Igbo, or Ibo , one of the largest languages of West Africa, is spoken by 44 million people in Nigeria. It belongs to the Benue-Congo group of the Niger-Congo language family. The language is thought to have originated around the 9th century AD in the area near the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers, and then spread over a wide area of southeastern Nigeria.
There are approximately 30 Igbo dialects, some of which are not mutually intelligible. For the most part, however, differences are lexical and phonological (Ethnologue). The large number of dialects has hindered the development of a standardized spoken and written Igbo. Standard literary Igbo, based on the Owerri and Umuahia dialects, in use since 1962, is not universally accepted by speakers of other dialects. Standard Igbo aims to include words from other Igbo dialects as well as loanwords from other languages.