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This research work hinges on the contrastive analysis of Igbo and English affixation. The Igbo and English languages are of different linguistic backgrounds and as such are characterized by differences in the affixation processes. Such differences create problem in second language learning especially in verbal affixation. This study therefore, describes the affixation features of the Igbo and English languages and identifies areas of differences and similarities between the Igbo and English verbal affixation. The work also states the pedagogical implications of the differences in English and Igbo affixation. The data were collected and analysed using the descriptive research method, which were later arranged in tables. The findings of the work reveals that in verbal inflectional affixation, the formation of past tense in Igbo involves a regular –rv form with only two exceptions to the rule. The perfect aspect which makes use of –la. is also regular. But the English language uses the regular –ed form and many other irregular ways for forming their past tense and perfect aspect and this creates problem to the second language learner. Also, the -s form or third person does not exist in Igbo and as such poses a problem to an Igbo learner of the English language. Again, the researcher discovers that in derivational affixation, prefixes in Igbo are limited to a few vowels that are conditioned by the vowel harmony rule and in some cases the syllabic nasals. But in the English language, there are many types of prefixes. The Igbo learner therefore, faces problem of how to master the large number of distinctive prefixes in English verbs. The researcher therefore, recommends that language teacher should concentrate on the areas of differences in both languages while teaching and then use adequate teaching methods and aids in teaching to ensure the learner understands.


Title Page
Abbreviations and Conventions Used
Table of Contents

1.1       Background to the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Purpose of the Study
1.4       Research Questions
1.5       Scope and Limitations of the Study
1.6       Relevance of the Study

2.1       Introduction
2.2       Conceptual Framework
2.2.1    Affixation
2.2.2    Classification of Affixes in Terms of Position
(a)        Prefix
(b)        Suffix
(c)        Interfix
(d)       Infix
(e)        Circumfix
(f)        Extensional Affix
(1)        -wa inceptive suffix
(2)        -cha – complete
(3)        -gwa – retaliative
(4)        -kọ - Associative
(5)        -ta – Directional
(6)        -tu – touch slightly
(g)        Enclitics
2.2.3 Classification of Affixes in terms of Function
(a)        Inflectional Affixes
(b)        Derivational Affixes
2.3       Theoretical Framework
2.4       Empirical Studies
(a)        Empirical Studies on Igbo Affixation
(b)        Empirical studies on English Affixation
2.5       Summary of Literature Review

3.1       Introduction
3.2       Research Design
3.3       Data Collection Technique
3.4       Method of Data Analysis

4.1       Introduction
Research Question I
4.2       The Verbal Derivational Affixation in English
4.2.1 Conversion of Verbs to Nouns
4.2.2 Conversion of Verbs to Adjectives
4.3 The Verbal Inflectional Affixation in English
4.3.1 The Base Form
4.3.2 The –s Form or Third Person Singular Present Form
4.3.3 The Regular Past Tense Form or –ed
4.3.4 The Irregular Past Tense Forms
4.3.5 The English Aspect
A. The Perfect Aspect in English with Irregular ways of Forming it
4.3.6 The Irregular Ways of Forming Present Perfect Aspect
B. The Progressive Aspect/Continuous
i. The Present Progressive Aspect
ii. The Past Progressive Aspect/Past Continuous
4.4       The Verbal Derivational Affixation in the Igbo Language
4.4.1 Prefixation
4.4.2 Reduplication
4.4.3 Prefixation and Suffixation
4.4.4 Prefixation, Interfixation and Reduplication
4.4.5 Circumfixation
4.5 Verbal Inflection in the Igbo Language
4.5.1 The Igbo Tense
4.5.2 The –rv1 Simple Past Tense
4.5.3 The –rv2 Stative Present Tense
4.5.4 The Igbo Aspect
(a) Perfect Affirmative Aspect
(b) The Perfect Negative Aspect with Suffix -beghi/-gh[
4.5.5 The Imperative Affirmative Mood
4.5.6 The Imperative Negative Mood
4.5.7 Negative Inflectional Suffix
(a) The Negative Suffix
(b) The Negative Inflectional Imperative
Research Question II
4.6 The Formation of Past Tense and Perfect Aspect in English
4.7 The Formation of Past Tense and Perfect Aspect in Igbo
4.8 The -s Form or the Third Person Singular Form
4.9 Prefixes in the English Language
(a) Negative Prefixes
(b) Prefixes Indicating Degree or Size
(c) Prefixes of Attitude
(d) Locative Prefixes
(e) Prefixes of Time and Order
4.10 Prefixes in the Igbo Language
(a)        Prefixes {-i/-[} for deriving infinitive
(b)        Prefixes {-a/-e} for deriving present participle
(c)        Prefixes {-m/-n} for deriving nouns from verbs
(d)       Prefixes {-q/-o} {-m/-n} for deriving other form classes
(e)        Syllabic nasal prefixes {-m/-n} for deriving verbal nouns
4.11 The English Language Affixation
4.12 The Igbo Language Affixation
4.12.1  Examples of Igbo Prefixation
4.12.2  Examples of Igbo Suffixation
4.12.3  Examples of Igbo Interfixation
4.12.4  Examples of Igbo Circumfixation
Research Question III
Research Question IV

