A comparative study of Ika, Igbo and Edo

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This work is a comparative study of Ika, Igbo and Edo. The central focus of this research is on Ika. The objective of this is to establish the linguistic relationship Ika shares with Igbo, as well as the linguistic relationship, Ika shares with Edo. When this was established, the linguistic status of Ika, which has for long been in controversy, was re-established via linguistic evidence. All these was achieved by carrying out a mutual intelligibility test on these languages, through the Lexicostatistics theoretical framework put forth by swadesh, M. (1955). In this regard, the focus of this research was on the lexica items of these languages.
The relevance of this research is to clear the controversies surrounding the linguistic status of Ika, based on scientific results.

This research is a comparative study of Igbo, Edo and Ika, with the view of finding out the linguistic links of Igbo and Edo with Ika. Ika is a language that seems to be highly influenced by Igbo and Edo language. As a result of the overwhelming presence of the language units of Igbo and Edo that seems to be present in Ika, this research is set out to capture the degree of linguistic relationship that exists between these three speech forms. We will therefore examine the semantic and syntactic similarities across Ika, Igbo and Edo language. The grammatical units which would be utilized for this research are lexical items in these three languages. The significant role of tones will not be left out, since records show that these languages are tone languages (Pike 1984, Ofomata G.E.K 2002).
Historical Background
1.2.1 Ika – Origin and Geographical Location
Echenim (2001) reveals that the linguistic expression “Ika” originated from the phrase ‘ali’ hun ka nin, which means the greater territory’. Ika ethnic nationality has complex network of origins. However, there are two major sources of origin. The geo-political entity called Ika represents two predominant dialectal ethnicities which are; the Agbors and the Owas. Majority of the clans like Agbor, Abavp, Akumazi, Mbiri, Otolokpo and Umunede claim outright Edo Origin. While Owa and Ute-Okpu claim Edo Presence in the founding of some quarters and villages.
Ika is a compound of two domineering language groups, namely Edo Igbo. These two groups.
Belong to a large language family called the Kwa sub-family of the Nier-Congo. Ika is characterized by conscious and unconscious borrowings, facilitated by contacts with neigh boring language groups. Edo titles and corresponding functions are replicated among the Ikas. Example of such titles are; Enogie, Iyase, Oliha and so on. There is also a correspondence of names of individuals like Osaigbovo, Osahonerumwen, Ehiagator, Nosakhare, etc. The Edo influence is also found in the area of dynasty structure and founding names of quarters. Although, the Igbo origin may or may not have preceded the Ika-Edo factors, the Nri dynasty is said to have played an important role in the founding of some Ika clans.
Ika is spoken by people in Ika North East and Ika South Local Government Areas of Delta State, and Igbanke in Orhionwon Local Government Area of Edo State. The Igbanke village was said to have been founded by Ika farmers who migrated north and in some cases cohabited with Ishan Speakers (Isichei 1976). IKa is spoken by about 350,000 [people (estimated based on the 1996 census).
The Ika territory shares boundary on the West with Orhionmwon Local Government area of Edo State, on the East with Aniocha South Local Government Are of Delta State, on the North with Esan South East Local Government Area of Delta State. Ika is situated in the rainforest Zone, lying between 6.150N and longitude 6.120E. The Ikas are predominantly farmers and they consists of eleven clans. These are; Abavo, Agbor, Akumazi, Ideumuesah, Igbodo, Mbiri, Otolokpo, Owa, Umunede, Ute – Ogbeje andUte-Okpu.
1.2.2 Igbo-Origin and Geographical Location
Igbo language has been classified under the Kwa group of languages by the linguistic scholar; Joseph Greenberg (1970) in his classification of the language f Africa. The Igbo’s had no writing system, and as such failed to put into concrete records, their history and traditions. All that is available in a few different Igbo communities are oral traditions and some of these are at times unreliable due to their different versions.
One of such versions if the ‘ERI MIGRATION”. This version happens to hold among a large section of Igbo traditionalists. It states that, a man called ‘Eri’ migrated from among the stock of Israel in Egypt. He journeyed south of the Sahara till he came to Igala area and finally settles in the place today known as ‘Nri’ or ‘Nnri’. Nnri is no doubt today regarded as the traditional setting of the Igbo people.
Another version is the red sea dispersal, which states that while the children of Israel were at the bank of the red sea (Exedos 14), some Israelites scattered into different directions out of fear, because the Egyptians pursued after them, and that some of the group that scattered wandered south of the Sahara until they got to this region of the their present habitation.
Some other accounts, probably in an attempt to debunk the claims stated above, yet not wanting to be part of those saying “the Igbos are without history” one of which is professor Edonund Ilogu, who stated in his work “Christianity in West Africa”, that ht Igbo’s came from an area known as “Idda” in the middle belt of Nigeria within the Niger – Benue confluence, alongside the Yorubas, Edo, Ibibio and Igyala people, and that they settled at the present site of Akwa. His basis is that they share certain linguistic typological properties together.
The Igbos are found in their largest number in the south-eastern part of today’s Nigeria. They are dominant in seven states of the same geographical area; Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Delta and River states. They share boundaries with the Ibibio people on the east, Ijaw to the south-west and the Idoma in the direction of Northern Nigeria. In Nigeria, this ethnic group is known to be the third most important after the Yoruba’s and Hausa’s with a population of about fifteen million people (grimes 1996). Their primary occupation is farming and trading.

