Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Morphological Processes in Anaku Igbo: Situating Universality

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Morphological Processes in Anaku Igbo: Situating Universality

Article excerpt

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Linguistic inquiries into the operations of human communication reveal the phenomena of language universalities or the common core of all languages. The parameters of the inquiries vary as well as the language of inquiry, and as such all languages deserve these inquiries into their variations to improve communication. According to Nwachukwu (2003) such inquiries are best done and should be done by native linguists of the languages to make for an accurate and detailed description of the individual languages, a view that speaks for the relevance of this study.

Communication is meaning-dependent, and these meanings depend on the make-up of words which are the morphemes which in turn are environment dependent. Morphemes are those basic elements of meaning that are arbitrarily united which cannot be analyzed into smaller or simpler elements. They are grouped into free morphemes (root words) that can stand on their own; the bound morphemes that cannot stand on their own, and the zero morphemes - those unseen reflections in a word where no inflectional essence is seen, like in the changing of some verbs into nouns in English language. The study of these morphemes form an important part of linguistics as it is an inquiry that serves as the bridge between syntax and phonology (Radford 1997:83).

Morphology can simply stand for the structure of something's parts, which is the structure of anything made up of interconnected or interdependent parts. In Biology, it is the study of the forms and structures of organisms. It is therefore necessary to have a working definition in this linguistic research to mean the study of word formation including the patterns of inflections and derivations in a language. Thus morphological processes are those mechanisms employed by speakers of a language to change or modify the meaning of particular base-forms, as well as form new words. It involves adding, subtracting or modifying the base-forms of words in a language to suit its syntactic and communicational contexts.

This research was conceived from the perspective of an online handout in the official website of the John Paul II Catholic University of Linking ( - Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawla II) which discusses universal morphological processes. This study uses the nomenclatures of this PDF handout to analyze the morphological processes in Anaku Igbo to prove or disprove the universality of the processes.

Area of Study

The area of this study is Anaku in Ayamelum, Anambra State, Nigeria, a language group (a variety of Igbo language) of about sixteen thousand (16,000) inhabitants according to the 2006 Nigerian census projection. This work intends to expose the morphological processes available within this Igbo language group in comparison with some universal morphological processes as discussed in the handout.

Theoretical Framework

This study is based on the theory of morphology that has dominated the area of linguistics most of this century which states, "That all morphological contrasts consist of segmentable materials correlating on a one-to-one basis with meaning contrasts . . . segmentable because they reflect from either suffixation or prefixation (rarely infixation)" Bender (2000).

This assumes that all languages have segmentable morphemes as their smallest meaningful unit, as such have affixation as the only morphological process while taking other processes like reduplication as special affixation. Though some languages like the Chinese may not fit into this, majority of world languages fit in.

Morphological Processes: An Overview

Generally, linguists view morphological process from two perspectives: inflectional (the grammatical process by which such forms as past tense, plural and present participles etc. are arrived at); the derivational morphology (those processes whereby new words are formed from existing ones), (Agbedo 2000; Finch 2000). …

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