5.1 Introduction
5.2       Summary of the Findings
5.3       Recommendations
5.4       Conclusion
Works Cited



1.1        Background to the Study

Language is the chief source of communication of ideas. There are some other

ways also, such as dance, music, physical gestures and symbols through which we can communicate ideas. But language is a very common and easy source of communication. It is the basis of human civilization, which would have been impossible without it. As Encyclopaedia Americana puts it:

Language is the principle and richest means of communication used by human beings. Language functions primarily as spoken means of communication. It can, however, also be transferred to other media, most clearly as in the case of writing… In addition, the deaf communities, in which the aural medium is not available, the visual medium is exploited for deaf sign language (727).

Every language has different ways of forming new words that makes it unique.

One of these processes of word formation is called affixation. Affixation is under the

concept of morphology, and morpheme. Morphology is a branch of linguistics that

deal with the internal structure and formation of words. Yule defines morphology as,

“the study of forms” (75). These forms are what we have as morphemes. Morphemes

are the smallest units of grammar.

There are two kinds of morphemes: free morphemes and bound morphemes. A

free morpheme can stand alone and is understandable in isolation. Example, boy. A bound morpheme cannot occur alone example –ish in girlish. Affixation is thus, the process of addition of affixes (bound morphemes) to the existing stem, root, or base morphemes in order to form new words or change the meaning of the existing one. It is one of the productive ways of word building in both the English and Igbo languages. Babarinde (58) states that, “affixation comprises of prefixation, suffixation, interfixation, infixation”. Anagbogu, Mbah and Eme (102) include “circumfixation.” All these are morphological processes. According to www.Sil.Org/Linguistics/Glossayoflingu, “A morphological process is a means of changing a stem to adjust its meaning to fit its syntactic and communicational context.”

Prefixation according to www.Sil.Org/Linguistics/Glossaryoflingui, “is a morphological process whereby a bound morpheme is attached to the front of a root or stem. The kind of affix involved in this process is called a prefix”. Example, in English the prefix –un attaches to the front of the stem selfish to form the word


“Suffixation is a morphological process whereby a bound morpheme is attached to the end of a root or stem. The kind of affix involved in this process is called a suffix”. This is according www.Sil.Org/Linguistics/Glossaryoflingui. Example, in English the past tense suffix –ed attaches to the end of stem walk to form the past tense verb walked.

Interfixation according to www.Sil.Org/Linguistics/Glossaryoflingui, “is a morphological process whereby a bound morpheme attaches in between two roots having the same sounds and meaning. The kind of affix in this process is called an.....

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