Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Beyond Loan Words: Bette-Bendi Ethnic Identity Construction in Liwhu Betiang's beneath the Rubble

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Beyond Loan Words: Bette-Bendi Ethnic Identity Construction in Liwhu Betiang's beneath the Rubble

Article excerpt

Introduction

Sociolinguistic studies have shown that when languages come in contact, there is transfer of linguistic items from one language to another due to "loaning". In linguistic studies, however, "borrowing" has been used to cover "loaning" without paying attention to the sharp contradistinction that exists between the two sociolinguistic notions. While "borrowing" describes "the adoption of individual words or even large set of vocabulary items from one language, register or dialect" (Ezeife 2012: 118), "loaning," according to the Encarta Dictionary (2009), it describes "word [s] borrowed from another language: a word that has become part of everyday usage in another, often with slight modification". In a slightly different description offered by Encarta Dictionary, the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary describes loan word as "a word from another language used in its original form". This definition is quite revealing, as most loan words exist in another language without any form of modification. This is not to imply that certain loan words do not undergo modification and get integrated into the host language. The Latin word, vinum, for example, was modified into Old English as wine. But, this is not the case with macho, a Spanish word loaned into English without modification, and there are many English words that were loaned from French with slight or no modification.

Even when there seems not to be a crystal clear difference between "loaning" and "borrowing", Hock's (1986: 380) definition that "the term 'borrowing' refers to the 'adaptation' of individual words or even large sets of vocabulary items from another language" suffices, as it distinguishes clearly "loaning" from "borrowing". Hock's definition suggests that "borrowing" transcends the use of individual words to include a large set of vocabulary items. Moreover, "loaning," has to do with "the occasional use of words from one language in utterance of another language" (Akindele and Adegbite 1999: 44). This discrepancy in interpretation demonstrates the arbitrariness of linguistic terms and thus difficulties arise regarding what the actual meaning of "borrowing" and "loaning" are. Although this paper adopts the definitions of the Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary and Akindele and Adegbite (op.cit.) because they succinctly account for the contact relationship between English and most African languages, there is need to provide a working definition for this paper. Loaning is, therefore, in this work is seen as the adoption of individual words with single thoughts from one or many Nigerian languages into English with a slight or no modification of any form. It is also important to distinguish between calque and loan word. Calque, also known as lone transfer, describes "a word or expression that enters a language as a direct translation from another" (Encarta Dictionary 2009). Calque is a linguistic term, from the French word meaning "to copy", hence, it is a translation of a word with the same meaning into another language. While calque is a consequence of translation, loaning is not. Moreover, calques require a language user to be bilingual wherein loaning does not have such a requirement.

Kachru (1994) provides two hypotheses about the motivation for loaning in languages. He terms one "deficit hypothesis" and the other "dominance hypothesis". He states that the "deficit hypothesis" presupposes that loaning entail filling linguistic gaps in a language and the primary motivation for loaning is to remedy the linguistic "deficit," especially the lexical resources of a language. This implies that words are loaned or borrowed into another language because there are no equivalents in the host language. This is usually easier when languages belong to the same endogroup. The "dominance hypothesis" presumes that when two cultures come into contact, the direction of culture learning and subsequent word-borrowing is not mutual, but from the dominant to the subordinate. …

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