|Region||Ikwerre, Rivers State|
|(200,000 cited 1973)|
|Dialects||Apara, Ndele, Ọgbakiri, Ọbịọ, Akpor Alụụ, Ịbaa, Elele|
The Ikwerre language is classified as an Igbo dialect. The classification of Ikwerre as an Igbo dialect however is a subject of controversy among some in the Ikwerre community due to political reasons. Based on lexicostatistical analysis, Kay Williamson originally asserted that the Ikwerre, Ekpeye, Ogba, Etche and Igbo languages belonged to the same language cluster, but were not dialects. Subsequent studies by both Williamson and Roger Blench concluded that Igbo, Ikwerre, Ogba and their sister languages apart from Ekpeye form a "language cluster" and that they are somewhat mutually intelligible. There are indications that the Ikwerre society was bilingual even in the pre-colonial Nigeria, with people speaking other Igbo dialects and Ikwerre.
|High||+ATR||i ĩ||u ũ|
|−ATR||ɪ ɪ̃||ʊ ʊ̃|
|Mid||+ATR||e ẽ||o õ|
|−ATR||ɛ ɛ̃||ɔ ɔ̃|
There is also a vowel */ə̃/ which is posited to explain syllabic nasal consonants in accounts of the language which state that Ikwerre has no nasal stops. This sound is realized as [ɨ̃] or a syllabic nasal which is homorganic to the following consonant.
Ikwerre exhibits two kinds of vowel harmony:
The oral consonants [ḅ ʼḅ l ɾ j ɰ w h hʷ] occur before oral vowels, and their nasal allophones [m ʼm n ɾ̃ ȷ̃ ɰ̃ w̃ h̃ h̃ʷ] before nasal vowels. The "non-explosive stops" [ḅ ʼḅ] are not plosives (not pulmonic), and are equivalent to implosives in other varieties of Igbo.
The tap /ɾ/ may sometimes be realized as an approximant [ɹ].
Ikwerre is a tonal language.