Yorùbá is a Niger-Congo language related to Igala, Edo, Ishan, and Igbo amongst others. It is one of the principal languages of Nigeria and spoken in a couple of countries in the West African coast. An estimated 20+ million people speak Yorùbá as their first language in south western Nigeria and more in the Republics of Benin and Togo. Yorùbá is also spoken by diaspora communities of traders in Cote d'Ivore, Ghana, Senegal and the Gambia, and it used to be a vibrant language in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Outside West Africa, millions of people have Yorùbá language and culture as part of their heritage; Yorùbá religion being one of the means of survival in Cuba during the obnoxious slave trade. Many who did not have Yorùbá as their heritage bought into Yorùbá identity through religious conversion. Yorùbá language, culture and religion survived since then until now in Brazil and several other New World countries. A mixture of the old and new decendants of the Yorùbá now live in North America, the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Yorùbá is one of the most extensively researched of all sub-Saharan languages and cultures, and has a long tradition of oral verbal production (oral literature) within indigenous cosmopolitan which is receptive of both Islamic and Christian cultures. Yorùbá is one of the many African languages that one is sure to hear people speak in the buses and the underground trains in several parts of London; a BBC reporter has compared Rye Lane in Peckham, South East London, to a mini-Lagos, where one can hear several people speaking loudly in Yorùbá as they go about their shopping. Like many other African languages, Yorùbá is tonal.
Useful phrases in Yoruba (English sentences followed by Yoruba translation):
Welcome Ẹ ku abọ Hello (General greeting) Ẹ n lẹ How are you? Ṣe daadaa ni o wa? Reply to 'How are you?' Mo wa daadaa, o ̣se. Iwọ naa n kọ? Long time no see O to ọjọ mẹta o OR O pẹ ti a ri ara wa o What's your name? Ki ni orukọ rẹ? My name is ... Orukọ mi ni…… Where are you from? Nibo ni o ti wa? I'm from ... Mo wa lati ... Pleased to meet you Inu mi dun lati mọ ọ Good morning (Morning greeting) Ẹ ku aarọ Good afternoon (Afternoon greeting) Ẹ ku ọsan Good evening (Evening greeting) Ẹ ku alẹ Good night O da aarọ Goodbye (Parting phrases) O da abọ Good luck Yoo dara o OR Yoo bọ si o Cheers! Good Health! (Toasts used when drinking) Ayọ ni o, Kara o le Have a nice day Oni a dara o Bon appetit / Have a nice meal Ounjẹ ajẹye o OR Yoo gba ibi re Bon voyage / Have a good journey O da abọ OR Ka sọ layọ o I understand O ye mi I don't understand Ko ye emi Yes Bẹẹ ni No Bẹẹ kọ OR Ó ti Ra ra Maybe Boya I don't know N ko mo Please speak more slowly Jọwọ, rọra maa sọrọ Please say that again Jọwọ, tun un sọ Please write it down Jọwọ, kọ ọ silẹ Do you speak English? Ṣe o le sọ èdè oyinbo? Do you speak Yoruba? Ṣe o n sọ Yorùbá? Yes, a little (reply to 'Do you speak ...?') Bẹẹ ni, diẹ How do you say ... in Yoruba? Bawo ni o se le sọ …... ni Yorùbá? Excuse me Ẹ ̣se fun mi OR Ẹ jọwọ, ẹ gbọ mi How much is this? Eelo ni eyi? Sorry Pẹlẹ Thank you O ̣se OR E se Reply to thank you Ko to ọpẹ Where's the toilet? Nibo ni ile igbọnsẹ wa? This gentleman will pay for everything Alagba yii yoo sanwo fun gbogbo rẹ This lady will pay for everything Iyaafin yii yoo sanwo fun gbogbo rẹ Would you like to dance with me? Ṣe iwọ maa ba mi jo? I miss you Aro re so mi I love you Mo nifẹẹ rẹ Get well soon Da ara ya o Leave me alone! Fi mi silẹ Help! Ẹ gba mi o! Fire! Ina o! Stop! Duro nbẹ! Call the police! Pe awọn ọlọpaa Christmas and New Year greetings Ẹ ku Ayọ Keresimesi ati Ọdun Tuntun Easter greetings Ẹ ku Ayọ Ajinde Birthday greetings Ẹ ku Ayọ Ọjọ Ibi One language is never enough Ede kan ko to ri rara