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Yoruba Radios app. Yorùbá is a Niger–Congo language spoken in West Africa by approximately 20 million speakers. The native tongue of the Yoruba people, is spoken, among other languages, in Nigeria, Benin, and Togo and in communities in other parts of Africa, Europe and the Americas. A variety of the language, Lucumi, is used as the liturgical language of the Santeria religion of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. It is most closely related to the Itsekiri language spoken in the Niger-Delta and Igala spoken in central Nigeria.

The ancestor of the Yoruba speakers is, according to their oral traditions, Oduduwa. Although they share a common history, it is only since the second half of the nineteenth century that the children of Oduduwa share one name. At some stage the term Yariba or Yoruba came into use, first confined to the Ọyọ Kingdom; the term was used among the Hausa (as it is today) but its origins are unclear. In part due to the development of a written standard, the term Yoruba was extended to include all speakers of the language.

Linguistic means — including, for example, historical-comparative linguistics, glottochronology, and dialectology — used along with both traditional (oral) historical sources and archaeological finds, have shed some light on the history of the Yorubas and their language before this point. The North-West Yoruba dialects, for example, show more linguistic innovations. According to some, this, combined with the fact that Southeast and Central Yoruba areas generally have older settlements, suggests a later date of immigration for Northwest Yoruba.

native name èdè Yorùbá, 'the Yorùbá language'

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