HISTORICOLINGUISTIC STUDY OF CONVERGENCE AND DIVERGENCE IN THE TIVOID LANGUAGES PHYLUM

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ABSTRACT


This study examined convergence and divergence among the Tivoid languages phylum from the historicolinguistic perspective. The study was based on four selected Tivoid languages, namely: Tiv and Utank in Nigeria, Oliti and Ugare in Cameroun. The purpose was to ascertain the linguistic connection between the Tivoid in Nigeria and their counterparts in Cameroun and determine the degree of divergence or convergence among the languages. The specific objectives of the study are to examine: (i) convergence among the selected languages using lexical cognates, (ii) mutual intelligibility among the selected languages, (iii) divergence among the selected languages and (iv) the factors responsible for convergence and divergence among the selected languages. Applying the framework of lexicostatistics, a 200-item wordlist was elicited from each of the languages using the Swadesh wordlist. The Recorded Text Testing (RTT) was conducted across the selected languages to provide the data for mutual intelligibility test. In addition, oral interview was conducted to provide additional linguistic and sociolinguistic information needed to complement the data obtained from the wordlists and the RTT. Probable cognates were selected from the comparative wordlists using “inspection method”, while the analysis was done using percentages and standard deviation to determine similarities and dissimilarities. The result showed that there was low percentage of lexical cognates/similarity which is an indication of apparent divergence among the selected languages. This is affirmed by the listing of the selected Tivoid languages on the ethnologue as separate languages in spite of the perceived similarities at the morpho-phonological level. Divergence in the Tivoid languages is both internally and externally motivated resulting in shift or change in the languages. The internal triggers are from internal pressures independent of external interference. The externally motivated change results from non-linguistic pressures especially migration and contact. In both cases, the resultant effect was convergence with or divergence from the dominant language. The mutual intelligibility test indicated low intelligibility among the speakers of the selected Tivoid languages. There was also high level of bilingualism involving Tiv, Utank, Oliti and Ugare as a result of high social network within these speech communities.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
List of Figures
List of Tables
Abstract

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background to the study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objectives of the Study
1.4       Research Questions
1.5       Significance of the Study
1.6       Scope of the study
1.7       Limitations of the study

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF LITERATURE
2.1 Theoretical Studies (review)
2.1.1    Neogrammarian Hypothesis
2.1.2 Structural Model of Language Development
2.1.3 Transformational Generative Model
2.1.4    Mass Comparison Method
2.1.5  An Overview of Methods for Comparing and Analysing Languages
2.1.5.1 Linguistic Maps and Atlases
2.1.5.2 The Blair Method
2.1.6    Lexicostatistical Theory
2.1.7 Glottochronology
2.1.8  Summary of Theoretical Studies
2.2       Empirical Studies
2.3       Theoretical Framework
2.4       Summary of Literature Review

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1       Preamble
3.2       Research Design
3.3       Team and Timing
3.4       Area of Study
3.5       Target Population
3.6       Method of Data Collection
3.6.1    Instruments of data collection
3.6.2    Validation of Instruments
3.6.3    Sampling Techniques
3.6.4    Field Work
3.6.5    Library Sources
3.6.6    Internet Sources
3.6.7    Collation
3.7       Method of Data Presentation
3.8       Method of Data Analysis

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION ON CONVERGENCE
4.1       Preamble
4.2.      Convergence
4.2.1    Comparative Wordlists
4.3       Selection of Cognates
4.3.1    Exact Matches
4.3.2    Adjectives
4.3.3    Derivational Suffixes
4.3.4    Extra Syllable(s)
4.3.5    Minor Phonetic Differences
4.4       Recorded Text Testing (RTT)
4.4.1    Batch 1            A (i), B (i) & C (i): RTT from Tiv to Utank, Oliti and Ugare
4.4.2    Batch 1            A (ii), B (ii) C (ii): RTT from Utank, Oliti and Ugare to Tiv
4.4.3    Batch 2            A (i) & B (i): RTT from Utank to Oliti and Ugare
4.4.4    Batch 2            A (ii) & B (ii): RTT from Oliti and Ugare to Utank
4.4.5    Batch 3            A (i): RTT from Oliti to Ugare
4.4.6    Batch 3            A (ii): RTT from Ugare to Oliti
4.4.7    Summary of Total Average Percentage Intelligibility Test Scores
4.5 Discussion and Findings on Convergence
4.5.1 Convergence among the Selected Tivoid Languages
4.5.1.1 Tiv and Utank
4.5.1.2 Tiv and Oliti
4.5.1.3 Tiv and Ugare
4.5.1.4 Utank and Oliti
4.5.1.5 Utank and Ugare
4.5.1.6 Oliti and Ugare
4.6 Findings in Relation to Convergence
4.7 Findings in Relation to Mutual Intelligibility

