|Created by||adherents of the Obɛri Ɔkaimɛ church|
|Setting and usage||Ibibioland, Nigeria|
|Obɛri Ɔkaimɛ script|
|1930s to present|
Medefaidrin (Medefidrin), or Obɛri Ɔkaimɛ, is an artificial language and script created as a Christian sacred language by an Ibibio congregation in 1930s Nigeria. It has its roots in glossolalia ('speaking in tongues').
Speakers consider Medefaidrin to be a 'spirit language'. It was created by two leaders of the church, Michael Ukpong and Akpan Akpan Udofia. They report that the Holy Spirit revealed the words of the language to Ukpong, while Udofia wrote them down. At the time Ibibio was not a written language, and Udofia created a script to write Medefaidrin.
After finalizing the language in 1936, members of the church started a school in which children were instructed in Medefaidrin. This was not tolerated by the British colonial government, who closed the school that same year. Nonetheless, the language continued to be used for church activities, including liturgy and hymns, and for letters and written contracts between members. The language faded from use, but in 1986 Udofia began teaching it again in the church's Sunday school in Ididep. Old manuscripts in the script are in poor condition, and in the 21st century there has been some effort to preserve them.
In structure, the language is largely a relexification of English, though the semantics are closer to the native language of its users, Ibibio. Medefaidrin is a stress-accented rather than tonal language, though this may be changing under Ibibio influence. There are several consonant clusters that do not exist in English. (Ibibio has no consonant clusters.) The definite article is dei, and several prepositions alliterate or rhyme with their English equivalents: su "to", fra "from", nai "by", kin "in". Most words, however, resemble nothing in English or Ibibio, but appear to have been created without a specific underlying system. The morphology is not highly developed, but a few elements have been taken from English, such as the plural in -s (z?). The vigesimal numbering system, however, and the calendar, reflect Ibibio norms. The calendar year contains sixteen four-week months.
The script has upper- and lower-case letters like the English alphabet, but the letters were invented and there is no systematic relationship between glyph and sound. There are a number of arbitrary digraphs, whose pronunciation cannot be determined from their component letters, again as in English.
Medefaidrin script was added to the Unicode Standard in June, 2018 with the release of version 11.0.
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
- Monday B. Abasiattai (1989), "The Oberi Okaime Christian mission: Towards a history of an Ibibio independent church", in Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, 59: 496-516.
- R. F. G. Adams (1947), "Obɛri Ɔkaimɛ: A new African language and script", in Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, 17 : 24-34.
- Dafydd Gibbon, Moses Ekpenyong & Eno-Abasi Urua (2010), "Medefaidrin: Resources documenting the birth and death language life-cycle", in Proceedings of the Seventh conference on International Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'10), May19–21, Valletta, Malta, ISBN 2-9517408-6-7.
- Dafydd Gibbon & Eno-Abasi Urua (2009), "Preserving and understanding the Medefaidrin language (of the Obɛri Ɔkaimɛ ('Church freely given') Ibibio community)" WOCAL 6, Cologne.
- Kathleen Hau (1961), "Oberi Okaime script, texts and counting systems", in: Bulletin de l'Institut Francais d'Afrique Noire. Série B, Sciences humaines, 23: 291-308.
- Akpan Akpan Udofia (1953), "Dictionary, transcriptions and translations of texts", in: Hau, Kathleen (1953), Oberi Okaime Script, Texts and Counting System. Material relating to the Oberi Okaime language of southeastern Nigeria.
- Eno-Abasi Urua (2008), Medefidrin, the 'Spirit' language of the 1920s in Ibibio land
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Medefidrin". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- The week is reported to consist of eight days, but it is not clear if it is 8 by Ibibio or English counting. What is 2 days from now in English is 3 days from now in Ibibio (with today counted as the first day), so starting a new week every 8 days when thinking in Ibibio means every 7 days when thinking in English.
- Rovenchak, Andrij; Gibbon, Dafydd; Ekpenyong, Moses; Urua, Eno-Abasi (2016-04-18). "L2/16-101R: Proposal for encoding the Medefaidrin (Oberi Okaime) script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF). ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2.
- "Unicode 11.0.0". Unicode Consortium. June 5, 2018. Retrieved June 5, 2018.