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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.

New – Benue – Congo

Eastern Benue Congo

Bantoid Cross

Cross River

Delta Cross

Central Delta      Ogoni        Lower Cross               Upper Cross


Iko     CLC          Ebughu       Ilue             Enwang-Uda     Usaghade

Itu Mbonuso    Efik               Etebi       Okobo

Ibuoro       Annang       Eket     Oro      Ibeno

Ito              Ibibio                     Mbo(Efai)    Enwang       Uda

Nkari           Ukwa

1.5   Statement of the Problem

Uda as a dialect has no officially approved orthography since its inception.

Therefore this work will be establishing the sound system of Uda particularly the consonant sounds.

1.6   Objectives of the Study

To know how many consonants sound exist in Uda

To describe the consonants of Uda

To know how and where this sounds occur in Uda

1.7   Significance of the Study

Any language that does not have an officially approved orthography is said to be underdeveloped. In the light of this, the significance of this work will include:

It will enhance further discovery in Uda language

It will save Uda language from going into extinction

It will help Uda language to have an approved writing system.

There are also many undergraduate works on consonants but such researches are done in other dialects. So, this would serve as a ground breaking work as far as consonant is concerned in Uda.

1.8   Methodology


The gathering and analysis of data to establish how many consonants exits in Uda was done systematically. Thus, this section explains the methods involved in gathering data to show how many consonants exist in Uda.

1.8.1        Research Design

The effect in this work was aimed at recording natural discourse data from Uda community. This was achieved partly through descriptive research design. This is to say that research questions, sampling procedures, data collection, descriptive approach were used.


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