Uda Consonant System

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

Uda Consonant System

Chapter One


Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communications or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication. When used as a general concept “language” refers to the cognitive faculty that enables humans to learn and use systems of complex communication. The capacity to learn language is deeply ingrained in us just as the capacity to walk, to grasp objects, to recognize faces. We don’t find any serious differences in children growing up in congested urban slums, in isolated mountain villages, or in privileged suburban villas.

It is obvious that language is extremely complex and individuals do not learn a language simply by memorizing the sentences of a language and storing them in some giant mental dictionary. The list of words is finite but no dictionary can hold all the sentence of a language, which are infinite in number. Rather, individuals acquire a system of rules that enables them to construct and understand sentences, most of which they have never produced or heard before. Children, like adult, are creative in their use of language.

Language according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, is a system of communication in speech and writing that is used by people of a particular country or area.

Linguistically, language is viewed as a system of arbitrary vocal symbols which human beings use in communicating. This vocal symbols include consonants and vowels. This work specifically is based on consonants in Uda, in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

A consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete of partial closure of the vocal tract. Natural languages possess these sounds. Consonant sounds in Uda have not been identified since they don’t have an orthography though they exist.

1.1 Background of the Study

Phonology is that branch of linguistics which studies the sound system of languages. However the sound system of any language are vowels and consonants. The aim of phonology is to discover the principles that govern the ways sounds are organized in languages and to explain the variations that occur. We begin by analyzing an individual language to determine which sound units are used and which patterns they form. The sound system of any language are vowels and consonants. The aim of phonology is to discover the principal that govern the way sounds are organized in languages and to explain the variations that occur. We begin by analyzing an individual language to determine which sound units are used and which patterns they form the languages sound system.

Where phonetics is the study of all possible speech sound, phonology studies the way in which a language’s speakers systemically use a selection of these sounds in order to express meaning.

According o Crystal (2005) “There is a further way of drawing the distinction. No two speakers have anatomically identical vocal tracts, and thus no one produces sounds in exactly the same way as anyone else…yet when using our language we are able to discount much of this variation, and focus on only those sounds, or properties of sound, that are important for the communication of meaning. We think of our fellow speakers as using the “same” sounds, even though acoustically they are not. Phonology is the study of how we find order within the chaos of speech sounds”.

As opposed to phonology, phonetics studies the physical world taking into consideration the anatomical and physiological properties of man that bring them into being both phonology and phonetics are concerned with speech. The division between the two subjects is over simplified, as the distinction between the two is not really clear out or sharp. This is because in most cases in the study of phonetics one cannot avoid reference to phonology; similarly one cannot study sounds in a vacuum without reference to their function.

1.2 Scope of the Study

Consonant can be seen as those sounds produced when the airstream is obstructed either totally or partially at some point along the vocal tract. So this work will focus on the sound system of Uda, precisely the consonants.

1.3 Background information on Uda People

The name Uda implies both a dialect and a people. This section, therefore gives information about the people of Uda as well as the Uda dialect.

1.3.1 Origin and Migration

Uda is one of the significant groups in what is today Oro nation. It is a lower cross language spoken in Mbo local government area of Akwa Ibom state. Historically, Uda migrated from Israel and settled first at Uganda (South Africa) and thereafter, crossed the Sahara desert to settle in the North Africa. Later they moved to Cameroon, then to Calabar and finally to Ibaka in Akwa Ibom State. Ibaka is an entity in the Uda group of villages and is derived from the phrase “Iba eka” meaning two have gone.

According to the chiefs and elders of Uda, they worship a god called “Azurubu”. Azurubu is the god that protects them from drowning when their canoe sinks. It is the mother of all other gods hence the greatest among (gods). However the people of Uda community acknowledge the existence of the Almighty God whom they call Jehovah. They abstain from eating crab because it’s a symbol of their greatest god “Azurubu”.

In Uda going by their tradition, they never accepted twin children and the mother but since the inception of Christianity twin children were welcomed. Community life in the town of Uda is cordial peaceful, lovely and free from altruism.

1.3.2 Location and Population

Uda is the second largest community in Mbo Local Government Area after Ebughu. They were the last settler in Oron community sharing boundaries with other people.

In the North the share boundary with Esit Eket, in the West, Ebughu /Urue Offong Oruko, in the South, Enwang and in the East, Oron/Cross River State.

According to Hon. Chris Abasieyo a former commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Uda comprises of Eight villages namely: Eke-uda, Affi-uda, Uyenge, Ujoh-Entighe, orukinm Udinghi, Ampramprang and Ibaka which he said is the largest village in Uda. Still speaking he said all these villages share the same crucial heritage and devoid of disunity.

Their topography is the best in the area, fertilized soil, swamp savannah and aeriable land.

According to the population census of 2006, the census put the population of the Uda people at 500,000 and this made them the second largest in Mbo and fifth largest in Oro nation as a whole.


The people of Uda are predominantly fishermen and farmers. It is believed that a child of 15yrs of age should be able to master paddling a canoe and also applying net in the sea properly.

1.4 The Uda Dialect

Lower cross languages are spoken in three states of Nigeria. Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Cross River. The Uda dialects is spoken in eight villages of the Uda community. They include: Eke –Uda, Affi-Uda, Uyenge, Ukoh-Entighe, Orukin, Udinghi, Apranprang and Ibaka.

The diagram below shows the genetic relationship of Uda with other languages of the New Benue Congo.

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Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

In this chapter, the summary of this research will be given and some vital recommendations will be made.

5.1 Summary

This research majored itself with the consonant system of Uda. The use of Ibadan 400 word list and personal report with the native speakers of Uda language helped in giving credence to this research.

Research has proven that Uda language has twenty consonant sounds which are [p, b, t, d, k, kp, m, n, §, ŋ, f, s, h, v, r, y, j,w,i]. The description and distribution, i.e. where they occur either initially, medially or finally where also looked into. The predominantly noticed syllable structure is the CV (c) basic structure. Three phonological process found in Uda were also studied namely: consonant Assimilation, consonant deletion and consonant weakening.

5.2 Conclusion

Since language is as important as life itself, it is my sincere opinion that no language should be allowed to go extinct or into endangerment. Language is used to run our day to day activity and also helps in the discovery of people’s history and culture.

However this work which majored on consonants has been able to ascertain the number of consonant sounds present in Uda language. It was also discovered in the process of carrying out this research, that the Ebughu speaking community has a mutual intelligibility with Uda.

5.3 Recommendation

I sincerely recommend that this research be read by students especially students studying linguistics.

I also wish that line with the law from the National policy on Education, Uda language should be used for instruction in the primary level so that the beginners will have a good knowledge of their mother and also salvage it at points of extinction.


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