example, WiUtam lu m{, " William beat me ;" Peter 
kb '6, " Peter metyou ;" Babha pb '6, " Father smelled it." 
It will be here observed that the pronouns mi, '6, and % 
have taken the elevated tone, being so influenced by the 
grave accent. And so, too, when the verb takes the middle 
tone, as, Ode ta won, " A wasp stung them ;" Ewe nse '6, 
" You are childish ;" Meu wu wd, " We had a narrow 
escape." All the personal pronouns being of the middle 
tone are subject to these changes of intonation ; hence 
arises one peculiar difficulty in the way of foreigners' 
learning to speak the language with perspicuity. 

Words of more than one syllable taking an elevated 
tone throughout have an acute accent on the first syllable ; 
as,g6tk^udu, "a drum;" pdnsa, "a dry calabash ;" kelekete, 


" an ass." So, also, words taking a depressed tone through- 
out have a grave accent on the Brst syllahle ; as, kiUukutu, 
"wirly in the morning;" (^6dn^6o," root;" Jpcse/'provision." 

When grave and acute accents happen together in a 
compound word, they are hoth employed ; as, gtidvgudu, 
" a poisonous wild yam." 

The accent is always indicated whien it is on the last 
syllable ; as, ponsS, " a fruit ;" gpmbp, " a small iron 
spoon ;" tubb, " persevere ;" pipp, " plenty, many." 

Words taking the middle tone generally carry the 
accent, as in English, on the firsfr syllable, and are not, 
therefore, marked in the dictionary, as the simple rule will 
be a sufficient guidance in this case. Thus, the words 
sagbe, "to beg alms;" obbo, monkey;" of>be, "knife;'' 
omi, " water ;". are of this class. 

The CIRCUMFLEX is also employed,and generally to mark 
a long vowel, caused by contraction of a letter or syl- 
lable ; as, keti for ko etiri, " to be callous ;" AM' for ko 
eriri, " to take out filth ;" or, in a long primitive word, 
■ as, in Sriln, " the sun." 


Syllables usually consist of two letters-— a consonant 
and a vowel, as, bd, de, mo, &c. There is only one word 
of two letters beginning with a vowel, which is not a 
prefix— OB, « he, and." Words of three letters are chiefly 
with the nasal n, as, won, san, km,jhi. 


Contraction of vowels is very common, especially when 
one terminates a word, and another commences the suc- 
ceeding word. The vowels are sometimes altogether 
changed into another vowel. 

The vowel of the noun is most frequently cut off, and 
that of the verb is lengthened ; as, nd qjd, " beat a dog," 



is contracted into m^a; tdn wo, "light fire," into tmrna; 
as shown in the following Table — 

1. When the verb is in a, as, ka iwe, " to read book," 

into kavx. 
2 e, as, ke ode, " to make procla- 
mation," into kede. 

B e, ast ke okun, " to set snare,"* 

into keki,n. 

4 S, as, bi ommp, " to bear a 

child," into bimmp. 

5. • . 0,as,k6 ille, " to rob a house," 

into koUe. 

6 p, as, flip t^," to build a house," 

into mgUe. 

7 «, as, toi didw, "to sift flour," 

mio ktduhL 
Sometimes, however, the vowel of the verb is cut off, 
and that of the noun is lengthened ; as, fbriTiahan for fi 
hnnahan, " to show the road ;" kprun for Id grun, " to 
fulfil five days ;" kdnu for ko ami, " to be sorry for ;" 
kegd,n for ko egan, " to reproach." 

When two vowels of the same kind follow each other, 
one only is retained ; as, n^a. for na qja, " to beat a 
dog ;" kge for AJ j?e, " to fulfil seven days ;" mbnna for 
mo pnna, " to know the road." 

Sometimes a change of the vowels takes place, and 
another vowel is substituted ; as, da irS, "to make a stand," 
into duro ; sa ire, " to run," into sure ; so ire, " to bless " 
or " wish happiness," into sure ; w'l ire, " to pronounce a 
blessing from the gods," into wure. 


No article has yet been discovered, and probably 
there is none. That which appears to resemble this 
part of speech is a demonstrative pronoun, »a, " that ;" 
kinni na, " that thing ;" okpnri na, " that man ;" ille na, 


" that honse ;" — namely, the thing, man, or house, alluded 
to. When a thing is spoken of indefinitely, the word 
okcm, contracted into 'kan, " one," is always added to the 
noun; bs, gkonri 'kan, "one man," i.e. "a man;" iUe 
Jam, " a house ;" kinni 'kan, " a thing," " one thing." 


Substantives are primitive and derivative. Primitives 
are those whose derivative cannot be ascertained ; as, 
omi, " water ;" ina, " fire ;" tg^i, " wood ;" enia, " people.' 
Derivatives are such as are derived from verbs and ver- 
bal adjectives ; as, from de, " to cover," ade, " a covering, 
a crown ;" bun, "to give," ^bvn, "a gift;" bi, " to bear," 
ibi, " birth ; pejapeja, " a fisher ;" gbenagbena, " a car- 
penter;" wpnsowgnsp, " a weaver." 

Derivation op Substantives. 
Substantives are formed — 

I. from verbs: by various prefixes, and by redupli- 
cation : — 

First, By Various praxes, as under: — 

1 . By prefixing a ; as, peja, " to fish," ap^a, " a fisher- 
man ;" bd, " to cover, shelter," dbo, " shelter, covering, 
refuge ;" lagbedde, " to have a smith's shop," alagbedde, " a 

2. By prefixing aU ; as, bg, " to come back ;" atibb, 
^' return ;" Ip, " to go," a/i/p, " a going ;" se, " to do," 
atise, " a doing." 

3. By prefixing c or e; as, " %W, " to have support," 
eUgbe, " a supporter ;" Use, " to have sin," elese, " a 

4. By prefixing i ; as, fb, " to wash," ifp, " the act of 
washing ;" s^, '* to cook," he, " the act of cooking ; kiri, 
" to wander," ikiri, " wfindering ;" gbbrta, " to be warm," 
igboTUt, " warmth, heat ;" Ipra, " to be slow, tardy," Hora, 
"slowness, tardiness." 



5. By prefixing o or o to words beginning with I, fol- 
lowed by or p ; as, l&wo, " to have money," olowo, " a 
rich person ;" lorun, " to have or possess h^ven ;" Olpnm, 
" the owner of heaven, God." 

. 6. By prefixing o to words beginning with n followed 
by «'; as, nibod^, "to possess or occupy a custom-house," 
onihotU, " a collector of customs ;" niglx^fund, " to possess 
shaving apparatus," onigh^amg, " a barber ;" n(d<^p, " to 
have judgment," onidajo, "a judge." 

Secondly, By Reduplication. 
This is effected. either — 

1. By doubling the verb ; as, peja, " to fish," pejapeja, 
" a fisherman ;" sise, " to labour ;" siseme, " a labourer.'* 

2. By an additional syllable, i.e. prefixing the conso- 
nant of the verb to the derivative substantive ; as,^*, " to 
be high," iga, " height," giga, "height;" k, " to be hard," 
Ule, " hardness ;" gbona, " to be hoi," gUgbona, or gbugbona, 
" heat ;" mo, " to be clean," tmtno, or mumo, " cleanliness ;" 
fun, " to be white ;" Jtjim, " white^pss." 

Words of this class are used both as substantives and 
adjectives : the sense only can determine them. 


By prefixing a privative to derivative substantives 
beginning with i ; as, igbo, " hearing, belief," aigbp, 
" unbelief ;" ighoran, " obedience," aigbpran, " disobe- 
dience ;" s^, " willingness, consent," ai/e, " unwilling- 
, ness ;" Up, " correctness," mtp, " incorrectness ;" ito, 
" sufficiency," aito, " insufficiency." 

The derivation of nouns from a verb, by prefixes, will , 
■ be seen to advantage by this scale — 


From the Verb S^, " to sin." 

S^, To sin. 

Ssff Sin. 

fes^, To have sin. 

elesi, A sinner. 

ilese, A state of having sin. 

aiies^, Sinless. 

lailese. In a sinless state. 

alailese, One who has no 

ise, A state of sin, 
aise, In a^tate of no sin. 
laise. To be in an inno- 
cent statb. 
eUaisf, An innocent person. 

From the Verb 7\i, " to pro- 
7T», To propitiate. 
^tutu, Propitiation. 
let&iUf To have propitia- 
eletutu, He who propitiates. 
Uetiitu, A state of having 

ailetutu, A state of having 

no propitiation." 
laHetdtu, Destitute of pro- 

alailetiitu,One in a state desti- 
tute ofpropitiation. 
itu, Ease, pacification. 
aita, Unpacified, uneasy, 
few'fti. To be in an uneasy 

alaitd, One unpacified. 

There are only two Genders, the Masculine and the 
Feminine. They are distinguished, 
I. By different words, as — 


Male akp. 

Man okpnri. 

Cock akukp. 

Bachelor . . . apon. 

King pbba. 

Husband . . .pkp. 
Married man . gkol^^nri. 
Father bahba. 


Female bo. 

Woman oUri. 

Hen agbebh. 

Maid wundia. 

Queen ayahha. 

Wife aya, oUri. 

Married woman .adelehh,aMkkso 
Mother iya. 


Widower . 
Captive . . 
Male lizard 

Head of a I 


Son ... . 

. apon. 
. i^behin. 
. iakalan^ba, 

. olori-egbe. 


Widow opo. 

Female Captive . ighesin. 
Female lizard , • cAori. 

Head of ai , ., 

„„„„„„„ t . - .oloriJco, 
company ) 

Daughter .... isokun. 
H. By an Adjective or a Noun prefixed to the Sub- 
stantive, as — 

Masculine. Feminine. 

Drake .... akp-pepeiife. I Duck .... aho-pepeiye. 
Horse .... ako-esin. Mare .... aho-esin. 

