Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Adaptation of English Consonants by Efik Learners of English

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Adaptation of English Consonants by Efik Learners of English

Article excerpt


One of the linguistic outcomes of the sustained contact of a target language (L2) with a source language (L1) in the course of history is the adaptation and integration of loanwords from the former into the lexicon of the latter. This paper discusses the phonological strategies and parameters for the adaptation of English consonants (which mainly affect nouns) into Efik. The paper discusses the factors that are responsible for borrowing and convergence as well as the linguistic consequences of loanwords in the Efik expanded vocabulary. We submit that though the pattern of borrowing is tailored to agree with the phonological system of the source language, some of the changes are however, as a result of indigenous innovations or prosodic patterns. We argue in this paper that target-source language contact phenomenon is an important source of lexical enrichment of the target language, which has expanded its functional domains to cope with modern challenges. The paper considers the implication of the study for the English language teaching and learning classroom in the Efik non-native environment.

Keywords: loanwords, language contact, consonants, lexical enrichment, Efik, language teaching, learning, bilingualism

1. Introduction

Efik is the language of the Efik people who occupy the coastal areas of the Cross River Basin comprising Akpabuyo, Bakassi, Calabar Municipality, Calabar South, and Odukpani Local Government Areas of Cross River State, Nigeria. Given the long-standing widespread of Efik as the local lingua-franca along the entire South-eastern coast of Nigeria (including the present-day Akwa Ibom), it traces can still be found in places like Uruan, Itu, Oron, Akamkpa, Ugep, Ikom and Obubra among others. The Efik language has been classified as a member of the Lower-Cross family of languages within the Delta-Cross family of the enlarged Benue-Congo group of languages (Greenberg, 1963; Faraclas, 1989). The Efik language had served as a local lingua franca for over a century along the entire Cross River basin, comprising the Southeastern region of Nigeria up to Ogoja and Bekwarra in Upper-Cross River region. The language is spoken by about 3 million second speakers and 1.5 million native speakers (based on 2007 census demographic data). Faraclas (1989, p. 394) describes the Efik language as "one of the best studied languages in Africa" The language is currently enjoying robust linguistic scholarship as it is studied up to the degree level in the area it is spoken predominantly. Scholarly attention was initiated in the language as far back as 1864 when a complete Bible was translated into the language (Cook, 1969, 1986). During this period also, a dictionary was compiled and some linguistic descriptions of the language were undertaken by missionaries, Europeans business men, and later colonial administrators. Every aspect of the language has been widely studied particularly at the Universities of Calabar and Uyo, and a few Colleges of Education around the former South-eastern region. Efik is also widely used in the mass media and religious worship. It is one of the languages in Nigeria with a well planned status and corpus.

The Efik people were some of the earliest indigenous African people along the coast of West Africa to establish contact with the Europeans. Nair (1972) records that the Portuguese and British were the first sets of people to arrive the shores of Efikland. This early contact ignited potential interest in trade, especially in slaves and later in oil palm. The interest later shifted to missionary endeavors, particularly with the arrival of the Scottish Presbyterian Mission (Now Presbyterian Church) in 1862, and later the Catholic mission in the early 18th century in addition to others nativised missions. It is interesting to note that early linguistic works on Efik were carried out by the missionaries. Hugh Goldie, a Presbyterian clergy in Creek Town, Western Calabar devised the first orthography of Efik and also compiled a bilingual dictionary (Efik-English), the first lexicographic project in any indigenous pre-colonial Nigerian language. …

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