Bendi materials

Home

 

The Bendi languages are located in the northern part of Cross River State in southeastern Nigeria and adjacent parts of Cameroon (Crozier and Blench 1992; Dieu & Renaud 1983). The name Bendi (Bɛ̀-nd) was originally proposed by David Crabb (1967) from the word for person. Winston (1964, 1965) referred to them as Boki-Sbɛkwara on the basis of their most well-known members, but this name has not been adopted. Greenberg (1966) classified them as part of Cross River, and this has been accepted by subsequent authors (e.g. in the influential Williamson 1971) which also reviews previous scholarship. The absence of published data may well explain why their classification has generally been repeated without comment.

 

Very little research has been conducted on Bendi languages and modern work that does exist, mostly on Bekwara, and Bokyi, remains unpublished or inaccessible. Early materials can be found in Koelle (1854), Mansfield (1908), Thomas (1914)[1] and Johnston (1919-22) (see Table 12 for a synopsis of sources). Modern, linguistically-informed material begins with the Benue-Congo Comparative Wordlist (Williamson and Shimizu 1968; Williamson 1973), which lists only three or four languages. Apart from these, the only major publications are the Bokyi Dictionary (Bruns 1975) and an introduction to the language (Tǎwo-su 1977) both of which are far from accessible. The Bendi group is notable for having one language (Ubang) that has male and female speech-forms, although documentation for this comes from a newspaper feature (Umoh 1989), which does, however, include a wordlist. Kay Williamson also has some mss. giving student orthographic wordlists for otherwise completely unrecorded languages such as Bumaji and Afrike. Table 1 lists the presently known Bendi languages with population figures and dialects (largely from Lewis 2009).

 

Table 1. The Bendi languages

 

 

 

Comment

Afrike

 

3500

 

Alege

Ugbe

1200

 

Bekwara

Yakoro

100,000

 

Bete-Bendi

Dama

36,800

 

Bokyi

Ŋki

144,000

also in Cameroun

Bumaji

 

?

twelve villages

Obanliku

 

65000

includes Basang, Bebi, Bishiri, Bisu (=Gayi), Busi

Ubang (m./ f.)

 

?

 

Ukpe-Bayobiri

 

12000

 

Utugwong

 

?

includes Obe, Oboso, Okorogung, Okorotung

 

Many of these figures are very old and have been repeated from one reference book to another.

 

Documents

 

Title

Author

Status

Comparative Bendi

Roger Blench

Unpublished

Obe cluster survey

P. Otronyi et al.

Unpublished

Obe Wordlists

P. Otronyi et al.

Unpublished

Bekwara grammar

Ron Stanford

Unpublished

Bokyi wordlist

H. Jungraithmayr

Published

 

Top of the Document



[1] The three Bendi vocabularies given in Thomas (Dama, Gayi and Yakoro) were forwarded from the Provincial Office rather than collected directly by him.