Boll ..... akp-malu. Cow aho-mah. 

Boy ommo-konri. \ Girl .... ommo-hmri 


Substantives have no plural, with one exception ; viz. 
" child," ommpde, " children," tnajesi. The plural of 
nouns is formed by adding the demonstrative pronouns 
wonyi, " these," and wonn\, " those," to the nouns ; as 
okonri wonyi, " these men ;" kinni wonnl, " those things." 
When the number is to be expressed, the numeral is 
put after the noun ; as, obhi rae^i, " two women ;" ofa 
metta, " three arrows." 


There are three Cases — the Nominative, the Possessive, 
and the O^ective. 

The NOMINATIVE is always placed before the verb ; 
as, babba d^, " (My) father returns ;" awa Ig, " We go ;" 
enyin lagbara, "You are strong," (or " you have strength.)" 

The POSSESSIVE case is expressed by the preposition H, 
" of," placed between two nouns or pronouns ; as, ^a 
H emi, " My mother ;" Hie ti babba, " (My) father's 
house:" — or by two nouns, or a noun and pronoun, 


with an apostrophe between them, signifying that ti is 
understood; thus pkkb 'pbba, " The king's ship;" asp ^a/a 
" (My) mother's clothes ;" dnna 'iM, " The town's road." 

The OBJECTIVE case is governed by active verbs ; as, 
MpfeJohn, " I love John ;" WUlmm nd aja, " William beat 
the dog ;" Mary td sinhrfa, " Mary sold rice ;" Qbogbo 
iSu nye hnna, " The whole town is clearing the road." 


There are two kinds of Adjectives, which may not 
improperly be called ParHi^tial, or Ferbal, and Compound. 

Participial, or Verbal, are such as partake of the 
nature of an adjective, and of the verb " to be ;" thus, 
tobi, " to be large ;*' here, " to be small ;" gtin, " to be 
long ;" kuru, " to be short." These admit of comparison. 

There are three degrees of comparison, Positive; 
Comparative; and Superlative. The comparative is 
formed by^, as, t(M, " to be big ;" tobyH, " to be bigger ;" 
the superlative, byJWo, as, tohijutp, " to be biggest," The 
SUPERLATIVE is frequently used when only two things are 
compared ; as, dara, " good ;" darajulg, " better" or " best." 

The syllable lo, the sign of the superlative, should 
always be placed after the noun ; the , comparative 
always before the noun ; as, lUe tfi ga, " This house is 
high ;" Eyin\ g«^^, " That one is higher ;" .%i (ifeoi gr0 
mefeji Ip, " That yonder is the highest," or "higher than," 
or " surpasses the other two." 

Compounds are formed by doubling the first sylla- 
bles of the verbal or participial adjectites ; as, here, 
" to be small ;" hekere, " small ;" ^n, " to be long ;" 
gugtln, " long," " tall ;" kuru, " to be short ;" kukuru, 
"short," &c. They are generally used to express the 
quality of an object, and are always placed after the 
noun ; as, pmmp kekere, " a little child ;" okpnri gugiki, 
" a tall man ;" obiri hukuru, " a short woman," These 
admit of no comparison. 

oy Go Ogle 


Some of these ^jectives take intensive or diminu- 
tive forms ; — 

Intensive, by doubling the word ; as, wfa, " large ;'' 
nlanla, "very large;" gbdm, *' extensive, (applied to 
vaXer) :"odd gbamgbam, "very extensive water." 

Diminutive, by adding the first syllable of the Com- 
pound to the last syllable ; as, kekere, " small," kekei'ekS, 
" very small ;" kiJdni, " little," kikiniki, " very little." 
There are some diminutives of quantity ; as, gingin, " a 
very small portion," tSntoro, " a very small drop." 

There are Personal, Relative, and A^ectwe Pronouns. 
There is no distinction of gender in any of them. 

The following are the personal pronouns : — 


Sing. Plural. 

1. Emi,mo,mp,ng . I. . . Awa ■ ■ • We. 

2. iwp, 0, 'g . . Thou. . enyin . ■ ■ You. 

3. OM, 0, 6 . He, she, awpn,nwpn . . They. 

. or it. 


ti atva, t'iwa . Ours. 

tienyin, finyin. Yours. 

tiingn . . . Theirs. 

1. ti emi, femi . . Mine. 

2. ti iwp, fitvo, tire, . Thine. 

3. tt on, ton, tire, tie, . His, hers, 

or its. 


Sing. Plural. 

1. mi Me. wa . . . Us. 

2. '6 Thee. nym . . . You. 

3. a, e, e, i, o, p,u. Him, her, won . . . Them. 

or it 


The use of these pronouns is regulated^ as follows, by 
a principle of euphony (frequently occurring in African 


languages), which has been termed the Euphonic Con- 
cord : — 

1. Emi is generally used with verbs taking ani/ of the 
vowel sounds ; as, Emi wa, " I conoe ;" emi se, " I 
did ;" emi de, " I set (a trap) ;" emi r%, " I saw ;" emi k6, 
" I gathered ;" emi kb, " I refused ;" emi wii, " I pleased." 
Ng, " I," two, " thou," and on, "he, she, it," fall under this 
class. Ng is. commonly used with future verbs; as, 
Ng ose, " I will do ;" ]S!g otd, " I will sell ;" Ng omu, " I 
will catch ;" Ng osise, " I will work :" also with the par- 
ticiple expressing an action not yet completed ; as, Ng 
nse, " I am doing," Ng ntd, " I am selling ;" Ng nmu, " I 
am catching ;" Ng nld, " I am escaping." 

2. Mo, " I," O, " thou," and 0, " he, she or it," are 
used with the close vowels, e, i, o, and «, only ; as — 

Mo dS, I come. Mo ri, I saw. 

O dS, Thou comest. O ri. Thou sawest. 

P de, He comes. O ri, He saw. 

Mo ko, I gathered. Mo tu, I lost. 

O ko, Thou gatheredst. O til, Thou didst lose. 

O ko, He gathered. O tu. He lost. 

When used to express the present participle. Mo, o, 
6, may be used with verbs taking any vowel sound, 
the discord or harshness being modified by the pre- 
fix n to the verb, which lengthens the vowel ; as, Mo 
ntd, " I am selling ;" nte, " you are trampling ;" 6 nfa, 
" he is drawing." 

3. Mo, " I," O, " thou," O, " he, ^he, or it," can be 
used with open vowels only ; viz. a,e,p; i 

I escaped. 
O la, Thouescapedst, 
O Id, He escaped. 

Mofe, I am willing. 

O fS, Thou art willing. 

O fe. He is willing. 
Mo Ip, I went. 
O h. Thou wentest. 
O lo, He went. 



Mo and Mo, " I," cannot be used with future verbs, but 
the rest of the pronouns may with their proper euphonic 


The Possessive Case is formed by prefixing 7^ *'of," to 
the nominative ; as, TV emi, " mine ;" TCwa, " ours," 
as exhibited in the above table. 


The ObjectiTe Case is governed by active verbs, and 
is very much subject to the influence of the accent, as 
was observed under the head of accents. The following 
tables will throw light upon the subject: — 


[ wounded it. 

£/mi sa a . 
Osi'e . 

1 wounaea ii. 
. Thou shuttest it. 

OnUe . 

. He cut it. 

Awa Hi 

. We thumped it. 

Enyin to o 

. You provoked it. 

Aiepn/p p 

. They broke it. 

Qbogho wa n 

i u, We all stirred it. 




. I picked it up. 

Iwosie . 

. Thou cookedst it. 

(Mb^S . 

. He begged him. 

Awa fit 

. We locked it. 

Enyin rh 6 

You stirred it up. 


. . They washed it. 

Gbogbo wa i 

a «, We all carried it. 



Ara kan a 

His body feels sore. 

Awa lio se e . 

We did it. 

Mp de S . . 

I entrapped it. 

Fi ekaima t'l % . 

Pinch it with (your) finger nail 

Alaro ro 6 

The dyer stramed it. 

Aghekpp . . 

The farmer collected it. 

Evm vmu . 

He was in danger. 



All personal pronoans of the objective case are sub- 
ject to these changes, through the influence of the 
accents or tone which the verbs bear. 



Etnind, I myself. Aicand, We ourselves. 

Iwmd, Thou thyself Enyinnd, You yourselves. 
Onnd, He himself. Awonn&, They themselves. 


I. Emitikaramife'rami, Hove myself 

„ ilwotikarare/e'rare, Thou lovest thyself. 

XlwoHkarare B 'rare, Thou beatest thyself. 
3. Ontikarare di 'ra r^. He binds himself. 

1. Awatikarawa we 'ra wa, We wash ourselves. 

2. Enyintikaranifin re 'ra nyin. Ye comfort yourselves. 

3. AwontikarawQnrd.n'rawon, They help themselves. 


TV, the only relative pronoun, is equivalent to < 
" who," " that," " which," and " what." It is used with 
the personal pronoun after it, in the nominative case ; 
Bs,0konnti6 M iggi, "the man he who cut wood." 
Babba ^ obi mi, " the father he that begat me." Ohiri 
ti seun, " the woman she who is kind." Kmni t( 6 bo, 
"the thing it which dropped." But in the objective 
case, the personal pronoun is omitted, the relative 
being then governed by the verb; as, Kinni ttmo/e, 
" the thing which 1 like." Rle ft mo wo, " the house 
which I pulled down." 


Nom. Tani? Who? I iwo.^'w.' Who? Which? 
Poss. TVtomPWhose? I Tiewo? Whose? or,Ofwhich? 



Nom. Ennikenni, Whosoever. 

Poss. Tennikenni, Whosesoever. 

Nom. Enniti, The one which. 

Poss. Tennitt, Of the one which, 

Kt? Kinla ? are emphatical interrogatives ; as, Ki U o 
wi? " What do you say ?" Kinia ? « What f When a 
question is asked, the stress is always Imd upon the last 
word, and the voice is modulated according to the tone 
that word takes, whether elevated, middle, or depressed ; 
for example — 

Bahha ti m? ■ What does (your) father say? 

