Language has been described as â€ś(a) Communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures or written symbols. (b) Such a system including its rules for combining its components such as words. (c) Such a system as used by a nation, people or other distinct community, often contrasted with dialect.â€ť (See: Language, www.thefreedictionary.com/language).
How was Ekaladerhan able to communicate with the people over whom he had been made a king since the Edo and Yoruba languages were and are very dissimilar? Was the language barrier not a sufficient reason to liken Ekaladerhan to a deaf and dumb, a disabled person, amidst the Yorubas he met for the first time? Was it the norm to install a deaf and dumb as king in ancient times in any community where able bodied men (not gender sensitive) lived and how many of such communities can be mentioned? The same reasoning applies to an Oduduwa from Mecca or southern Egypt. Therefore, both ideas are illogical and they fail.
From which other race or tribe did the Yorubas acquire or learn the Yoruba language with such complexities in meaning of similar words like ila, ogun, agbe, owo, etc. such that their meanings depend on the ways they are pronounced? Look at the following variants of the same letter words: (1) owo (hand), owo (respect), owo (broom in some dialects), owo (group or batch) and Owo (name of a town in Ondo State). (2) oro (vertical), oro (deity), oro (bush mango or invingia gobonesis), oro (pain), oro (poison) and Oro (a town in Kwara State). (3) igba (period), igba (garden egg), igba (two hundred) and igba (calabash). (4) ala (dream), ala (boundary), ala (white colour, used for cloth) and Ala (a stream in Akure). (5) Ogun (god of iron), ogun (sweat), ogun (war), ogun (medicine) and Ogun (a river traversing Ogun and Lagos States), and (6) ara (style), ara (thunder), ara (non-indigene), ara (body) and Ara (a town in Ekiti State).
Others include: (7) ojo (rain), ojo (cowardice) and Ojo (name of a child born with umbilical cord hanging over his neck). (8) odo (lake or river), odo (mortar), odo (clay) and odo (zero). (9) ere (play), ere (profit), ere (python), ere (image) and ere (type of beans). (10) eru (load), eru (slave) and eru (cheat). (11) oje (brass), oje (liquid from back of trees, leaves and fruits) and oje (lie). (12) agbon (coconut), agbon (bees), agbon (chin) and agbon (basket). (13) orun (neck), orun (heaven) and orun (five). (14) egbe (group, society), egbe (side) and egbe (old, to distinguish yams). (15) oko (husband), oko (hoe) and oko (fishermanâ€™s hook).
There are hundreds of similar words with two meanings. These include: (16) iku (stomach) and iku (death); (17) obo (monkey) and obo (poison); (18) oko (stone) and oko (penis); (19) ogbon (wisdom) and ogbon (street); (20) ede (language) and ede (crayfish); (20) egan (mockery) and egan (forest); (21) ilu (drum) and ilu (town); (22) ehin (tooth) and ehin (back); (23) okun (rope) and okun (ocean); (24) ola (wealth) and ola (tomorrow); (25) ebi (guilt) and ebi (relative); (26) ise (work) and ise (poverty); (27) ewa (beauty) and ewa (beans); (28) orin (chewing stick) and orin (song); (29) esan (revenge) and esan (nine); and (30) ona (path) and ona (marks).
Others include: (31) ila (okro) and ila (mark); (32) efon (mosquito) and efon (antelope); (33) erin (laughter) and erin (four); (34) ewe (leave) and ewe (youth); (35) aye (chance) and aye (world); (36) ope (appreciation) and ope (palm tree); (37) aya (wife) and aya (chest); (38) abe (blade) and abe (under); (39) ori (head) and ori (wax); (40) agbara (strength) and agbara (run off); (41) olu (king) and olu (mushroom); (42) ajo (journey) and ajo (dye); (43) apa (hand) and apa (prodigality); (44) ile (home, house) and ile (nest); (45) iru (tail) and iru (locust beans); (46) iko (cough) and iko (batch); (47) egbo (injury) and egbo (cooked maize); (48) omo (child) and omo (type of wood); (49) igbe (excreta) and igbe (bush); and (50) eje (blood) and eje (promise), among others.
Could all these words and theirs variants have evolved from the well documented Edo (Benin), Egyptian, Arabian, etc. languages? No. No such evidences exist anywhere. Therefore, the Yorubas were not of Benin, Egyptian, Arabian, etc. origin. To elevate a few tens of language similarities to heights of associating the Yorubas with other tribes is to deny history the effect of trade, marriage and migration. The word â€śTabiliâ€ť in Yoruba is derived from â€śTableâ€ť in English. Was that a sufficient proof that the Yorubas were British in origin? No.
In fact there are some key words in Yoruba that find no application elsewhere. An example is â€śE ku ileâ€ť. The one coming in is often expected to say â€śE ku ileâ€ť first before being welcomed with â€śE ku aboâ€ť. â€śE ku ileâ€ť has no English equivalent. The Yoruba language is also unique. â€śOmiâ€ť is water, â€śOdoâ€ť is river or lake, â€śOkunâ€ť is ocean or sea, and â€śOjoâ€ť is rain. Others include â€śagbadoâ€ť meaning maize, â€śisuâ€ť meaning yam, â€śafefeâ€ť meaning air, â€śijokoâ€ť menaing â€śseatâ€ť, â€śoyeâ€ť meaning title, obinrin (female child), okunrin (male child), ako (male), abo (female), iya (mother), baba (father), etc. Do these words mean the same things respectively in Igbo, Edo, Israeli, Arabic, and Egyptian languages? No.
The Yorubas speak with proverbs hence the saying that â€śOwe lâ€™eshin oroâ€ť meaning a proverb is a carrier of every message. Better still that proverbs enrich words and messages to make them not just much more understandable but have lasting effects. Why would this compare with the ways of life of Jesus Christ whilst on earth who was found of speaking in proverbs (See: John 16:25-29)? Yoruba proverbs are numerous. For instance, â€śA ki i fa ori eni lâ€™ehin eniâ€ť meaning that oneâ€™s head cannot be shaved in oneâ€™s absence. The import of this statement is that one needs to be present or be contacted when a very important decision involving the person is to be made.
Another one is â€śOpo ojo lo ti ro ti ile ti muâ€ť meaning that a lot of rains have fallen and have percolated into the earth. The import of this statement is that a lot of events have happened since the last time those involved discussed or met. What about â€śOmode gbon, agba gbon la fi da Ile Ifeâ€ť meaning that the combined wisdom of the children and those of the aged were used to create Ile Ife. The import is that the youth in a gathering should be given the opportunity to air their opinion(s) before the elders take a decision.
Similar to this is â€śOgbon ologbon ki i je ki a pe agba ni wereâ€ť meaning that the wisdom of others do not allow elders to be called mad people. The import is that the elders make right judgements whilst relying on the wisdom of others who must have contributed ahead to a discussion.
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