1.2.3 Edo Origin and Geographical Location
There are about three stories regarding the origin of the Edo people that speak the Edo language. The first one is that they originated from Ife. This may be a version of the story that linked the present dynasty with Ife (Nzemeke and Erhagbe 2002:16). Another version according to Egharevba (2005:1), is the belief that many years ago, the Binis migrated from Egypt to their present location. Another version according to Nzemeke A.R and Erhagbe E.O (2002:15), is the mythological version of the story of the origin of the Binis. This is known as the snail shell hypothesis. From this version, there is the belief that OSANOBA’ the almighty God, has seven sons which be decided to send to the world. Before they left, he kept many gifts on the floor and asked each of them to choose what they would like to take to the world. Many of them chose wealth, fame honour etc. on the advice of a bird, the youngest son chose a snail shell. They all arrived in a world filled with water. On the advice of that same bird, the youngest son chose a snail shell. They all arrived in a world filled with water. On the advice of that same bird, the youngest on turned the snail shell upside down, and sand came out and filed large portions of water. Thus, he became the owner of the land and had to give part of it to his elder brothers. It was the younger son that founded Benin. This is the version that suggests that they have been in their present position right from their origin. And so, this is the source of the name the first rulers of Benin were called. This name is Ogoso’, meaning ‘sky kings’.
The Edo Speaking area shares boundary in the north and west Ondo state of Nigeria, in the south by the Urhobos of Warri, Ethiope and Ughelli local Government area, and to the Eastern side by Okpebhe, Ika and Ndokwa local Government Area of Delta State. The inhabitants have always referred to themselves as Ivbi Edo. The estimated area of the territory is about 10,372 square kilometers.
Edo language belongs to the Edoid group of languages (Elugbe 1979) which in turn belongs to the kwa sub-family of the Niger Congo.
1.2.4 Geographical and Historical Relationship Between Ika, Igbo and Edo.
As we have seen in the discussion on origins, there are two dominant sources of origin propose by the majority of Ika clans. These are the Edo/Benin and the Igbo. Ika shares boundary with Edo geographically, and as a matte of fact, some Ika speaking areas are located in Edo state, like the Iybanke and the Orhionwon local Government Area of Edo State. There is an Obvious and unquestionable evidence of Bini presence among the Ikas. These similarities manifest at three levels.
Common names
Linguistic structures.
Given that at a point in the general evolution of the Ika people, there was an important Bini presence which implied military and political ascendancy, it is possible to explain Bini influence on the nature of royalty and the composition of the traditional council. Thus, we discover exdusively Bini titles and corresponding functions being replicated among the Ika. These are for instance, Iyase, Olihe, Ozomor, Obaseki, Obasogie, Ojeba etc.
For common names, we also observe correspondence in the names of quarters; Ihogbe, Ogbisere, Ogan; and in the names of individuals; Adagbon, Osaigbovo, Isibor, Ibude, Obazuaye, etc. the relationship between their linguistic structures will be expantiated on alter in this work.
As seen earlier, studies on the origin of Ika also draws attention to the important role of the Nri dynasty in the founding of some clans. The influence of Igbo on Ika can also be seen in the area of commerce, where the Igbos are present in town and villages as traders and businessmen or with the Ikas travelling to Igbo towns and villages to transact business. For most Christians, the Igbo influence was quite substantial. The most Christians the Igbo influence was quite substantial. The texts for worship (Bible, prayer Books Hymn Books) were in Igbo, which seemed more accessible to the greater majority than English, even preachers, church workers, etc, were mostly Igbo speaking.
These three languages have been classified under the kwa sub-family of the Niger Congo (Greenberg J.H 1970). Although in a more recent work by Bennett and sterk (177), a major reclassification of the Niger – Congo was proposed mainly based on lexicostatistics and lexical innovations (Bernd Heine and Derek Nurse 2000), where this kwa languages were. Classified as west Benue – Congo languages, with Edo belonging to the Edoid languages Elugbe 1989), Ika and Igbo belonging to the Igboid languages (Gordon Raymond 2005).
1.3 Scope of Study
This work examines the similarities and differences across the lexical items of Ika, Igbo and Edo. The significant role of tones will not be left out since records show that these languages are tone languages (Pike. 1948).
This work falls under the branch of linguistics called comparative linguistics. This branch of linguistics, which was originally termed comparative philology, is a branch of historical linguistics concerned with comparing languages in order to establish their relatedness. A method of comparative linguistics shall be employed in this work.
1.4 Purpose of Study
The an of this work capture the degree of linguistic relationship that exists between Ika, Igbo and Edo language. The study will capture the obtainable differences and similarities of Igbo and Edo that are found in Ika language. This study will also help to affirm or refute claims about the linguistic status of Ika. This research is basically on the resemblance of lexical items of Ika, Igbo and Edo using the comparative analytical approach.
1.5 Method of Data Collection
In this work, two methods will be used in the collection of data. These are, the primary and secondary sources. The primary sources includes direct interview method where a word list of four hundred words from the lexicostatistical work-list will be collected from the native speakers of these languages. While the secondary soruce will include existing literatures on these languages such as books, projects and other academic materials.



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