Ewo ni ki ase ? What shall we do ? 

Ewo li nrb? What are you thinking of? 


Adjective Pronouns are IHstributive, Demonstrative, and 

1. The DISTRIBUTIVES are olukuluku, " each ;" ennikan, 
"either;" gbogbo, "every ;" as, Ki olukuluku H o t^u ara 
re, " Let each one take care of himself" Emi kb ri enni- 
kan won, " I have not seen either of them." Gbogbo wa 
li ase Olorun, " Every one of us has offended God." 

2. The DEMONSTRATIVES are, eyiyi, eyi,yi, " this ;" eyini, 
eni, lii, nd, " that ;" wonyi, " these ;" wpnni, " those ;" as, 
Okgnri yi, " this man ;" Ommo m, "that child ;" Takardd 
woyi, " these books ;" OJfte wpnm, " those knives." — Nd 
is used as follows : Mu gUe nd wd, " Fetch that (or the) 
handkerchief (before spoken of)." Pe ommode- nd padd, 
" Call the (or that) child back." Okpnri nd ka, " That, 
(or the) man is dead," Ki is also frequently used in the 
same manner; as, Orp nb, "That (or the) word (under- 

3. The INDEFINITE PRONOUNS are, die, " some ;" omiran, 
or omi, " other ;" enmkenni, " any ;" eata, " one ;" gbogbo, 
" every, all ;" iri., " such ;" arare, " oneself." 



Verbs are of three kinds — Active, Passive, and Neuter. ■ 
They without inflexion. 

Verbs Active govern the objective case ; as, Mo kg 
teftord^ "I wrote a book ;" Ori" mi, " He saw me ;" ]^a 
pe mi, " (My) mother called me." 

Verbs Passive are formed simply by prefixing a, or 
nwon to the active verbs ; as, Akp takardd, " A book is 
written ;" Art mi, " I am seen,;" Ape wd, " We are 
called ;'* Nwon le won, " They are driven." 

In Verbs Neuter the sense is complete, without any 
substantive following; as, lUe w6, "(The) house fell;" 
Mo subu, " I fell down ;" lyd siin, " (My) mother slept." 
There is another kind of verb, formed by the help of a 
preposition, which may not improperly be called Com- 
pound Active Transitive. The nouns or pronouns which 
they govern are always placed between them ; as, 
Bdf foUowed by wt, " to rebuke," " scold," " blame ;" 

from ba, ** with " and w(, " to speak ;" Babha hd 

mi wi, " (My) father blamed me." 
Bd, foUowed by sorp, " to hold conversation ;" Baile ba 

mi sbrp, " The governor conversed with me." 
Ft, " to put," followed by si, " to ;" JFV pbbe si ^kkp r^, 

" Put the knife into its sheath." 
Ddj " to be clear," " evident," followed by Igu, " to the 

eye ;" Odd wa loju, " It is certain to us." 
71, " to push heavily," followed by fo/w, " at, or to the 

eye ;" Oran nd fi boMta l^u, " The matter made 

(our) father ashamed." 
When expressing the instrument by which one acts 
upon another, the noun denoting that instrument is placed 
in the first part of the sentence, and governed by the 
preposition, which is now placed immediately before the 
verb, while the verb itself governs the object acted upon ; 
as, Iggi li ofi B u, " He beat him with a stick ;" Idd li ofi 
sd a, ** He cut it with a s^vord ;" Ind H awafijo o, *' We 
burnt it with fire." 

I),. .."..■v,vK)J^lc 


£*', " can, may." 

Ma, mase, "do not." 

Ma, " be doing." 

2'i, " have, have been." 

Title, " though — should." 

Yio, O, "shall, will, must." 

Sa, "should, would." 

Ghgddh," Aare not, shall 

not, must not." 
Iba, "should, would, had." 

Je,jeki, " let, let that." 

Ki, " may." 

For examples — 

Nigbati two yio ba lo w'tfun mi, "Tell me when you 
should go." 

On kogboddo wd, " He dare (or shall) not come." 

Awpti ibd ma Ip, " They should be 'going." 

Je Id nwon ki o ma, " Let them take." 

Ki oma wd, " He may come {or be coming)." 

O U isure, " He can (or may) run," or, " He is able to run." 

Md bh-u, " Fear not." 

Ma sd lo, " Be running away (Run away at once)." 

Awa ti mu, " We have caught." 

Bi 6 tiUe B mi, " Though he should strike me." 

On ni yio sure fun 'p, " It is he who shall bless you." 

These verbs, like ijie others, have no variation : it is 
by them the principal verbs are conjugated. These ex- 
amples, as well as the conjugation of the verbs " To be," 
"To have," and "To love," will plainly show how they 
are variously constructed to express the ideas conveyed 
by the different moods. 

The infinitive mood expresses any ^ing in a general 
and unlimited manner. 

It has often very much the sense of *' that he may ;" 
as, Wijwi u ki se e, " Tell him that he may do it," 
ie."to do it ;" Ran akt o p^ e," Send him that he may 
call him," i.e. " to call him." Ki o, " that he may," is 
contracted into ko ; ki a, " that we may," into kd. This 
mode of expressing the infinitive is used only when the 
second or third person is desired to act in the name of 

When the first person expresses his own action, H Aw, 


VERBS. 19 

or ko, kif kia, or ka, are never used. Nouns derived from 
verbs by the prefix i are then employed for the infinitive, 
when two verbs follow each other ; as. Mo wa iwb n^n, 
" I come to see (or, a seeing) you ;" Awpn wa ibe 'p, 
'*They come to beg (or, a begging) you ;" Lg ipi gmmp 
mi, " Go to call (or, a calling) my child." The prefix i, 
by attraction, is placed before the auxiliaries to the verb ; 
as, Em ni ima ikp 'p m ise, " It is I who used to teach 
you to work," or " a working ;" Iwp ni iti imd imu mi Ip 
si Ule-iwe, " You have been used to take me to school." 
When the language is spoken very rapidly, contraction 
takes place, and the sound of the prefix becomes quite 
imperceptible, but the last vowels of the verbs become 
very long, as if written thus, Iwp nl ti ma mu* 

Ati, lati, " to," " in order that," *' to the effect that," is 
also very much used to express the infinitive, when an 
intention or object is had in view ; as, Emi nmura lati Ip, 
, "I am preparing to go {or, to the intent of going);" 
^jo npete ati rb, " The rain is about to fall ;" Okkp setan 
lati si, " The ship is ready to start." 


The only form to express a participle is n, generally 
prefixed to the verb in the present time, and to the auxi- 
liary and the verb in the past time ; as. Present, Ng nip, 
" I am going ;" nbb, " He is coming ;" Awa nti me, 
" We have been doing ;" Enyin nti nsd, " You have been 
running away ;" B(Aba nti np^, " (Your) father has been 

Ma, one of the defective verbs, is also used instead of 

■ Hence this form of contraction without the accent, or prefix, will 
be met with in some placea in the early translations ; thus, £o peie for 
Lq ipese, " Go to prepare ; " On hb li lo for On kd li ilo, " He is not 
able to go ;" Emi ti ma duro for Emi ti imd iduro, " I who used to 
stand," &c. 



n in the second future time : Iwo yio H mala hi 6 to di, 
"Thou wilt have been going before he arrives;" On yio 
ft ma bo, " He will have been coming." 


1 have used the word time instead of tense, because 
tense is a nicer distinction of times ; which distinction I 
do not think can always easily be made in the Yoruba 
language. However, a little explanation about the use 
of the tenses may be serviceable. 
The present and past indefinite tenses are both alike ; as, - 

Mp to, I go ; I went. 

Awa de, We return ; We returned. 

O s^n. He sleeps ; He slept. 

Ojoko, Thousittest; Thou sattest. 
Prom these examples it will be seen that some atten- 
tion is required to know which tense is used. 

The present tense, strictly speaking, is more fre- . 
quently expressed by the sign of the participle n, and it 
is then understood that the actipn is not yet past ; as, 
Awa nko takarda, " We are writing (a) book ;" O nta asp, 
" Thou art selling clothes ;" Enyin nsise, " You are 
working." Therefore, if in any of those foFmer sen- 
tences the meaning would be equally well expressed 
by prefixing the sign of the participle, it is in the pre- 
sent tense. 

The past tense has generally the time mentioned with 
it ; as, Nigbati nwon de, " When they returned ;" sUn 
Ipssan, " He slept in the day-time ;" Mp kp takarda nyetta, 
" I wrote a book the day before yesterday f O ta asp 
hni, " He sold clothes to-day ;" 6 sise lamtd, "He worked 
yesterday." But the tense is often clear without any men- 
tion of time, because the actions were past by the time 
'they are spoken of; as, d td asp, "He sold clothes;" 
Mp kp takarda, " I wrote a book ;" O sise, " He worked." 
The word tan, " done," is very often added to the past 

tense ; as, O aise tan, " He worked done," or " He done 
worked," i e. " finished working." 

The perfect and pluperfect are alike, and convey an 
allusion to the present time, when «, the sign of the par- 
ticiple, is prefixed to the verb ; as, 
Mo tiri'o I have seen thee. 
O titct a He has sold it. 
Enyin ti so, You have run away. 
Mo ti nri o, I have been seeing thee. 
O ti ntd a, He has been selling it. 
Enyin ti nsd, You have been running away, 
(up to this time). 

There is another form, by prefixing the sign of the 
participle to the auxiliary and the verb ; thus, 

Ng nti nri 'p, I have, or, had been seeing thee. 

O nti ntd, a, He has, or, had been selling it. 

Enyin nti nsd, You have, or, had been running away. 

