Vigesimal Numerals on Ifẹ̀ (Togo) and Ifẹ̀ (Nigeria) / Dialects of Yorùbá

  • Felix Abídèmí Fábùnmi


This study intends to bring Ifẹ̀ (Togo) into a linguistic limelight using the numeral systems. Numerals are a very important aspect of the day to day socio-economic and linguistic life of Ifẹ̀ (Togo) people. The traditional Ifẹ̀ (Togo) number system is vigesimal. In this study, forty-two different number words are listed for Yorùbá Ifẹ̀ (Nigeria) and Yorùbá Ifẹ̀ (Togo) and compared with Standard Yorùbá. We compared the Ifẹ̀ (Togo) number words and counting patterns with that of the Standard Yorùbá and Ifẹ̀ (Nigeria) and discovered that, by the nature of the components of these numbers, majority of the basic number words are either bisyllabic or trisyllabic, each syllable having the form VCV for the cardinals, and CVCV for the ordinals. There are irregularities in tonality; there are also alternations in the sequences of the vowel (oral and nasalized) and consonant sounds. This work finds out that Ifẹ̀ (Togo) has two counting patterns. In the first pattern, it uses addition solely to derive the number words but with a counting pattern where 'ten', 'twenty' and the added number units are taken as a whole. In the second counting pattern, subtraction is used to derive number words but this is applicable only to three numbers i. e. seventeen – /mɛ́ɛtadínóɡú/, eighteen – /méèʤìdínóɡu/ and nineteen – /mɔ̀kɔ̃dínóɡu/. The Ifẹ̀ (Togo) dialect of Yorùbá mostly uses additive number positions. The dialect favours additive number positions more than the subtractive and the multiplicative positions. In other words, higher numbers are frequently used as bases for addition not as bases for multiplication in Ifẹ̀ (Togo). There are many linguistic variations in the number words employed by Ifẹ̀ (Togo) and Ifẹ̀ (Nigeria) dialects of Yorùbá, such variations can be attributed to changes in time and distance.
Fábùnmi, F. A. (2010). Vigesimal Numerals on Ifẹ̀ (Togo) and Ifẹ̀ (Nigeria) / Dialects of Yorùbá. Linguistik Online, 43(3).