Ubang: The Nigerian village where men and women speak different languages


In Ubang, a farming community in southern Nigeria, men and women say they speak different languages. They view this unique difference as “a blessing from God”, but as more young people leave for greener pastures and the English language becomes more popular, there are concerns it won’t survive, reports the BBC’s Yemisi Adegoke.

There are concerns about the survival of the different languages.

Neither the male nor female language is written down so their futures depend on the younger generation passing them down. But these days, few young people speak either fluently.

Chief Ibang has dreams that one day a language centre will be set up in Ubang, showcasing the uniqueness of the community’s two languages.

And he is confident that the languages will survive.

“If the languages die, then the Ubang people will exist no more.”

Read this and I thought it was really interesting. There are many languages which are dying out in the world, but these are pretty unique. I liked reading about the different theories as to how it came to be.


I don’t remember the name, but npr did a story on a groupntrying to preserve langue before they die out. Some of the languages are pretty unusual. For example, there was some group of people that lived in the mountains and needed to communicate at great distances. They had a language based on whistles and a more regular verbal language for when they were close to each other.


I read about this group recently. They live on one of the Canary Islands. They actually teach it in schools to preserve it. I forgot the name of the language.

As for the OP, I’m pretty sure my husband and I speak different languages. :nerd_face:


My wife is a Canadian. Sometimes I’m surprised that we manage to communicate at all. :wink:


It’s tough eh? :canada:


It is. They look just like us, and almost sound like us, but somehow, they’re… not. :smile:


That’s what people say about Ohio. It’s like a strange America :us: :cowboy_hat_face:

I read this book awhile back:


I know a Filipino doctor and his wife. They were both born in the Philippines. There are a lot of languages and dialects in the Philippines. The only language the two of them hold in common is English, as neither can speak the first language of the other.

But it’s interesting too that he attended the University of Santo Tomas, which is the Harvard of the Philippines. Classes there are all in English, and in English alone.

I met a man from some island in the Pacific, and had occasion to talk to him. His employer provided a translator, but it turns out the translator couldn’t speak the language of the man. They were both from an island, half of which has one language and half of which has another.

I have hear the same about Somalis. There are at least two languages there. Some also speak Arabic, but most don’t.

But getting back to Canadians. One of my sisters-in-law is from Alberta. As long as one learns to say “snew” for “snow” and doesn’t make fun of “Boxing Day”, one will be okay with Albertans, at least.


Husbands are people who go on about the Apollo rockets and fighter jets but can’t work washing machines. That’s a Romanian friend of mine’s definition of we men.


We take our laundry to one of those Laundry Shoppes.

Give ticket; Get shirt.


I presume you mean a dry cleaner. That would get mighty expensive here. We reserve that for items that need specialist care or when you want something repair or to look its very best.



It was a laundry shoppe operated by a fellow was / is [clearly] Chinese.


No equivalent in the UK. The nearest would be laundries but they are nearly extinct in many towns and cities.


I believe some time back Cardinal Arinze mentioned that there were over 24 languages spoken in Nigeria. It was one of the reasons for the new more precise English translations since there were too few Latinists speaking all those languages.


How do people do their laundry? Does everyone have a washer and dryer in their apartment?

Here in NYC, most people don’t. Often there are sort of communal washers and dryers in the basement of apartment buildings, but sometimes there aren’t.

And there are local laundromats, where one can do one’s own laundry, or just drop off your laundry in the morning and pick it up, all clean and folded, everywhere.


Most people own a washing machine yes. I have a washing machine in the kitchen. My dad is scared of it and so for him we have Mr. Spin Dryer as he is used to these old fashioned and rapidly disappearing creatures. He likes to do his own washing still unless it is awkward items like sheets. UK apartment building have no communal areas like that for the most part. Buildings in the USSR when my wife was a kid had areas like that she points out and some places in some areas of the UK did have them in some select spots, halls of residence for students etc. might have them but in private flats or apartments it would be very uncommon. Laundries do still exist for those who don’t own washing machines but they are pricey and by the time you pay for one or two washes you’d be looking at a lot of coins shoved in the machines. As washing machines at the lower end of the price bracket are a couple of hundred pound people usually just buy a washing machine.


Yep. My late uncle was a Jesuit who spent most of his adult life in Nigeria (he knew Cardinal Arinze before he was a cardinal). He knew Ibo (is that right?) fluently, and could get by in a couple of others. English is pretty widely spoken, apparently, at least among those who’ve had the chance to get some education.

When I was a kid, I was always happy when he made a visit to the US, he had lots of great stories and pictures.


The guy on the right (below) is my uncle. One of the first three Jesuits assigned to Nigeria.



It would be interesting to analyse the different vocabularies regarding quantity of words, which had more descriptive language, which used idioms and phrases more, if there were different ideas of morality expressed in the language structure et cetera.

I’d also like to know how the society functions and if a lot of the daily life is segregated, how close the partners were in their marriages with things such as giving emotional support and being faithful.

Such a goldmine for a socialogist!


Yes, she’s been a big fan of this for years. Her opinions are a decided minority.

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