The first future describes time indefinitely, and is 
expressed by the sign yio, often contracted into^ o pre- 
fixed to the verb ; as. On yio Ig, " He will go ;" Or^ yio 
rdn, " The sun will shine." 

Contraction of yio to o is very frequent, in which case 
is only prefixed to the verb ; and as the rule of eupho- 
nic-vowel-concord must be always observed, the con- 
tracted prefix is sometimes written p ; as, Awa pip for 
Awa dp, or yio Ip, "We shall go;" Enym psd for Etofin 
osd, or Yio sd, "Ye will run away." But as the short 
vowel will always influence the auxiliary yio, or o, whe- 
ther distinguished or not, I have thought it proper to 
adhere to one form, yto or o only, in the paradigms, to 
avoid ambiguity. 

The second future, which describes an action to be 
finished before another future action or event, is ex- 
pressed by the auxiliary ti added to the sign of the 
future jfio, and sometimes tan, "done," is also added to 
the verb ; as, Emi yio U Ip ki 6 to dS, " I shall have gone 


before he comes ;" lUe wa yto ti pari H nwon ki 6 to wa 
isin owb wga, " The house shall have been completed be- 
fore they come to ask their payment ;" £^i yio tijeun 
tan H ato p^ 7m, " I shall have eaten before I am called." 

The following are the Yoruba verbs expressing 
existence — 
Mbe, Wd,y " to be," « to exist," " existing ;" as, Bahba 

mh}, or Bahba wa, " (My) father is (alive)." 
Rif " is," showing the state or condition of a thing ; as, 

Behe li 6 rf, " So it is." 
Ni, "it is;" as, Emina ni, "It is I myself;" Tiwo ni, *'It 

is thine." 
iV?, followed by je or se, with the prefix i, — " is," empha- 

tical ; as, Temi ni ise, or Temi ni ye, " It is 

Jepe, Sepe, " been," always preceded by iba, " had ;" 

as, Ibd J^e emi ni, or Iba sepe emi ni, " Had it 

been I." 
Gbe, " to be," " to be in a place," " to remain." This 

verb is used in the imperative mood, instead of 

mbe ; as, Je M end gbe, " Let me be, or remain." 
Se, " to be ;" as, Ki ise emi, " It is not I." 

Mbe, " To Be." 


Awa nU>e, We are. 
Entfin mbe. Ye or you are. 
Awgn mbe, They are. 


Awa nti »(6e, Wehavebeen. 
En^nnHmbe,Ye or you 

have been. 
Awgn nti nibe,They have 


Emi mbe, I am. 

Im mbe, Thou art. 

On mbe, He, she, or it is. 

Mm nti mbi, I have been. 
Iwg nti mbe, Thou hast 

On nti mhe, He, she, or it 

has been. 


Emi omhk, 

or »gom\ 
Iwo omhe, 
Yio ombe, iHe, she, or it 

or on ombei will be. 

! I shall be. 
Thou wilt be. 

AvM ombe, We shall be. 
Enyin ombe, Ye or you 

will be. 
Avion omhe. They will 



E Let me be. 

Jek' a' gbe, 

Jeki emi gJ^, Let me be. 
hog gbe. Be thou. 
Jeki gbe. Let him be. 


Jeki 'm' 

orje' 'tn' gbe 
Iwp gbe, Be thou. 

Je 6 gbe. Let bim be. 



Emi ^ mbe, I may or can 

Iwg U mbe. Thou mayst or 

canst be. 
On U tnb^. He, she, or it 

may or can be. 


Jeki awa gbe, Let us be. 
Enyin gbe, Be ye, 
Jeki won gbe, Let them be. 
(mostly used.) 

Let US be. 
Be ye. 

Je' won gbe, Let them 

Awa U mb^. We may /n- 

can be. 
Enyin U mbe, Ye or you 

may or can be, 
Awgn U mhe. They may or 

can be. 

Awa li ft' mb^. We might 

have been. 
Enyin l^ U mb}, Ye or you 

might have been. 
Awm U ii mhe, They might 

have been. 

Emi U ti ^e, I might have 

Iwo l^ ti mbe. Thou might- 

est have been. 
OnU ti mbe, He, she, or it 

might have been, 



Bi em mbe. If I be. I Bi awa mbe. If we be. 

Bi two mbe. If thou be. Bi emfin rnbe. If ye or you 

.Bi on mbe, If he, she, or it be. 

be. I Bi awm mbe, If they be. 


Si end ti mb^, 

Bi iwg ti mbi, 

Bi on ti ttib^, 

it has been. 

Bi 'm' mb^, ) 
or bi mo mb^ \ 
Bi mh^, 

If I have 
If thou hast 
If he, she, or 

5* atoa ti mbe, If we have 

Bi enyitt ti mbe, If ye or 

you have been. ' 

Bi awon ti mbe. If they 

have been. 


If I be. . 

If thou be. 
If he, she, 
or it be. 

M, « To Have." 

Bi a' mb^. If we be. 

Bi e' mbe. If ye or you be. 
Bi 'won mb^, If they be. 

Emi m, I have. 

Iwp n{, Thou hast. 

On m, He, she, or it has. 

Emi ti nf*, I had, or have 

Iwp ti m, Thou hadst. 
On ti m, He, she, or it had. 


Emiom, )I shall or will 

orngmiS have. 
Iwg oni, Thou shalt or wilt 

Yi oni, ) He, she, or it shall 

or on ont) or will have. 

Awa ni, We have. 
Enyin ni, Ye or you have. 
Awgn ni, They have. 

Awa ti ni, We had, or have 

Enyin ti ni, Ye or you had. 
Awpn ti ni, They had. 


Awa oni, 

Enyin oni, Ye or you shall 

or will have. 
Awgn oni, They shall or 

will have. 


Emi (or, ng)\l shall have 

oti ni } had, 
Iwootirn, Thou wilt have 

On oti ni. He, she, or it 

will have had. 

Awa oti ni, We shall have 

Enyin oti ni, Ye or you will 

have had. 
Awon nti ni, They will have 




JeM emi ni. Let me have. 
iVi, or two ni, Have thou. 
Jeki 6 ni, Let him, her, 
or it have. 

Jeki avM ntf Let us have. 
Eni/in ni, Have ye. 
Jeki won ni. Let them 

For the contracted form, see above, page 23. 
For the sake of euphony, the imperative generally takes 
between the noun and the verb ; as, 

Jeki aiva om, Let us have. 
Ki enyin oni, Have ye. 
Jeki awpn and. Let them 

Jeki emi oni, Let me have. 
Ki iwo oni, Have thou. 
Jeki on oni, Let him, her, 

or it have. 

In the contracted form, except in the 3d person 
plural, the o is rejected. 



Emi Ik ni, I may or can 

Iwo U ni, Thou mayst or 

canst have. 
On U ni. He, she, or it 

may or can have. 

1 may or can 

End U ti ni, 

have had. 
Iwg li ti ni. Thou mayst 

or canst have had. 
OnU ti ni. He, she, or it 

may or can have had. 

Awa U ni. We may or can 

Enyin Ik nt, Ye or you may 

or can have. 
Awpn U ni, They may or 

can have. 


Awa U ti ni. We may or 

can have had. 
Enyin U ti ni, Ye or you 

may or can have had. 
Awpn li ti ni, They may 

or can have had. 



Bi emi ni. If I have. 
Bi two ni. If thou have. 
Bi on ni. If he, she, or it 

Bi awa ni, If we have. 
Bi enyin m, If ye or you 

Bi awpn ni, If they have. 



Bi em ba ni. If I had. 
Bi two ha ni, If thou 

Bi on ba n{, If he, she, 

or it had. 

Bi atca hd ni. If wehad. 
Bi enyin ba «f, If ye or 

you had. 
Bi awon ba ni, If they 


Bi emi ba ti ni, If I have 

Bi two ba ti ni, If thoa 

hast had. 
Bi on ba ti ni. If he, she, 

or it has had. 

Bi awa hd ti ni. If we have 

Bi enyin bd ti ni. If ye or 

yuu have had, 
Bi awon bd ti ni. If they 

have had. 

Btemt(pr,)^-^ , ,,, 

V L' (Iilahouldhave. 
ng) om 3 

Bi iwo oni. If thou shouldst 

Bi on (or, ) If he, she, or it 

^0 oni ) should have. 


Bi awa oni. If we should 

Bi enyin oni, If ye or you 

should have. 
Bi awon oni, If they should 



Emi (or, i 

. , (I am havine. 
ng) nm J ° 

Iwg nni. Thou art having. 

On nni, lie, she, or it is 


Si emi (or, ng) ) If I were 
n-ha nni, ] having. 

Bi iwg n-bd nni, If thou 
wert having. 

Bi on n-bd nni, Ifhe,she, 
or it were having. 

Awa nni. We are having. 

Enyin nni. Ye are having. 
Awon nni. They are 

Bi awa n-bd nni, If we 

were having. 
Bi enyin n-bd nni, If ye or 

you were having. 
Bi awon n-bd nni, If they 

were having. 


Bi emi (or, ng) i If I have 
n~ba ntl nni J been having. 
Si iwp Vr-ba nti nni, If thoa 

hast been having. 
Bi on n-bd nti nni, If he,she, 

or it has been having. 

Bi awa n-hd nti nni, If we 

have been having. 
Bienyinn-bdntinnifli ye 

or you have been having. 
Bi awon n-bd nti nni, If tliey 

have been having. 

Tliese last two examples will shew the peculiarity of 
_ the Yoruba language, in the mode of expression by par- 

The conjugation of the verb w» is a sufficient example 
for any active verb. 

In order to give a clear example of the pronouns, one 
form has been used throughout, with the exception of a 
few instances. If the rules and examples for the use of 
the pronouns, in pages 12 — 14, be properly attended 
to, the learner, when he has mastered the pronunciation, 
will in a very short time be able to speak the language^ 
almost like a Native. 

