Igbo Dictionaries: A Showcase for an Open Country

Ugochukwu, Francoise (2008). Igbo Dictionaries: A Showcase for an Open Country. Africana, 2(1) pp. 1–32.

URL: http://www.africanajournal.org/issues.html


Since the first recording of the Kalabari dialect of Ijo by Europeans in the 17th century, Nigerian languages have been studied and a good number of grammars, dictionaries and readers published. Yet, in 1981, the Igbo historian Afigbo deplored the fact that “languages like Hausa and Yoruba have now outdistanced Igbo as academic disciplines and living media of discussion.” This study will consider the case of Igbo language, the third most important national language after Hausa and Yoruba, briefly survey its development and review the various word lists and dictionaries published since the 1850s, with special emphasis on bilingual dictionaries, to highlight the key-role they played as a showcase of the recurring trends and drawbacks in the progress of Igbo studies in a country where international exposure matters most.

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