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Yoruba belongs to the Yoruba Group of Kwa. (Webbook)
Ethnologue lists the classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Defoid, Yoruboid, Edekiri. The closely related Ede language cluster has the same classification.
It is spoken in the southwestern part of Nigeria (Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, and parts of Kwara and Kogi states). It is one of the important local languages in Benin, and it is also spoken in enclaves in Togo. (Webbook). The Yourba language and other cultural elements also feature prominently in the Lucumi and Santeria religious practices in Cuba and Brazil.
A map showing areas with Yoruba speakers is available at http://www.molli.org.uk/yoruba/1_about_yoruba/maps.htm
A variant known as Itsekiri is spoken in Warri in the Niger delta of Nigerian and closely related Ede languages (including Nago, Ife) are spoken into Benin and Togo.
According to Ethnologue:
Some estimates of speakers range much higher.
Speakers of the Ede languages total several hundred thousand.
Herault (1981) states there are 17 dialects of Yoruba. Various respondents consider Oyo-Ibadan Yoruba to be the literary standard. (Webbook)
According to Ethnologue:
The Ede language cluster, including Ife/Ana, is closely related.
Yoruba is one of the major languages of Nigeria, dominant in the southwest, and is a national language.
Taught in primary and secondary schools. (Ethnologue)
Literacy rate (according to Ethnologue):
There is an association of authors writing in Yoruba called Egbe Onkowe Yoruba (Yoruba Writers Association)
Oyo-Ibadan Yoruba is generally taken to be the literary standard, thus representing a standardized orthography. (Webbook)
The orthography, established in the mid-19th century, is Latin-based, with three additional characters with diacritics underneath (either a dot or a small vertical line), and accents for tone marks above vowels (indications of tone are especially important in this language). More information is available at http://www.learnyoruba.com/ORTHOGRAPHY_1.pdf
The choice of dot or small vertical line under is apparently one of style. Current usage tends to have the dot. On the "Yoruba language & ICT" forum http://www.quicktopic.com/15/H/KKgbRqJUAR8 , there was agreement to call the use of the vertical line "classic(al)" and the subdot "standard."
There is also an orthography in the Arabic script, "anjemi" (Ajami), primarily used by Muslim Yorubaphones (Ogunbiyi).
According to several sources, the alphabet (including one digraph) is:
a b d e ẹ f g gb h i j k l m n o ọ p r ṣ t u w y
Tones are marked as follows:
Hartell's (1993) data on Yoruba is available as:
A sample text is shown on the "Language Museum" site: http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/yor.htm (NB- the diacritic used under certain characters is not a standard form)
Unicode fonts. Most Unicode fonts will have the necessary dot-under characters (which are in the "Latin Extended Additional" range) and combining diacritics. A good list of Unicode fonts is available at http://www.alanwood.net/unicode/fonts.html :
"8-bit" fonts. Several different ones with non-intercompatible encodings (not recommended for web content or document sharing) including:
Universal Declaraton of Human Rights in Yoruba: http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/yor.htm (NB- the diacritic used under certain characters is not a standard form)
Locale for OpenOffice was written for Yoruba of Nigeria (yo_NG) in early 2006, and submitted also to CLDR.
The Motherland Nigeria site has some items on Yoruba: http://www.motherlandnigeria.com/languages.html
There is a text-to-speech (TTS) program for Yoruba developed by Odetunji Odejobi (Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
The "Yoruba language & ICT" board has discussion and information on fonts, keyboards & applications - http://www.quicktopic.com/15/H/KKgbRqJUAR8
"Yoruba Accent Codes" (TLT, Penn State Univ.) http://tlt.its.psu.edu/suggestions/international/bylanguage/yoruba.html
Latin & diacritic character picker http://people.w3.org/rishida/scripts/pickers/latin/
Normalization permits composition with precomposed dot-under characters and combining diacritics for tones, or precomposed accented characters with combining diacritic dot-under.
There is significant interest in keyboard layouts for Yoruba and for the ensemble of Nigerian languages. Here too, there would seem to be a need for some standard.
Ogunbiyi, Isaac Adejoju. "The Search for a Yoruba Orthography Since the 1840s: Obstacles to the Choice of the Arabic Script." http://www.smi.uib.no/sa/14/14Ogunbiyi.pdf
Omniglot, "Yorùbá," http://www.omniglot.com/writing/yoruba.htm
SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Language Family Trees: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Defoid, Yoruboid, Edekiri," http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90732
______, "Yoruba," http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=yor
SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables," http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp
U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language," http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/English_list.php
Wikipedia, "Yoruba language," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoruba_language