The idea expressed in other languages by the passive 
verb is expressed in Yoruba by the active, preceded by 
a (a contraction ofmvm), or by moon, which in this case 
represents an indefinite pronoun.* 

Afe, "To beloved." 



Afe mi, I am loved. 
A^p, Thou art loved. 
Afke, He, she, or it is 


Afe wa, We are loved. 
A^ njfin, Ye or you are 

4/? won. They are loved. 

■ Similar to the 

French on.— Ed. 


life mi, I have been 

Atife wa, We haye been 



ft'/l p. Thou hast been 

Atife ny'm, Ye or you have 


been loved. 

H/S e. He, she, or it has 

Atife won, They have been 

been loved. 



o/S mi, I shall be 

A ofk wa, We shall be 



ofe p. Thou wilt be 

A ofe nyin. Ye or you will 


be loved. 

ofe e, He,slie,orit will 

A ofS won, They will be 

be loved. 



A otifS mi, I shall have 

been loved. 
A otife 'p, Thou wilt have 

been loved, 
A oti fS e. He, she, or it 

will have been loved. 

A otife wa, We shall have 

been loved. 
A otife nyin, Ye or yoa will 

have been loved. 
A otife won. They will have 

been loved. 


Jeki afe mi, Let me be 

Ki afe 'p, Be or mayst 

thou be loved. 
Jeki afe e, Let him, her, 

or it be loved. 

Jeki afe wa, Let us be 

Ki afe r^in, Be, or may 

you be loved. 
Jeki afe wpn. Let them 

be loved. 



AUf^ mi, I may or can be 

AlSfS p. Thou mayst or 

canst be loved. 
Alife e, ^e,%he,or it may 

or can be loved. 

AUfe wa, We may or can 

be loved. 
AUfe nyin. Ye or you may 

or can be loved. 
Al^fe wpn. They may or 

can be loved. 


AU ti fe mi, I might or 
could have been loved. 

AH H/e p, Thou might- 
est have been loved. 

Ali tife e. He, she, or it 
might have been loved. 

AU tife wa, We might 

have been loved. 
AIS tiff nyin, Ye or you 

might have been loved. 
AU ft"/^ torn, They might 

have been loved. 

Bi afe mi. If I be loved. 
Bi afk p, If thou be 

Bi afe e, If he, she, or it 

be loved. 


Bi afe wa. If we be loved- 
Bi afe nyin. If ye or you be 

Bi afe won, If they be 



Bi aJa l^fe mi, If I can 

be loved. 
Bi aha IZfe p, If thou 

canst be loved. 
Bi aba U fe e, If he, she, 

or it can be loved. 


Bi al& Hfk mi. If I can 

have been loved. 
Bi aU Hfe p, If thou canst 

have been loved. 
Bi al^ tife e. If he, she, 

or it can have been loved. 

Bi aba life wa, If we 

can be loved. 
Bi aba life r^in, If ye or 

you can be loved. 
^i c^d life won, If they 

can be loved. 

Bi ale tife wa, If we can 

have been loved. 
Biali tife nyin, Ifyewyou 

can have been loved. 
Bi aH ti fS won. If they can 

have been loved. 


Bi aba Ufe mi. If I have 

been loved. 
Bi aba tife p, If thou 

hast been loved. 
Bi aba tifi e. If he, she, 

or it has been loved. 


Bi aba Hfi wa, 

have been loved. 
Bi aba ti fe nyin. If ye or 

you have been loved. 
Bi aba tife won, If they 

have been loved. 





An/^ mi, 

j1«/« P, Thou art being 

Attfi e. He, she, or it is 

being loved. 

Bi an-hd nfe mi. If I were 

being loved. 
Bi an-hd nfe p, If thou wart 

being loved. 
Bi an-bd nfe e, If he, she,or 

it were being loved. 

Bi an-bd nti nfe mi. If I were 

having been loved. 
Bi an-bd nti nfe p, If thou 

wert having been loved. 
Bi an-bd nti nfe e, If he, 

she, or it were having 

been loved. 

AnfeiBo, We are being 

Anfe nyin, Ye or you are 

being loved. 
Anfe won, They are being 


Bi an-hd nfk wa. If we 

were being loved. 
Bi an-hd nfe nyin, If ye or 

you were being loved. 
Bi an-bd nfe tcpn, If they 

were being* loved. 

Bi an-bd nti nfe wa. If we 
were having been loved. 

Bi cm-bd nti nfe nyin. If ye 
w you were having been 

, loved. 

Bi an-banti nfe won. If they 
were having been loved. 


The Adverb is one of the most expressive parts of 
speech in the Yoruba language, and yet flie most diffi- 
cult to define. Almost every adjective and verb has its 
peculiar adverb to express its quality. 

An adverb may be known as such by its being placed 
after an objective case or verb ; as, A^ tire rere, *' He 
reads well Qit. He reads book well) ;" Ostl dara dara, 
" He does it well ;" Awa duro sensen, " We stand up- 

Ad adverb, expressing the quality of a verbal adjec- 
tive, is generally placed after it ; as, Iggi gafiofw, " The 



tree is exceedingly tall ;*' Aso yi j)6n roMroki, *' This cloth 
is beautifully yellow ;" Ododo pupa roro, " The scarlet is 
deeply red ;" Awojyin ndan mdranmaran, " The glass is 
dazzling (from the smoothness of its sui-face)." The 
exact idea oijwfio, rokiroki, roro, and mdranl^^aran, cannot . 
easily be expressed in English. 


Nihi^, ** here," " herein," " Iiither ;" tube, " there," 
" thither ;" mbo, " where," " whither ;" nibomiran, " else- 
where;" mbUcibi, "anywhere," "whithersoever;" niW- 
kan, "somewhere;" loki, "upward;" nisaUe, "down- 
ward ;" niwqju, " forward ;" lehln, " backward." 

Loni, "to-day;" niisiyi,nisisiyi, "now," "immediately;" 
fid, " already ;" nisaju, " before ;" mloh, " lately ;" lanna, 
"yesterday;" wi/aJ^a», " heretofore ;" diswi^i, "hitherto;" 
tipe, " long since ;" m^ftanJ, " long ago ;" loUa, " to-mor- 
row;" Aoi'to, Ao(rtfo, "not yet," w "not yet enough;" lati- 
hiyUp, "hereafter," "henceforth," "henceforward;" nike- 
kin, " afterwards ;" ni^haghogbo, " oft," *' often," " oft- 
times," " oftentimes ;" ni^jam/ran, "sometimes;" niisiyi, 
nisisiyij " soon ;" nighose, " by-and-bye ;" koto, " before," 
"sooner than;" ?o/g?p, "daily;" losspse, or Ipsselpsse, 
"weekly;" /o«o*«, "monthly;" /prfjwfMn, " yearly ;" nigba- 
kugba, "always;" nighaghogho, "every time;" nigbati, 
"when;" nje,"then" /oi, "ever," "never;" Iailai,''ever," 
"for ever;" ewe, "again," 


Pupb," much;" rfw,"little;" to,"suflBciently," "enough;" 
t^p-to, "how much;" titobUo, "how great;" piphpipp, 
" abundantly." 


Lotp, "justly," "truly," "in truth," "verily;" kankan, 
"quickly," "hastily;" IpUm, goigpi, "slowly." Adverbs 
of this kind are generally expressed in phrases ; as, f£ 


i bi asiwere, " He did it foolishly {lU. as a foolish per- 
son) ;" Mojiogbon »e k, "I did it wisely, {lit. with 

Negation of quality is mostly expressed by kb and se; 
as, Kb se rere, " He acts unkindly (lit. does not do 
good);" Kbfipghonsei, "He did it unwisely (lit. not 
with wisdom)." 

Excess of degree is often expressed by gidigidi, Jgjo, 
tete, Slc, or by the adverb peculiar to the verb or adjec- 
tive, whosequality it indicates. The adverb is generally 
doubled ; as Afefe na fe gidigidty " The wind blew ex- 
ceedingly ;" Okkb yi rin Jgjp, " This ship sails very 
swiftly (/tY. walks very much);" Ommpde yisu-re tete, "This 
child runs very swiftly ;" Emi nrinjg§je, " I am walking 
very slowly." 


BSya, " perhaps," " peradventure," " perchance ;" 
bolese, hoUsepe, " if possible." 


Loto, " verily," " truly," "undoubtedly," "doubtless," 
" certainly," " yea," " yes," " surely," " indeed," " really ;" 
en, " yes," " indeed," — this is an interrupting affirmation 
during the course of conversation. 


NJc6, "not ;" n-n, " no ;" kinnyebe, " nay," " not at all," 
" by no means," " in no wise." 


Bawo ? " how 1" ese ? " why ?" H ? " how ?" ntOT^'ami ? 
latorilanni ? nitorikinm ? " wherefore ?" 


(fil, "more;" Jm fo, "most, (K/. more past, or more 
than past);" san or sandie, "better;" sat^& lo, "best;" 
bun^a, *• worse ;" bw^H lo, " worst ;" kerept, " less ;" 
kerejUlo, "least;" kikinni, " the least ;"/crl, "almost;" 
die, " little ;" ggbogba, " alike ;" g^ge, " alike." 

C 33 ) 


As in English, Prepositions serve to connect ■ words, 
and to shew the relation between them. They are placed 
before (and in a few instances after) nouns and pronouns ; 
as the following sentences will shew — 

Sd, ** with," denoting assistance or companionship ; 
as, John ba William se i, " John helped William to do 
it." Ommp 're ba mi lo, " Your child went with me." 

D^,"(or," "ready against;" as, Duro di mi, "Wait 
for me." O se i de mi, " He made it ready against my 

Fi, " with," denoting the instrument ; as, J^ iggi it \, 
" Push it with a stick." Fipbbe sd a, "Cut it with a knife." 

Fuyfun, "for;" as, Siseh i/ifumi,"T)o this work for me." 

