It was sometime between 2001 and 2002, in my Senior Secondary School days, I was in a somewhat heated argument (well, not exactly – more like making a case) with my Yoruba teacher on why she was wrong and, I was right about the way an essay in the examination and subsequent questions on the essay were wrong.
The essay in question had a lot of the word “Igbe” which I automatically corrected in my head as “Igbo” based on the context in which they were used while I read through the passages and consciously corrected the same word on the question paper and in my sheets while answering the question.
After my ranting and self-elevated speech about my prowess in the Yoruba language second only to that of Oduduwa, my Yoruba teacher simply finished me with this statement “Shey o tii gbo ni pa eran Igbe ri? Ta ni o be e pe ki o so igbe di igbo nigba ti ohun dahun ibere na?”
She went on to give me zero in that particular question. Now here is the thing, I was right and so was she, the two words were appropriate in the context of the essay presented and questions asked, but the problem was the frequency and context of the use of one word in our daily spoken Yoruba viz-a-viz the other.
Another issue was the clear difference between spoken and written words, speaking a language is massively different from writing the same language and automatically affects reading a language, it might surprise you to know there are people in America who can speak English but cannot write in English but that is a story for another day.
The third issue probably has to do with the fact that the elders are always right in the Yoruba culture and she just had to shove that in my face lol.
You may wonder why all these epistle and reminiscing, I came across a project spearheaded by Kola Tubosun which will preserve the heritage of the Yoruba language albeit starting from Yoruba names and their meanings, the project is also poised to feature pronunciations of these names, stories behind the names and the oriki attached to the names.
It is quite a novel project and one which I am pretty excited about because it reminded me of the incident I narrated above which later made me one of the closest students to my Yoruba teacher in secondary school, it also points to the fact that Nigerians are not being left out of the digitalization currently ongoing.
I cannot wait for the websites to launch, my first wiki post will be about the joke I throw around when people ask for my name in an informal gathering, your everyday Temitope becomes “Temitopenitorioluwaloseyifunmi” and the next question that follows is “How did you write Jamb with such a long name?”
- My understanding of “Igbe” was sh*t, thus i translated it to “Igbo” which means “bush”
- “Shey o tii gbo ni pa eran Igbe ri? Ta ni o be e pe ki o so igbe di igbo nigba ti ohun dahun ibere na?” – “Haven’t you heard about Bush Meat before? Who told you to ‘igbe’ to ‘igbo’ when you were answering the question?”
Comments on “My Yoruba tale, Igbe is the same as Igbo”
Very interesting post. You must have believed that the "e" ending igbe is supposed to be "o", which make sense. But like you said, there's a fundamental difference between written and spoken language.