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Benin

Language & Phrasebook

Language & Phrasebook

The official language is French — the language of the former colonial power. Native African languages such as Fon and Yoruba are spoken in the south, Bariba and Dendi in the north, and over 50 other African languages and dialects are spoken in the country. English is on the rise.

Local languages are used as the languages of instruction in elementary schools, with French only introduced after several years. In wealthier cities, however, French is usually taught at an earlier age. Beninese languages are generally transcribed with a separate letter for each speech sound (phoneme), rather than using diacritics as in French or digraphs as in English. This includes Beninese Yoruba, which in Nigeria is written with both diacritics and digraphs. For instance, the mid vowels written é è, ô, o in French are written e, ɛ, o, ɔ in Beninese languages, whereas the consonants written ng and sh or ch in English are written ŋ and c. However, digraphs are used for nasal vowels and the labial-velar consonants kp and gb, as in the name of the Fon language Fon gbe /fõ ɡ͡be/, and diacritics are used as tone marks. In French-language publications, a mixture of French and Beninese orthographies may be seen.


Yoruba phrasebook

Yorùbá is a language native to West Africa, mainly near the Bight of Benin. With over 38 million speakers worldwide, Yorùbá is easily the most influential language in all of Africa. It is spoken chiefly in NigeriaBenin, and Togo.

Basics

Hello? (informal)
Bawo ni?
How are you?
Ṣé àláàfíà ni?
Fine, thank you.
A dupẹ, ẹ se!
What is your name?
Kíni orúkọ rẹ?
What are your names?
Kíni orúkọ yín? (plural but also used for politeness towards elders)
My name is ______ .
Orúkọ mi n jẹ _____. / Orúkọ mi ni ____.
Nice to meet you. (informal)
Inu mi dun lati mọ o.
Nice to meet you. (plural/honorific)
Inu mi dun lati mọ yin
Please.
(Ẹ) jọọ (note: [ẹ] is plural in Yoruba but also used in respect to elders)
Thank you.
ẹ se / o se (note: [o] is singular and used amongst friends.)
You're welcome.
Ko si nkan kan . (ko to ọpẹ)
Yes.
bẹẹ ni
No.
bẹẹ kọ / ó ti / ra ra
Excuse me. (getting attention)
E jọwọ
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
E ma binu (literally: "Don't be angry.")
I'm sorry.
(E) pẹlẹ.
Goodbye
O dabọ!
I can't speak Yorùbá [well]
N ko le sọ Yoruba [daradara] / N kò le gbọ́ èdè Yorùbá [daradara]
I speak Yoruba a little bit
Mo gbọ́ èdè Yorùbá díẹ̀.
Do you speak English?
Ṣe o le sọ èdè oyinbo?
Is there someone here who speaks English?
Ṣe ẹnikẹni wa nibi ti o le sọ oyinbo?
Help!
ẹ gba mi o! / ran mi lowo!
Look out!
(E) wo bẹ yẹn!
Good morning.
(Ẹ) ku aarọ = E kaaro
Good evening.
(Ẹ) ku irolẹ = E kurole
Good night.
(Ẹ) ku ale = E kaale
Good night (to sleep)
O di aarọ! (note: could also be used as a dismissal. It literally means till morning.)
I don't understand.
Ko ye mi.
I understand.
O ye mi.
I have a question.
Mo ni ibeeri.
Where is the toilet?
Nibo ni ilé igbọnsẹ wa?

Numbers

ọkan or ẹni or kan
(one)

eji or meji
(two)
mẹta
(three)
mẹrin
(four)
márùn
(five)
mẹfa
(six)
meje
(seven)
mẹjọ
(eight)
mẹsan
(nine)
mẹwa
(ten)
mọkanla
(eleven)
mejila
(twelve)
mẹtala
(thirteen)
mẹrinla
(fourteen)
mẹdogun
(fifteen) note: fourteen is the last number in Yoruba, besides those in the tenth position)
mẹrindilõgún
(sixteen) note: to make sixteen Yoruba will subtract four (mẹrin) from twenty (õgún)
mẹtadilõgún
(seventeen)
mejidilõgún
(eighteen)
mọkandilõgún
(nineteen)
õgún
(twenty) note: Yoruba numbers uses increments of ten, but not like in English. It is shifted upward 15-24, 25-34, etc.
mọkanlelõgún
(twenty one) note: to make twenty one Yoruba will add one (ọkan) to twenty (õgún)
mejilelõgún
(twenty two)
mẹtalelõgún
(twenty three)
mẹrinlelõgún
(twenty four)
mẹdọgbọn
(twenty five)
ọgbọn
(thirty)
mọkanlelọgbọn
(thirty one)
márùndilogoji
(thirty five)
ogoji
(forty)
adọta
(fifty)
ọgọta
(sixty)
adọrin
(seventy)
ọgọrin
(eighty)
adọrun
(ninety)
ọgọrun
(one hundred)

===Time=== (Ago) ====Clock time==== ( Ago me loo lo lu? ( What Time is it?)

Duration

Igbawo ni (When)

Days

Ọjọ Aiku
(Sunday/Воскресенье)
Ọjọ Aje
(Monday/Понедельник)
Ọjọ Isẹgun
(Tuesday/Вторник)
Ọjọ Riru
(Wednesday/Среда)
Ọjọ Bọ
(Thursday/Четверг)
Ọjọ Ẹti
(Friday/Пятница)
Ọjọ Abamẹta
(Saturday/Суббота)

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