Kgja, Rekgfa, " above," (in quality) ; as. Mo kgjd (or, 
Mo rekpjd) ira nkan wpnni, " I am above such things." 

Ijukoko, " about," applied to time or place ; as, Lakokb 
igba na m, " It was about that time." 

Lara, " from among," applied to things ; as, Mu meji 
wa lara won, "Fetch two from among them." 

Larin,Itaffbedemgif " through," " between •" ss, Mdk^d 
larin wa, " Do not pass between us." 

Leti, " near," " by," " at the edge of ;" as, Leti ille habha- 
^tp», " Near the priest's house." Leti bode, "By the 

Lekin, " behind," " after ;" as, 7^ mi lehm, " Follow 
after me." 

Lode,'" without," " outside ;" as, Duro lode ille, " Stand 
outside the house." Awpn ti mbe lode U Olprun obd w'^p, 
" Them who are without, God shall judge." 

LoM, Lori, " over," " above," " beyond," " on," " itpon ;" 
as, Olgrun mhe loki prun, " God is above the sky, 
(or, beyond the clouds)." Lori orule, "On the roof." 
Loke q^a, "Upon the attic." 

Lpddpy " from," " with," " at," applied only to persons ; 


I),. u-.vvA)OJ^Ic 


as, Lo igba takarda wa loddb oton-Ule-iiee, " Go fetch the 
book from the schoolmaster." On n^ Igddg r^, " It is 
with him." 

Nif " at" " in ;" as, Bahha nibe »t ille, " (My) father is 
in the bouse, {or at home)." For the contraction, see 

Niha, " by," " at," " near," " about ;" as. On mb^ niha 
kanga, '* He is by the well." 

iSfino, " in," " within," " into," " among ;" as, Alaghara-^ 
tiAe nino wa, " A strong person is amongus." ly^un mbe 
mm agbdj " There is flour in the cask." 

NisaUe, " under," " beneath," " below ;" sA, Omi mb^ 
nisaSe Hie, "There is water beneath the earth." Wa a 
nisaHe, " Dig it below." 

Niux^u, " beyond," applied to distance ; as, JVmegu 
iUe' Ayabba, " Beyond the house of the Queen." Nivx^u 
wa, " Beyond us." 

Si," to," "at," "against;" as, Ma safojudi siagbalagha, 
" Do not be saucy to elderly persons." 

Sbo, " in," " among;" as, Bo dm won, " Drop in among 

Ti, " of," " from ;" as, Awa ti Sierra Leone Ig si Niger, 
" We went from Sierra Leone to the Niger." 



Ati, " and," " both ;" as, Ati emi ati iwo a' do, " Both I 
and thou (we) will go."* 

Bi, "if;" as, Bi awa bd de, enyin do, " If we return, 
you will go." 

Latori, nitori, ntori, " that," " because," " wherefore," 
" therefore ;" as, Nitori mi To se, " It is on my account," 
or " because of me." 

N;e, " then ;" as, JV/e bi behe ni, o to, " Then if it be so, it 

• Or, Emi re a' olo, " You, (and) I (we) will go." 

I),. u-.vvA)OJ^Ic 


is right. Nje hi a' ma Ig, " Then we may go," 

On, " and ;" an, Jesus mu Peter on James atiJphn re iUe 

Jmrus, ** Jesus took Peter and James and John to the 

house of Jainis." 

IS, "since;" as, Nigbatio ti wifu mi, mo fi i si iUe, 

" I have left it off, since he told me." 


Adi, " notwithstanding," " although j" as; Adi ghogho e^i 
ti a nwi, eyi tiyi ose mbe mm V^, " Notwithstanding all 
that has been s^d (or saying), what he will do is in his 

AmppS, "though," "although," "notwithstanding." 

Bi, " as ;" as, Se hi ema nti me, " Do as men do, i. e. not 

Bikosehi, ^' unless ;" as, BUcosebi ^o rb irughin ko le hil, 
"Unless rain comes, seeds cannot grow." 

Ki, Beheni, "neither," " nor ;" as, Ki ise emi, beheni ki 
iwg, "Neither was it I nor thou." 

Sigbon, "but," "yet;" as, Sigbon Jesus pe won sigddhre, 
wifu won, " But Jesus calling them to him {lit. near to 
him), s^d to them." 

TabU, " or ;" as, JB^i ni tabbi two, " Is it I or thou V 


An Interjection is expressive of some passion or emo- 
tion of the mind ; as of Grief ; Ye! At O ! — Surprise ; A ! 
— Admiration \Pd} Nn ! — Contempt ; Sip! Hun! S(aco ! 

Under this part of speech may be included Ddke ! 
Sim ! " Silence !" and the word Atdto ! employed to draw 
attention to proclamations. See Voctdmlary. 


( 36 ) 


Eni one. 

^'i two. 

Etta three . 

Erin four. 

Arun five. 

Efa six. 

J^'e seven. 

EJp eight. 

Essan nine. 

Ewa ten. 

Ohanta eleven. 

^ila twelve. 

Ettala thirteen. 

Erhda fourteen. 

Edogun fifteen. 

Erindilogun . . sixteen. 

Ettadilogun . . . seventeen. 
j^idUogun .... eighteen. 
OkandUogun . . . nineteen. 

Ogun twenty. 

OkarUelogun . . . twenty-one. 
EjUelogun .... twenty-two. 
Ettakhgun .... twenty-three. 
Erinlelogun .... twenty-four. 

Edgghm twenty-five. 

OgboH thirty. 

Arundilogoji . . . thirty-five. 

0}i forty. 

AdptUi fifty.* 

• Cowries are the uaual circulating medium on the West Coast of 
Africa. They are reckoned by Ihe bag — Okk^han ; the larger bundle — 
Eghi or Egbawa; the smaller bundle — Jgbiwo ov Jgbio ; and the 





Adgssan . 
Ogossan . . 

Igba . . . 

sixty. , 




one hundred. 

one hundred and ten. 

one hundred and twenty. 

one hundred and thirty. 

one hundred and forty. 

one hundred and fifty. 

one hundred and sixty. 

one hunured and seventy. 

one hundred and eighty. 

one hundred and ninety — two hun- 
dred less ten. 

two hundred. Tft« round num- 

ber, h^ which reckonings are gene- 
ral^ faai£e, as by one hundred in 

two hundred cowries, making the 
smaller bundle of strung cowries. 

three hundred. 

four hundred. 

five hundred. 

six hundred. 

seven hundred. 

eight hundred. 

nine hundred. 

one thousand. 

eleven hundred. 

twelve hundred. 

string, either of fifty — Adotta, or of forty— Qjo. This might be thus 
expressed in a table — 

5 strings of 40 cowries = 1 smaller bundle of 200. 
4 . . . 50 . . = 1 ditto. 
10 sQiaUer bundles . = 1 larger bundle of 2000. 
10 larger . . • . . = 1 bag of 20,000. 

"■■ -.—Ogle 

TgUwo, Ighio, con-i 
tracted for Igba owo} 
trinwo . 
Egbetia . 

Egberin . 
Egberun . 
Egbeffa . 


$degbge. . 

. . thirteen huadred. 

. . . fourteen hundred. 

. . fifteen hundred. 

k^L»» : 

. . sixteen hundred. 

. . seventeen hundred. 

Edegla, or £de 

. . eighteen hundred. 
gbawa, nineteen hiindred. 

EgU, or Eghm 

w . . two thousand. The larger bun- 

dle of cowries. 

EgUdogun . 

. . three thousand. 

Eghaji . . 

. . four thousand. 

Edeghatta . 

. . five thousand. 

jSghatta . . 

. . six thousand. 

Etkgharin . 

. . seven thousand. 

Egharin . . 

. . eight thousand. 

Edegharun . 

. . nine thousand. 

Egbanm . . 

. . ten thousand. 

Mdegbafa . 

. . eleven thousand. 

Egtaffa . . 

. . twelve thousand. 

Edegbqje . 

. . thirteen thousand. 

Egixije . . 

. . fourteen thousand. 


■ . fifteen thousand. 

Egbajp'. . 

. . sixteen thousand. 

Edeghassan . 

. . seventeen thousand. 

Eghassan . 

. . eighteen thousand. 

Edegbawa . 

. . nineteen thousand. 

Eghawa . . 

. . twenty thousand, or 

Okkekan . 

. , one bag — of cowries, containing 

ten larger bundles of two thou- 

sand cowries each. By the 

number of bags higher numbers 

are reckoned ; as, 


. . two bags — ^forty thousand. 

Okkemetta . 

. . three bf^ — sixty thousand. 

Okkemerin . 

. . four bags — eighty thousand. 

OkkeTnarun . 

. . five bags — one hundred thousand, 

&c. &c. ■;.. 


As the Natives have much to do with reckoning they 
very early hegin to teach their children to count. This 
is effected simply by frequent exercise in counting cowries 
or stones: and it is astonishing how veiy soon little 
boys and girls can reckon a large number of cowries. 
They first he^n by counting one by one : when tliey can 
do that with readiness, they begin by twos, and then by 
fives. A person cannot be more insulted for his stupidity 
in arithmetic, than- by telling him, " O rfo/w danu g o' mb 
essan messan" " With all your cleverness and sagacity, 
you do not know nine times nine." 


Ekinni the first. 

Ek^i the second. 

E-keUa the third. 

Ekerin the fourth. 

Ekarun the fifth. 

Ekeffa the sixth. 

Ekefe the seventh. 

Ekejp the eighth. 

Ekessan the ninth. 

Ekewa the tenth. 

Ehokanla . . . .the eleventh. 

Ek'^Ha the twelfth. 

Ekettala the thirteeth.' 

Ekerinla the fourteenth. 

Ekedpgun .... the fifteenth. 
Ekerindilogun . . .the sixteenth. 
Ekettadilogun . . .the seventeenth. 
Ekgidiiogun . . .the eighteenth. 
EkpkandUogun . . . the nineteenth. 

