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The Bini or Edo (Ɛdo [ ˩ ˥ ] ) language, together with the Ishan (Esã [ ˥ ˩ ])
dialect, which is not dealt with in this dictionary, forms the central
group of the cluster of languages generally known under the same name
and belonging to the Kwa group of Western Sudan languages. In the
north of Bini-Ishan, the Kukuruku languages of the same family are
spoken; in the south, the Sobo and Isoko languages, also belonging to
the same group.

    The area of the Bini or Edo language (which will in what follows
always be understood as excluding Ishan) is almost identical with the
Benin Division of the Benin Province in Southern Nigeria. Actually,
not the whole of that division is inhabited by Bini people; some parts
near the southern boundary (e.g. Jesse) having a Sobo, and some near
the eastern boundary (Igbãkɛ), an Ika-Ibo population. Besides those,
there are interspersed Sobo, Jekri and Ijaw settlements, and a number
of members of other tribes, such as Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa in Benin
City, near the boundaries and at trading settlements. Whether there
are Bini-speaking settlements worth mentioning outside the Division
is not certain. There seem to be many Bini people at Akure (Ondo
Province), and possibly there are Bini-speaking villages in the south
of Ondo province (Okitipupa Division).

    The language is on the whole homogeneous, a fact which is due to
the strong political centralisation of the people round the Ɔba at Benin
City. The inhabitants of the village of Ɔza near the eastern boundary
of the Division, not far from Igbãkɛ, speak a different dialect which
is easily understood by other Bini speakers and is considered as Bini.
These people are said to have come from Ɔzara^1 on the other side of
the present boundary (i.e. in the Agbor Division) within recent times,
and to have adopted the Bini language. At Ehɔ on the Bini-Ishan
boundary, and in the regions behind the Ossiomo (called Iyek-orhiɔʋ̃ɔ),
the speech is said to have dialectal peculiarities.

    The number of Bini speakers may amount to about 90-100,000, the
population of the Division being 110,738 according to the Census of
1931, including the non-Bini population.
^1 The Ɔzara people have a language of their own which the author has not been
able to study. It is perhaps not identical with the above-mentioned Ika-Ibo.