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The Village Where Men and Women Speak Different Languages

In Ubang, southern Nigeria, men and women speak different languages. They view this unique difference as “a blessing from God.” Dressed in a brightly colored traditional outfit, Chief Oliver Ibang calls over his two young children, eager to demonstrate the different languages.

He holds up a yam and asks his daughter what it is called. "It's 'irui'," she says, without hesitating. But in Ubang's "male language" the word for yam, one of Nigeria's staple foods, is "itong." And there are many other examples, such as the word for clothing, which is "nki" for men and "ariga" for women.

"It's almost like two different lexicons," says anthropologist Chi Chi Undie. "There are a lot of words that men and women share in common, then there are others which are totally different depending on your sex. They don't sound alike, they don't have the same letters, they are completely different words."

However, both men and women are able to understand each other perfectly--or as well as anywhere else in the world. This might be partly because boys grow up speaking the female language, as they spend most of their childhoods with their mothers. But by the age of 10, boys are expected to speak the “male language” as evidence of entry into manhood.

Chi-Chi Unde explains: “Men and women operate in almost two separate spheres. It's like they're in separate worlds, but sometimes those worlds come together and you see that pattern in the language as well.”

Possible Preaching Angles: Communication; Gender Differences; Human Nature; Marriage1) There is a mysterious and delightful difference between men and women which God intends for us to recognize and enjoy (Genesis 2:20-25); 2) Wouldn’t it be great if you really knew your spouse’s emotional language and used it to communicate fluently with him or her? 3) In our society, there is an increased blurring of gender differences between male and female. But as this small community illustrates there are natural differences that are instinctively known (Romans 1:18-27).

BBC News “The Village Where Men and Women Speak Different Languages,” (8-23-18)

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