Ogun the twentieth. 

Ekpkanlelogun . , .the twenty-first. 
Ekejilehgun .... the twenty-second. 
Eketaleloffun . . . the twenty-third. 
Ekerinlelogun ... the twenty-fourth. 



Ekedogbm .... the twenty-fifth. 

Ogbpn the thirtieth. 

EkarindUog^i . . .the thirty-fifth. 
Q?i the fortieth. 



Okan one. 

Meji . 

. two. 


. three. 


. four. 
. five. 


. six. 

M^e . 

. seven. 

Mejo . 

. eight. 


. nine. 


. ten. 


. eleven. 


. twelve. 


. thirteen. 


. fourteen. 


. fifteen. 


. sixteen. 


. seventeen. 

MfjidHognn . 

. eighteen. " 


. nineteen. 

O^n . . . 

. twenty. 


. twenty-one. 

M^Uelogun . 

. twenty-two. 


. twenty-three. 


. twenty-four. 


. twenty-five. 

Ogbon . . 

. thirty. 

Afundaogqji, or . 
daogoji . - . 

^'*"| thirty-five. 

Qji. . 

. . forty. 


( 41 ) 


* Okan, or owo'kan 
^i, or owo meji 
Etta, or otoo metta. 
Erin . . 

EjidUogun . 
6U . . 
Edogho . 
Oqhohwo, or 

one cowry, or money, 
two cowries, or moneys, 
three cowries, or moneys. 



. eighteen — ■ 
. nineteen — - 
. twenty — • 
. twenty-one — - 
. twenty-two — - 
. twenty-three ■ 
. twenty-four 
. twenty-five — - 


. thirty-five — ■ 
. forty — - 

' The Tovrels which are circumflexed in this column most be pro- 
nonnced very long; as the words are contracted from owo and okan, 
instead of owo okan, contracted 6'kan, " one money." 





Okokan . 

. . one, one cowry, or money e 

Ej^i . . 

, . two, two cowries ormoneys- 

Etetta . . 

. . three, three — — 

Emin. . 

. . four, four — — 

. . five, five _ — - 

EMa. . 

. . ax, six — — 

Ejej^e . . 

. . seven, seven — — 

^?P ■ ■ 

. . eight, eight — — 

Esessan . 

, . nine, nine — — 

JEwewa . 

. . ten, ten — — • ■ 

bkokanla . 

. . eleven, eleven — — 

^ejila . 

, . twelve, twelve — 

Etettala . 

. . thirteen, thirteen — 

Ererinla . 

. , fourteen, fourteen — 

Eredo^n , 

. . fifteen, fifteen ~ 


. . sixteen, sixteen — 


. . seventeen, seventeen— 


. . . eighteen, eighteen — 


n . . nineteen, nineteen — 

Okoko . . 

. . . twenty, twenty — 


I . . twenty-one, twenty-one 


. . . twenty-two, twenty-two 


, . . twenty-three, twenty-three 

. . twenty-four, twenty-four 


. . . twenty-five, twenty-five 


. . . thirty, thirty — — 


. . thirty-five, thirty-five 

bg(aoji . 

. . . forty, forty — — 


Okokan . 

. . .one by one. 

Mejimeji . 

, . . two by two. 


. . . three by three. 


. . . four by four. 


. . .five by five. 



Mejamefa . . 

. six by six. 

MQemeje . . . 

. seven by seven. 

Mgom^p . . . 

. eight by eight. 

Messanmessan . 

. nine by nine. 

Mewamewa . . 

. ten by ten. 

MohaaJamokatda . 

. eleven by eleven. 

MejUam^ila . . 

. twelve by twelve. 

Mettalamettala . 

. thirteen by thirteen. 

Merinlamerirda . 

. fourteen by fourteen. 


. fifteen by fifteen. 

hgun . . . 

1 sixteen by sixteen. 

gun .... 

j seventeen by seventeen. 

un, eighteen by eighteen. 

logun . . . 

j nineteen by nineteen. 

Ogogun . . . 

. . twenty by twenty. 

logun . . . 

J twenty-one by twenty-one. 


n . twenty-two by twenty-two. 


^gun, twenty-three by twenty-three 

gun .... 

!■ twenty-four by twenty-four. 


. . twenty-five by twenty-five. 

Ogbogbon .' '. '. 

. . thirty by thirty. 

Ereiidihgoji . . 

. . thirty-five by thirty-five. 

Ogyqji .... 

. . forty by forty. 



.... once. 


.... twice. 


.... thrice. 


. . . . four times. 


. . . .five times. 


. . . .six times. 



Em^o . 
Emewa . 
Emqjila . 
Emettala . 

Ighogun . . 

Emedpgbpn . 
Ighpghpn . . 
Iglog<gi . . 

, seven times. 
. eight times. 
. nine times. 
. ten times. 
. eleven times. 
. twelve times. 
. thirteen times, 
. fourteen times. 
. fifteen times. 
. sixteen times. 
. seventeen times. 
. eighteen times. 
. nineteen times. 
. twenty times. 
. twenty-one times. 
. twenty-two times. 
. twenty-three times. 
. twenty-four times. 
. twenty-five times. 
. thirty times. 
. thirty-five times, 
. forty times. 


Lekan . 


. once. 
. twice. 
. thrice. 
. four times. 
, five times. 

Lekeji . 

. first. 
. secondly. 
. thirdly. 
. fourthly. 
. fifthly. 




The examination of the Yoniba Vocabulary has led me 
to the following conclusions, which I think will be found 
to be substantially correct. 

I. All Yoruba roots are monosyllabic, each consisting 
of a consonant, enunciated by the help of a vowel, with 
its appropriate intonation, sometimes closing with a 
nasal sound ; as, bd, be, be, M, dhn,fi,fe, gha, ghe, mo, ni, 
'?> '^> y^i y?f i'*'*- 

II. All Yoruba roots are verbs, as are the disyllabic 
roots of the Semitic languages ; thus, 6a, " to meet ;" be, 
" to leap ;" he, " to beg ;" di, " to tie ;" rfdn, " to be 
panful ;" fiy " to give ;" /e, " to love ;" gba, " to take ;" 
gbe, " to be ;" mo, " to know ;" ni, " to have ;" to, " to 
touch ;" td, " to follow ;" ye, " to understand ;" ye, " to fit ;" 
yin, " to praise." 

III. From these verbal roots, nouns-substantive are 
formed by prefixing a vowel sound. I believe this rule 
will be found to be almost, if not quite, universal. ; It is 
true that the root appears to be very frequently obso- 
lete, and in other cases (also very numerous) the meaning 
of the root cannot be traced to have any clear connection 
with that of the noun. Still, the exact identity of form in 
all nouns-substantive (with very few exceptions) — the 
variation of the initial vowel which is sometimes met 
with in the same word — and the very general tendency 
which the initial vowel exhibits to assume the same, or 
a cognate sound, with the following vowel — ^all go to 
prove that this initial vowel is merely servile, a forma- 
tive addition to the monosyllabic root. 

1. It is impossible to examine the Vocabulary, even 
cursorily, without being struck by the fact, that every 

I),. ..■v,Ot)J^lc 

word beginning with a vowel is a noun-substantive, the 
remainder of the word — if that vowel were struck ofT — 
exhibiting either a single monosyllabic root, or a longer 
compound capable of being resolved into two or more 
monosyllabic roots. Thus, in looking down the list of 
words beginning with e, we find e-ba, "a vessel, of oint- 
ment ;" e-be, " a heap of earth ;" e-bi, "vomit ;" e-bo, " the 
act of binding ;" e-bo-lo, " a herb used as a vegetable ;" 
e-buy " abuse ;" e-bu-te, " a landing-place ;" e-de, " lan- 
guage ;" e-di, " reason ;" e-di-di, " a stopper ;" &c. &c. 
The monosyllable thus educed is in so many cases not 
only significant, but closely connected with the meaning 
of the noun, as to give reasonable ground to consider, 
that in other cases also, where the monosyllable is not 
now ' in use as a distinct word, it bad once a separate 
existence, and was, in fact, the basis on which the existing 
noun was formed. 

2. The occurrence of such variations in the initial 
vowel as we meet with in the words e-n, o-ri, both sig- 
nifying " head ;" and e-ko, o-ko, o-ru-koy all denoting 
"name ;" is a strong argument in favour of the idea that 
the monosyllable which remains unchanged is the radix 
of the word, and that the initial is only formative. 