CHAPTER FIVE: DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION ON DIVERGENCE
5.1 Preamble
5.2. Divergence Among the Selected Tivoid Languages
5.2.1    Comparative Wordlists
5.2.2    Recorded Text Testing (RTT)
5.2.3    Total Average Percentage Unintelligibility
5.3 Discussion and Findings on Divergence
5.3.1    Divergence Among the Selected Tivoid Languages
5.3.1.1 Tiv and Utank
5.3.1.2 Tiv and Oliti
5.3.1.3 Tiv and Ugare
5.3.1.4 Utank and Oliti
5.3.1.5 Utank and Ugare
5.3.1.6 Oliti and Ugare
5.3.1.7 Findings in Relation to Divergence
5.4 Factors responsible for convergence and divergence among the Tivoid languages
5.4.1.   Sociolinguistic Factors
5.4 .2   Migration
5.4.3    Geographical separation
5.4.4    The French plebiscite of 1961
5.5.1    Linguistic factors
5.5.2    Language contact
5.6       Social networks
5.7       Findings in relation to factors responsible for convergence and divergence

CHAPTER SIX: FINDINGS, SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
6.1 Findings
6.1.1    Findings in relation to convergence
6.1.2    Findings in relation to mutual intelligibility
6.1.3    Findings in relation to divergence
6.1.4    Findings in relation to factors responsible for convergence and divergence
6.2 Summary and conclusion
References

Appendix


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1         Background to the study
Language is by all means the most enduring and about the most dynamic artifact of human history. Language is an enduring artifact because apart from being human specific, it is an integral part of human culture, and therefore, as old as human existence. Language is said to be dynamic in the sense that it changes as the society in which man lives and speaks language changes. It is this dynamism which reflects the nature and character of language that has given scholars/researchers sufficient cause to search and attain self knowledge about the nature and manner of change that takes place in language.
According to Agbedo (2009:7), historical linguistics (also called diachronic linguistics) accounts for the development and changes that take place in languages. Essentially, historical linguistics focuses on five basic areas which are; describing and accounting for observed changes in languages, reconstructing the prehistory of languages and determining their relatedness, developing general theories about how and why language changes, describing the speech communities and studying the history of words. Since the quest for knowledge through scholarly research heightened, human knowledge has continued to grow deeper, thus leading to further breakdown of disciplines into more focused areas of study. This development gave rise to the emergence of comparative linguistics (originally called comparative philology) regarded as a branch of historical linguistics. It is principally concerned with comparing languages in order to establish their historical relatedness.
Agbedo (2007:7) posits that languages may be related by convergence through borrowing or genetic descent. Genetic descent implies a common origin or proto-language, and comparative linguistics aims to construct language families, to reconstruct proto-languages and specify the changes that have resulted in documented languages.

From the early development of historical and comparative linguistics, this subfield of linguistics mainly focused on the classification of the Indo-European languages, many of which have had written histories. However, the situation is not the same with the Niger–Congo language family where the comparative method has been sparingly used, leaving the bulk of languages under it unclassified; even where it is applied, lack of sustained efforts has failed to tie the language family together, therefore, such result often failed to receive wide acceptability. Olson (2004) decried this situation thus:
While the comparative method has occasionally been applied to small language families within Niger- Congo, particularly Bantu, its use has so far been neglected in tying the language family together as a whole. A comprehensive reconstruction of Niger-Congo, including the establishment of sound laws, remains the major future task in Niger-Congo classification



Therefore, there is need for a paradigm shift to studying the highly endangered languages of the sub-Saharan Africa, especially the Tivoid sub-language group of Bantu extraction. The Tivoid languages phylum is not well studied. Therefore, majority of languages in this group cannot be used for wider communication , especially as they have no written orthorgraphy and are not even known beyond there enclave. This has the propensity of affecting the enthnolinguistic vitality perception of their speakers thereby making them susceptible to endangerment.......

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