Inside a Nigerian farming community where men and women speak different languages but understand each other

Ubang is a village located between two mountains in Obudu Local Government Area, Cross River State.

Oliver Ibang, a red cap chief in the village demonstrated to BBC's Yemisi Adegoke, the different languages male and female call various items.

In the village, the female describes yam, one of Nigeria's staple foods, as “Irui”, but in Ubang's "male language" the word for yam, is "Itong".

The word for clothing is "nki" for women and "ariga" for men and many others.

In a similar article by a local newspaper, Vanguard, the men folk call water ‘Amie’, while the female call it ‘Banu’. The verb, ‘go,’ is ‘Mbie’ for the men, while for the women, it is ‘Uruo’.

Chief Ibang said as the boys grow up at age 10, they are expected to speak the “male language.”

He said maturity comes when he starts speaking the male language and if a child does not switch language at a certain age, it is considered abnormal in the community.

Concern about the future of the Ubang languages

BBC reported that there is also a growing concern about the survival of the different languages as they are not written down.

It is hard for any Ubang villager to speak the languages without mixing an English word.

Native language is fading away gradually as English is used to foster unity in Nigeria's linguistic diversity. The Linguistic Association of Nigeria has said 50 of the nation's 500 languages could disappear in the next few years.


The story first appeared on BBC Africa. To Read more visit: BBC Africa.

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