3. There is a remarkable tendency observable to assi- 
milate as much as possible the sounds of the initial and 
following vowels to each other ; and as we have seen in 
the instances just brought forward that the initial vowel 
is the variable, so I believe we may conclude that the 
assimilating influence of which we are now speaking is 
exerted by the second upon the first, and not by the first 
upon the second. There are several vowel-prefixes, 
which denote particular classes of nouns, (as I have en- 
deavoured to explain in the Introductory Remarks,) and 
these are of course unaffected by the vowel in the root. 
But where the relation between the root and the deriva- 
tive dges not come under any of those particular classes — 

where the noun is not either abstract or instrumental, or 
a noun of agency, &e., but simply having some con- 
nection in meaning with the root — we may very frequently 
(though I do not say universally) notice this assimilating 
influence, viz, that the latter vowel affects the former so 
as to make it either identical in sound or of the same 
quantity. Such words as ese, " dye," and ese, " sin," when 
compared together (and cases like this are continually 
occurring) are enough to prove the existence of the in- 
fluence we are describing. The radical vowel in se, " to 
dye," acts upon the formative vowel of the derivative 
noun ; and the radical vowel in se, " to sin," upon the 
formative vowel of its derivative, making it, in the one 
case e, and in the other e. Other instances are e-bp, " the 
act of binding," as compared with e-bp, " sacrifice," where 
the radical vowel in either case influences the gtiantity 
of the formative ; <hko, " a farm," and p-kb, " a ship ;" 
o-ro, " a custom," and o-to, " a word ; o-wo, " money," 
and p-wp " a hand ;" o^'p, "rain," and p-jp, "a day;" 
&c. &c. We had occasion to notice this tendency as 
being most systematically exhibited in the formation of 
those nouns to which we gave the name of Nouns of 
Possession ; and as intimately connected with the vocalic 
euphony system observable in the concord of the verb 
and pronoun. It would seem, however, to have a much 
wider influence on the formation of the langu^e than 
was at first supposed ; so much so, that I think we shall 
not be mistaken in inferring that it exhibits the original 
method of expansion of the verbal root into a substantive 
form, which was subsequently modified by the increasing 
necessity ofparticular and distinctive modes of formation. 
Thus I conceive that from the root se, " to sin," the 
original derivative noun, expressing the idea of the verb, 
formed according to the genius of the language, would 
be ese, " sin ;" but when this noun was found imequal to 
express all the substantive ideas in connection with this 


root, the original formative prefix was variously altered, 
in conformity to the rules given in the Introductory Re- 
marks, to denote the particular ideas which it was neces- 
sary to express ; as, ise, " the act of sinning ;" cse, " a 
state of sin." I am of opinion, also, that it is highly pro- 
bable there was originally a distinction of pronunciation 
even in the prefixes a and ^, so as to correspond in quan- 
tity to the root-vowel. We have, to say the least, an ar- 
gument in favour of this idea in the double consonants 
occasionally employed after those prefixes in the old or- 
thography ; as, ahheh, " a razor ;" affeh, " pleasure ;" iddeh, 
" brass ;" illeh, " earth ;" illuh, " a town ;" though at the 
same time I confess that these double consonants are 
found also . where the root-vowel, according to my 
hypothesis, would render them unnecessary ; as, (Abo, 
"female;" »7te, "abouse;" i^w, " a stroke ;" and are often 
missing where the root-vowel, according to that hypo- 
thesis, would require them; as,a^'eA," a sorcerer ;" amok, 
"white clay ;" ifeh, "love ;" ikohn, " a squirrel." 

I subjoin a list of monosyllabic roots, with nouns appa- 
rently derived from them, though I do not pretend to 
show the connection, in many cases, between the meaning 
of the root and that of the noun. With regard to this I 
would only observe, that original meanings may have be- 
come obsolete," or have gradually given way to others, so 
as to render the connection very remote, and, in some in- 
stances, quite undiscernible. 

Sd, To meet. 

B^, To beg. 

Bl, To push. 

Bi, To bear. 

Bpf To worship. 

Bu, To abuse. 

Da, To create. 

De, To come to. 

IH, To become. 

£:bba, The edge. 

Ebbe, A begging. 

Ebi, Wrong — Ibi, Evil. 

Ebi, Hunger — Ibi, Birth. 

Ebp, Sacrifice. 

Elm, Abuse. 

JEidd, idd, Nature. 

Ede, Language. 

Edif idi. Reason, cause. 



Ja, To quarrel. 


Adog— i;o,War. 

Je, To be, to eat. 



Jo, To dance. 


A serpent, Qjp, Rain, 
^0, A dance. 

Ju, To throw. 


The eye (Hence come 
sa/M, To go before, 
nwt^u. Before, t^, 
To blush, loju, To 
see after.) 

Mi, To swallow. 



Ml, To breathe. 

Emmi, Breath. 

Mm, To take. 



m. To see. 


A witness — /m. Dew, 

m. To be. 

Eri, on. The head. 

iJin, To sing. 


A song. 

Uu, To sprout. 


A slave. 

ifw. To carry. 


A load. 

Se, To sin. 


Sin — /*e,Actofsinning. 

'Sm, To run. 


A horse. 

■n, Topush.fasten. 


The ear. 

I believe that the above examples are illiistrative of 
the original mode of formation which characterizes the 
language ; and they afford a striking exhibition of that 
remarkable peculiarity, which we have named the vocalic 
euphony system, and which is regulated by the principle, 
that syllables standing in close connection or relation- 
ship to one another must be of the same quantity. No 
doubt it was the easy and harmonious 6ow of sounds 
thus adapted to each other which fixed the principle. 

I do not think that the existence of substantives be- 
ginning with a consonant is any valid argument against 
the position which I have just been proving. It is true 
that such substantives do exist ; but I believe their pre- 
sence may be satisfactorily accounted for, so as not to in- 
terfere with the above-described mode of formation. /« 



the first place, some few are foreign words, imperted from 
otber languages, as, for instance, the English word bans, 
" banns of marriage ;" the Arabic tuba, " repentance ;" 
and the Haussa words sinkafa, "rice ;" and tdkarda, "a 
book." In the next place, some are the mere repetition 
of the verbal root ; as, pejjapejja, "a fisherman ;" kmrin- 
konrm, " a singer ;" with regard to which it ought to be 
noticed that there exists at the same time the regiJarly- 
formed substantive from the same roots, apejja, dkonrin ; 
a circumstance which induces me to think that the repe- 
titions of the roots are of more recent date, and nothing 
more than vulgar corruptions. Thirdly, the substantives 
formed by the reduplicate syllable, such as giga, 
" height ;" Hie, " hardness ;" are rather corroborative 
than otherwise of the system for which I am contending ; 
for they are only secondary formations, superadded to 
the original regularly-formed substantives, and probably 
adjectival in their character, as it is distinctly stated that 
they are used as adjectives, and that the context only 
can determine what is their real character in any given 

Having disposed of these three classes of consonantal 
substantives, I am persuaded that those which remain are 
to be regarded as nothing else but abbreviations of sub- 
stantives originally formed by the prefixed vowel-sound. 
And in proof of this view of the matter, I would point 
first to instances where both forms are still in use ; as, 
h&fin, or ^dfin, " eunuchs ;" halogun, or ibalogun, " a 
war-chief;" haluwe, or ihaluwe, "awash-house." And 
secondly, to cases where the derivation clearly proves 
that the initial vowel is omitted only for the sake of 
brevity ; as, balle, from ohha ille, " a householder ;" hAa, 
" an ambassador ;" hudo, "a camp;" buje, "a manger;" 
bt^oko, " a dwelling ;" buso, " a stall ;" busp, " an inn ;" 
busvn, "a bed;" all derived a place from iht, " a place," 
compounded' with the several nouns, ifia, ido, ye, ijoko. 



IV. With regardtootherpartsofspeech, adjectives are 
either the simple verbal root, in some cases retaining the 
verbal idea as well as the adjectival ; as, "go, "high;" 
gun, "long;" which are also verbs: or they are elonga- 
tions of this root, formed immediately from the verb by 
reduplication, as, ke-kere, " small ;" ku-kuru, " short;" or 
through the substantive, as already noticed, by redupli- 
cation of the radical consonant. 

V. Adverbs are also formed by mere reduplication ; as, 
rersy daradara, Jiojio, roro, maranmaran. Such are the 
strict adverbial forms of the langu^e. There are many 
other words, however, which, in our European tongues 
are classed amongst adverbs, but which in the Yoruba are 
nothing more than nouns governed by prepositions : such 
are loni, (S oni), " to-day ;" lanna, (li anna), " yester- 
day ;" loUa, {Holla), "to-morrow;" ni-gha-ghogho, "at 
all times ;" hto (li oto), " truly ;" hddoddu (li oddo oddu), 
" yearly ;" ni-si^u, " before ;" &c. &c. 

VL As totheprepositionsjl believe they mayall besatis- 
factorily resolved in to a very small number of monosyllabic 
verbal roots ; as, bd, " to meet ;" de, " to reach ;" _/?, " to 
make ;"_/«, " to give ;" ni, (which, before a, e, o, becomes 
/*) " to have ;" si, not now used as a verb, but which, if 
we may judge by analogy, was originally such, and tit 
which is in common use as an auxiliary of the past tense, 
. but doubtless once possessed a more substantial meaning. 
This is quite in accordance with the general phenomenon 
of language; it being a universal law that the particles 
are degenerated roots, sometimes standing alone, and 
sometimes in composition. 

The particle ti, just mentioned, is a remarkable one, 
on account of the variety of the functions which are as- 
signed to it. I would call it the relative participle. It 
not only performs the part of the relative, when that - 
relative has a substantive character, and represents a 
noun, but also gives the relative idea to such expressions 
as " when," "in order that," &c. And in addition to this. 

it forms the grammatical sign of the genitive or relative 
case, thus corresponding very closely to the Rabbinical 
prefix X6 the representative of the relative pronouQ l^N, 

VII, I ought not to pass over here a peculiarity of con- 
struction which exercises an influence on the formation 
of a large class of Yoruba words. I allude to the use of 
double verbs, an account of which is given by Mr. Crow- 
ther under the title of Compound Active Transitive. I 
suppose this title to denote that the verb h^ two objects, 
one on which it acts directly in its active capacity, and 
the other to which it passes on its effect in its transitive 
capacity : but though this may sometimes be the case 
with such verbs, it is by no means universally so. The 
proximate object, however, is always placed between 
these two verbs in construction, thus separating them 
entirely. But when a noun is to be formed from them, 
the two verbal roots are brought together, so as to form 
one word, not by composition, strictly so called, but by 
what CSievalier Bunsen has styled conglomeration or 
agglutination ; in fact, by the mere juxta-position of the 
two, after which the noun is formed by the usual prefix, 
as the case may be. As an example, I may adduce the 
two verbal roots pa, mp, which, when used as a double 
verb, signify "to keep." The sentence, "Thou keepest 
us," would be rendered iwp pa wa mo, but the derived 
noun "preservation" is ipamp. Many nouns may be re- 
volved into monosyllabic roots by attending to this rule. 

The above considerations seem to me suflBcient to esta- 
blish the monosyllabic character of the roots of this lan- 
guage, and also to account for the principal phenomena 
observable in its formative processes. 

O.E. V.