A Niger-Congo language and a member of the Kwa family of languages (sometimes also assigned to the Benue-Congo family), spoken by c. 17 million people mainly in south-west Nigeria, where it has official status, with some further speakers in Benin and Togo.
Standard Yoruba is a blend of two closely similar dialects, Oyo and Lagos, although there is a variety of other dialects spread over. It was one of the earliest West African languages to be codified in the 19th century. From the 1920s on an extensive written literature has been produced in Yoruba. There is also a large oral literature of poetry, myths, and proverbs. The language is spelt in the Roman alphabet.
Tone in Yoruba is of cardinal phonemic importance. There are three contrastive tones - high, mid and low.
CLASSIFICATION = Niger-Congo family, SCRIPT = Roman