THE MORPHO-SEMANTIC IMPLICATIONS OF ENGLISH LOAN-WORDS FROM AFRICA

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ABSTRACT

This research work examines how the English language adopted words of African origin into its vocabulary. It also investigates the morphological and semantic changes that these words go through in order to thrive successfully in the English lexicon. Most speakers of the English language are oblivious of the inherent changes that take place in the language. They are hardly able to identify the fact that the English language borrows extensively from other languages of the world, including the African languages. Many language users do not take cognizance of the adaptability of languages as one language borrows from another at a given period of time, due to a number of language contact phenomena or influence from the language of borrowing. It has been established in this work that English is traditionally quite disposed to accommodate foreign words, and as it has become an international language spoken by people of many cultures and a number of mother tongues, it has absorbed vocabulary from a large number of other sources so much so that it is often suggested that the lexicon of the English language is the largest in the world. This research work therefore, shows some of the English loanwords from different African languages, including Nigerian languages. For instance, the word “`oke`” which means male, is an English loan-word from a language in South Africa which retains its original meaning in the English dictionary as “a boy or man, or simply, a male”. This word is also used in Igbo language and the meaning is the same but I can’t really say how it came into the Igbo language because this investigation does not cover that area. Similarly, the words, “juju”, “zombie”, “okra” and “banana”, among others, are words borrowed from African languages. These have been exposed and examined in this research work. Using the descriptive research method, the work expatiates the morphological as well as semantic changes that come with the adoption of the foreign words.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title page
Abstract
Table of contents

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background to the Study
1.2       Purpose of the Study
1.3       Statement of the Problem
1.4       Relevance of the Study
1.5       Scope of the Study

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1       Related Literature
2.2       Languages in Contact

CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
3.0       Research Methodology
3.1       Research Design
3.2       Area of Study
3.3       Method of Data Collection
3.4       Method of Data Analysis
3.5       Theoretical Framework

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION
4.0       Introduction
4.1       Data Presentation
4.2       Data Analysis and Interpretation
4.3       Etymological Study of the Loan-Words/The Semantic Implications
4.4       Discussion of Findings

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1       Summary
5.2       Conclusion
5.3       Recommendations
            GLOSSARY
            WORKS CITED


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

1.1        Background to the Study


Languages of the world undergo changes, even though most speakers of the languages are usually oblivious of the inherent changes as they occur. In so far as a linguistic community makes contact with another for one reason or the other, there is the likelihood that people of such linguistic environment share or exchange certain aspects of their being like culture, tradition and language. Nnoje (2003:81) notes that “Language is a spontaneous social activity for expressing thoughts and ideas, emotions, moods, and humours”. Language is a medium by which thoughts are conveyed from person to person and from place to place. Hence, there is hardly a contact between one linguistic environment and another without the transference of some lexical items from one language community to another. However, some linguists noted that one of the most ambiguous terms in the field of morphology is the word, “word itself. Plag (2003: 4-9) identifies five different ways of defining word. According to him, a word can be seen as a separate written entity (the orthographic); as a distinct sound structure (the phonological); as a meaningful unit (the semantic); as a unit within sentence structure (the syntactic); and as a unit with internal integrity (morphemic). Words tend to mobilize themselves so much so that they are easily moved from one environment to another. From all indications, English is traditionally quite well disposed to accommodate foreign words, and as it has become an international language spoken by people of many cultures and a number of mother tongues, it has absorbed vocabulary from a large number of other sources. English does not acquire words from the western languages alone but also incorporates a good number of words that are of African origin into its lexicon. It is often suggested that the lexicon of the English language is the largest in the world. However, it is practically impossible to either approve or disapprove this statement because we encounter so many obstacles when trying to count the total number of English words. It is hard to decidewhat counts as a word, as well as decide on what counts as an English word. Regardless of all these difficulties, it seems probable that English has more words than any other comparable world languages and the reason for this is historical.
Today, the English language has become one of the major world languages. This world-wide expansion of English means that it is now one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, with over four hundred million native speakers, and with roughly the same number of those who speak it as a second language. Bowden (2005) notes that the main causes of that fact are the population expansion after the industrial revolution, the progressive penetration of English into the rest of the non-English speaking British Isles, and especially its wide diffusion outside the United Kingdom to all continents of the world by trade and colonization. Nevertheless, it is very hard to estimate, what is the exact proportion of English words loaned from each particular language, as well as the exact number of languages that have contributed to the lexicon of the English language. It is also part of the cultural history of the English speakers that they have always adopted loan-words from the languages of whatever cultures they have come in contact with. Language speakers come in contact with their neighbours as well as foreigners. As a result, they learn to adopt the speech habits of the people they come in contact with. These speech communities may borrow names of natural and manufactured objects, technical procedures and fashions or spread in the form known as cultural diffusion. In Igbo language for instance, such cultural diffusion is evident in the agricultural sector. Farmers borrow advanced methods of agriculture from the developed countries. Ikara (1987: 122) notes that they equally borrow names of items used in farming like fertilizer (English)-fatalaiza (Igbo), tractor (English)-trakto (Igbo), etc. The English language, Yule (1999) asserts, has adopted a vast number of loan-words from other languages. There is direct borrowing like kindergarten from German, croissant from French, or indirect borrowing like ‘fire-water’ and iron-horse’ which are literary translation of the.....


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