Igbo Language (Presentation Notes)
THE ISUAMA IGBO STUDIES (1766-1900)
1766-1900 ==Isuama Igbo studies period. Isuama Igbo: type of dialect used in Igbo studies as a standard dialect by emancipated slaves of Igbo origin settled in Sierra Leone and Fernando Po (now part of Equatorial Guinea) in the 1800s (Oraka p. 20).
1789 == The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa The African (London, 1789), written by a former slave, mentioned 79 Igbo words (Oraka p. 21). A good modern edition: London: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1969 (2 vols.; ed. by Paul Edwards).
late 1700s-early 1800s == Igbo language study transferred from the West Indies and London to Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Fernando Po, because freed slaves were settled there, the larger number in Freetown (Oraka p. 65).
1828 == Mrs. Hannah Kilham, a Quaker mission teacher, published Specimens of African Languages Spoken in the Colony of Sierra-Leone. Included: Igbo numerals and some 50 Igbo nouns (Oraka p. 22).
1831 == Mrs. Kilham started a girls' school at Charlotte village, Sierra Leone. Formal education in vernacular languages is begun (Oraka p. 22).
1841 == Edwin Norris, Assistant Secretary, Royal Asiatic Society, compiled wordlists from West and Central African languages to use in Niger expeditions. He used Laird's 70 words and others from two unknown sources (a manuscript, and an Igbo living in London) (Oraka p. 22).
1843-48 == Morrick (missionary in Fernando Po) and John Clarke, Baptist missionary, together collected vocabularies of African languages. Clarke published them in 1848, including 250 words and a few numerals written in Igbo. 24 Igbo dialects were represented, including Aro, Bonny, Ndoli and Agbaja (Oraka p. 24).
1854 == S. W. Koelle, German missionary, published Polyglotta Africana, with a vocabulary gathered from liberated slaves in Sierra Leone. Contained some 300 Igbo words representing five dialects: Isoama, Isiele, Agbaja, Aro, Mbofia (Oraka p. 23).
1857 == Crowther produced the first book in Igbo, with Jonas's help. Isoama-Ibo Primer has 17 pages, with the Igbo alphabet, words, phrases, sentence patterns, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and translations of the first chapters of Matthew's Gospel. Thus Crowther became the first to use the Lepsius "Standard Alphabet" (Oraka p. 25).
1861 == J. F. Schon apparently resumed Igbo studies, publishing his Oku Ibo: Grammatical Elements of the Ibo Language, written in the Isuama dialect, using Lepsius orthography (Oraka p. 26).
1880s == Crowther thought his Niger Mission was collapsing, since the Igbo dialect he chose was not a "living" dialect spoken by a particular group of the Igbo. The CMS realized its mistakes and decided to give up its effort to use one dialect only (Oraka p. 27).
1882 == Crowther wrote Vocabulary of the Ibo Language, the first comprehensive dictionary in Igbo.
1885 == RCM (Roman Catholic Mission) reached Igboland but did not seem to be interested in the study of the Igbo language (Oraka p. 28).
1891 == Bishop Crowther died (over 80), and the Isuama-Igbo period died with him. By this time two young men, the Englishman T. J. Dennis and the Sierra Leonean Henry Johnson, had joined the mission (Oraka p. 27).
THE UNION IGBO STUDIES (1900-1929)
1900-29 == Union Igbo Studies period. Refers to Igbo version developed by CMS, aimed at binding or writing all Igbo dialects. Used terms understood in Onitsha, Owerri, Unwana, Arochukwu and Bonny dialects, keeping idioms and proverbs common to all. Intended to be a sort of "central" or "compromise" Igbo, playing the role of a literary medium for the Igbo people. The most prominent work published in Union Igbo was the Holy Bible (Bible Nso). The Union Igbo period saw major translation works. Missionaries collected materials on Igbo culture, including proverbs, folktales, riddles and customs (Oraka pp. 28, 29).
1904 == A. Gabot, French missionary, produced a trilingual dictionary, English-Ibo and French Dictionary (Oraka p. 30).
1907 == P. C. Zappa, a French missionary, compiled a bilingual dictionary, Essai de Dictionnaire Francais-Ibo ou Francais-Ika, with the help of a catechist, Mr. Nwokeabia. Zappa rightly saw Ika as an Igbo dialect and not as a language in itself (Oraka p. 30).
1909 == Dennis and the others completed translation of the New Testament, the last part of their work. Lepsius orthography was used. Dennis replaced "ds," "ts" and "s" with "j," "ch" and "sh." Controversy ensued about the dialect used (Oraka p. 29).
1916 == Archdeacon Dennis revised and enlarged Spencer's 1892 grammar (Oraka p. 30).
1923 == Isaac Iwekanuno wrote the first historical essay in the Igbo language, Akuko Ala Obosi, in Obosi dialect (Oraka p. 30).
1926 == On June 29, 1926, linguists and others from Africa and Europe met in London and launched the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures (Oraka p. 32).