Odual language

Odual language
Spoken in Nigeria
Region Rivers State
Ethnicity Odual
Native speakers 18,000  (1989)
Language family
  • Atlantic–Congo
    • Benue–Congo
Language codes
ISO 639-3 odu

Onu Odual (the Odual language) is a poorly studied Central Delta language spoken by the Odual community in the Abua–Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria. The Odual community is divided into three major groups, Adibaam, Arughunya and Abureni groups. The Adibaam group comprises Adada, Emelego, Ogboloma and Okolomade; the Arughunya group comprises Ekunuga, Anyu, Emaarikpoko, Obedum and Odau, while the Abureni group comprises Akani, Amuruto and Emago-Kugbo (cf. Gardner et al. 1974 and Comson 1987). Comson (1987: viii), citing the Rivers State of Nigeria Ministry of Economic Development and planning (1983), puts the population of Odual at 30,028.

The Odual Clan is bounded in the east by Abua villages of Ogbema, Arukwo, Ogbogolo, in the west by Oloibiri, Amurukeni in Ogbia (in Bayelsa State of Nigeria), in the north by Oruma, Ibelebiri, Kolo (also in Ogbia), and in the south by Nembe town of Oluasiri, Bassambiri, Ekpoma, Ogbolomabiri (also in Bayelsa State of Nigeria), etc. (Comson 1987:vii). Odual is not spoken by all the communities that make up the Odual Clan. The communities that do not speak Odual are those that belong to the Abureni group. These communities speak Kugbo, a Delta Cross language that is coordinate with Odual (Comson 1987: xii). In addition to Odual, some speakers in the Adibaam group also understand and speak Abuan, Kugbo, Nembe, Kalabari and Ogbia (Kolo Creek), some speakers in the Arughunya group also understand and speak Ogbia, Nembe and Kalabari. Speakers of the Odual language call themselves Ikpetemonu Odual, meaning "speakers of the Odual language". A speaker of this language is called Okpetemonu Odual.

Odual is coordinate with other Central Delta languages such as Abuan, Kugbo, Mini, Obulom, Ogbia, Ogbogolo and Ogbronuagum (Faraclas 1989:381). These languages with which Odual is coordinate are also spoken in Rivers State of Nigeria, except Ogbia, which is spoken in Bayelsa State of Nigeria. There is a dearth of scholarly linguistic literature on these languages in comparison with languages such as Degema, Kalabari, Obolo, and Izon. The major linguistic studies on Odual are Comson (1987), Madumere (2006), and Kari (2009). Other materials on Odual include Gardner et al. (1974), Gardner (1975), and Kari (2007a, 2007b).


  • Comson, Emmanuel E. 1987. The phonology of Odual. B.A. long essay, University of Port Harcourt.
  • Faraclas, Nicholas G. 1989. Cross River. In John Bendor-Samuel (ed.), The Niger–Congo Languages, 378-399. Lanham: University Press of America, Inc.
  • Gardner, Ian D. 1975. Odual/English word list. Jos: Institute of Linguistics.
  • Gardner, Ian, Amelia Gardner and Martin Abigo. 1974. Reading and writing Odual. Ibadan and Port Harcourt: Rivers Readers Project.
  • Kari, Ethelbert E. 2007a. The pronominal system of Odual. Studies in African Linguistics, 36, 91-113.
  • Kari, Ethelbert E. 2007b. Noun class vestiges in Odual. In Ozo-mekuri Ndimele (ed.), Nigerian Languages, Literatures, Cultures & Policy Reforms: A Festschrift for Ayo Bamgbose, 523-543. Port Harcourt: The Linguistic Association of Nigeria and M & J Grand Orbit Communications Ltd. & Emhai Press.
  • Kari, Ethelbert E. 2009. A grammatical description of the Odual language. Osaka: Research Institute for World Languages. ISSN 1883-0633, v.5
  • Madumere, Rosemary O. 2006. Verb morphology of Odual. B.A. thesis, University of Port Harcourt.

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