My last post marked the beginning of my Igbo language-learning journey.
In summary, I talked about my motivation for learning Igbo, which are:
- to be able to converse fluently with other Igbo speakers and
- to gain insights from a beginner’s perspective that’ll enhance the learning experience of the upcoming version of Igbo101
Background on Onye nkuzi m (my teacher)
Oriaku (Mrs) Chiamago Onwuka is a graduate of Igbo Studies from Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, Nigeria. She’s from Ezinifite town in Aguata local government area of Anambra state. She’s married with umu (children) and is currently a fulltime Igbo language teacher. Oriaku Onwuka is the main content contributor on the Igbo101 app. She’s been on the Igbo101 team from day 1; n’afo puku abuo na iri na ato (year 2013) when the first Igbo101 version 1.0 was released.
First Igbo Class
My first Igbo class went on for 2 hours with a lot more than I can share. However, the highlights below are based on my understanding of what was taught and proved to be the most interesting insights I gained. They are also open to corrections from you or myself as I progress with my Igbo classes.
For a start, I was asked to recite the Igbo alphabet, coincidentally the first topic present in the Igbo101 app. This was done to sharpen my pronunciation of all 36 letters of the Igbo alphabet and to differentiate between vowels and consonants. While I have often seen Alphabet as the core to understanding any language, the day’s lesson reinforced that even more.
Forming Words in Igbo
Onye nkuzi m taught me about the rules of forming words in Igbo. In Igbo, you form words by combining mgbochiume (consonants) and ụdaume (Vowels). However, there are exceptions for the consonants ‘m’ and ‘n’, which act as vowels in certain contexts and are thus called Myiri ụdaume. Examples are:
- Mmiri (water)
- Nnụnụ (bird)
In both examples, the first letters M and N of the words are taken as vowels.
We looked at some basic Igbo pronouns used in common expressions.
m, i, ị, o and ọ
- ‘m’ is used when speaking directly about oneself (First person). Examples are:
- Onye nkuzi m = My teacher
- Aha m = My name
- Nwuye m = My wife
- Aghọtaghị m = I don’t understand
- ‘i’ & ‘ị’ are used for the person being directly spoken to (Second person). For example,
- Kedu ka i meere? = How are you?
- ọ and o are used for a third party who isn’t directly involved in the conversation (Third person). For example,
- Kedu ka o mere? = How is he or she?
gi and ya
- Kedu ka di ya mere? = How is her husband?
- Kedu ka di gi mere? = How is your husband?
- Kedu ka nwuye ya mere? = How is his wife?
- Kedu ka nwuye gị mere? = How is your wife?
a and ahu
a is used for this while ahu is used for that. Examples,
- Aghọtaghị m nke a = I don’t understand this
- Aghọtaghị m nke ahu = I don’t understand that
- Aghọtara m nke a = I understand this
- Aghọtara m nke ahu = I understand that
Ọrụ ụlọ (homework)
My homework was to write a composition about myself in Igbo. I kept it simple by writing about my name, age, sex, state of origin, sibling…each of which drew from different topics – counting, sentences, families – in the Igbo101 app, my companion for the assignment.
As I can imagine it is with beginners keen to learn the language of Igbo, there’s a temptation to overlook the foundations but as I’m learning from my tutor, there has to be a balance between the academic and conversational approach. If any, by constantly mispronouncing words, I realize the essence of having a proper grounding in the Igbo Alphabet. Also, I realized the essence of the basic topics in Igbo101 as various examples used words from those. For example, counting, food items etc. form the crux of everyday conversations in Igbo.
Until I come your way again, please share and sign-up below. Join my conversation on Twitter where I talk about my journey using the hashtags #igbo101diary #igbo101
Sign up for my Igbo101 Diaries Newsletter
Ka ọ di.