YIWOLA AWOYALE, Ph.D.
My main research programme is to prepare an electronic database for a modern dictionary of the Yoruba language, a Kwa language of the Niger-Congo family.
Hitherto, there have been numerous attempts to produce fragments of dictionaries of the language in Yoruba, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, as in the following: Vocabulary of the Yoruba Language (1843); Vocabulary and Grammar of the Yoruba Language (1848); Vocabulary and Grammar of the Yoruba Language (1852); A Dictionary of the Yoruba Language (1913); Dictionary of Modern Yoruba (1958); At¯mª ÓdŒ Yor°b€ (1958); Dictionary of Yoruba Monosyllabic Verbs (1966); Yoruba Metalanguage (1984); Yoruba Metalanguage (1990); Quadrilingual Glossary of Legislative Terms (English-Hausa-Igbo-Yoruba) (1992). None of these is either adequate or comprehensive, for the needs of the technological age; nor is there any in an electronic form. Because there is no electronic database, it has been extremely difficult to update the dictionaries, or even prepare dictionaries for various levels of needs. Yet the language is expanding very rapidly everyday.
Our attempt will combine two major sources. The first source will be to update all the existing sources and include all new words that have come into being up till the present moment, as far as existing records and scholarship can carry us. The second source is to incorporate our large collection of thousands of Yoruba ideophones that we have been collecting for over twenty years, but which we are only now able to log into the computer. Hopefully, the overall result will be not only the first electronic database for the language, but also the most up-to-date Yoruba dictionary.
The Yoruba language, one of the three major languages of Nigeria, is spoken by over 30 million people inside Nigeria; it is widely spoken in Benin Republic, and some parts of Togo. In the diaspora, it is widely used in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Trinidad, Jamaica, and several parts of South America.
I am on a two-year sabbatical leave from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria where I was Professor and Head of Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages for some years. I have participated very actively in the teaching and planning of the Yoruba language for many years, both at university and national levels.
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