Igbo/English: CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS (I)
Igbo/English: CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS (I)
-Martha Iloh E.
The study of language encompasses many spheres of life. The scientific study of language is called linguistics. In linguistics, there are so many levels and branches. These branches and levels have areas of concentration of which one is contrastive analysis.
Contrastive analysis is an area of linguistics that contrasts between a pair of language or pairs of languages. In contrasting of languages, any level or system of language is taken.
In this study, the concentration of this study is on parts of speech or word class called ‘quantifiers’.
Language is specie-specific. It is the sole right of humans to use language and it is the only characteristics that distinguish humans from other mammals/animals. Language is a symbolic system based on pure or arbitrary convention ... infinitely extendable and modifiable according to changing needs and conditions of the speaker. Robins (1985). For Robins, every language is a symbol system that is either written or spoken which must have a system, and this system is arbitrary which means that there is no direct relationship between the signifier and the signified. Example the word ‘dog’ is a name of a domestic animal in English but has the following names in other languages; ‘nkita’ in Igbo language, ‘Chien’ in French, ‘pepeye’ in Yoruba language. These names have no direct relationship with the animal they represent for if they do, there should be the same name for it in all languages. He went further to say that this arbitrariness in language must be conventional. Conventionality of language means that the language used must be a system of codes acceptable to the users of the language. He equally agrees that these conventional symbols must be extendable and modifiable.
For communication to be effective, there are word classes/parts of speech that have to come together to make up words, phrases, clauses and sentences.
Some parts of speech include;
(i) . Noun
(v) . Pronouns
(viii). Determiners (quantifiers)
All parts of speech are important but our concern in this research is on ‘quantifiers’ of Igbo and English languages. The contrastive analysis of Igbo and English quantifiers.
Quantifiers are words or phrases which are used before a noun to indicate an amount or quantity. Examples are: some, many, a lot, a little of, a glass of, etc
CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS/CONTRASTIVE STUDIES/CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
The theoretical foundation for what became known as contrastive analysis hypothesis was formulation in Lado’s ‘linguistic across culture’ (1957). In his book, Lado claimed that, ‘those elements which are similar to the (learner’s) native languages will be simple for him and elements that are different will be difficult for him’
While this was not a novel suggestion, Lado was the first to provide a comprehensive theoretical treatment and to suggest a systematic set of technical procedures for the contrastive study of languages. This involves describing the language (using structuralist linguistics), comparing them and predicting learning difficulties.
Chatcher (1974) defines Contrastive Analysis (C.A) ‘’as a more detailed, point to point analysis of the phonological, morphological, syntactic and other subsystems of language.
According to Henry Sweet, C.A. is used to show the relationship between native language (L1) and the foreign language (L2) or between languages being contrasted. The reason for this is to bring out the areas of similarities and differences in order to aid language teaching and learning.
Major Assumptions of C. A.
C.A believes that the major problem in language learning is mother tongue interference and this justifies the looking into the structures of the language to be contrasted to bring out the areas of similarities and differences because it is the major believe of C.A., that the areas of similarities will not pose a challenge to the learner but the areas of differences will pose a challenge to the learner. This will lead to interference and transfer from the mother tongue to the foreign language.
2 C.A. is behaviouristic in nature: it believes that learners exhibit the same behaviour in learning of language and therefore will transfer forms, meanings and habits from L1 into L2
3. C.A. is predictive in nature: it does not describe rather it prescribes
4. C.A. is linguistic apriori: it is conducted before teaching and learning begins etc.
Criticism/shortfalls of C.A.
1. C.A. does not recognise language, aptitude and attitude of a learner as a problem in language learning.
2. C.A. does not consider the method of presentation of the target language as a major challenge, i.e. lack of methodology, absence of effective measurement etc.
Benefits of C.A.
1. It aids language teaching and learning.
It helps in preparation of teaching and learning materials
It helps in preparation of school and language curriculum
It helps in preparation of audio lingual method
2. C.A. helps to highlight variations in languages and dialects
3. it helps in developing orthography (conventional writing system of a language)
4. it helps in machine translation: the knowledge of two or more languages will aid in developing the
software that will aid in translation.
QUANTIFIERS IN IGBO LANGUAGE/MKPỌKỌTA
-Martha Iloh E.
MKPỌKỌTA bụ otu n’ime nkejiasụsụ e nwere n’asusu Igbo nke na-egosi ka ihe ha maọbụ e si ezipụta ụbara.
A bịa n’asụsụ Igbo mkpọkọta ebughi ibu dịka o siri dị n’asụsụ bekee (quantifiers in Igbo are not as numerous as they are in English language).
Some of the quantifiers we have in Igbo language are: obere (small, little, few), nnukwu (big, much), numbers/ọnụọgụgụ, dum, niile, ncha ncha (at all), ọtụtụ (many), ụfọdụ (some), ukwu (bunch), Karama, ogologo dgz (etc.).
Quantifiers in Igbo language, are also used to quantify nouns and pronouns.
Mkpọaha bụ aha njikọta maka ihe niile nwere ike ịrụ ọrụ dị ka aha n’okwu maọbụ n’ahịrịokwu.
2.2.1. quantifiers vs count and non count nouns in Igbo Language
In this research, we take count nouns to mean nouns that can be counted also in Igbo language and non count nouns to mean nouns that cannot be counted.
Importantly, in Igbo language, almost all quantifiers go with both count and non count nouns. Examples;
Otu ube ‘a pear’ ube abụọ ‘two pears’
Otu oche ‘a chair’ oche abụọ ‘two chairs’
Otu akwụkwọ ‘a book’ akwụkwọ abụọ ‘two book etc
Issues arising from the above examples:
1. In Igbo language, numerals are used in marking plurals of count nouns (common nouns/aha igwe). Whenever these nouns are mentioned without a numeral attached, the hearer understands the speaker to mean ‘one’.
Bunye m oche ‘give me a chair
Nye m ube ‘give me a pear
Gotere m akwụkwọ ‘buy me a book
The English translation above is likely grammar that could be produced by the Igbo learner of English not as a result of not knowing the English language, but as a result of interference and transfer from the mother tongue.
2. In Igbo language, the position of the quantifier comes after the noun it qualifies.
3. A wrong form of grammar is likely to be produced by the learner. Examples.
I bought two book from the shop
He gave me two pear
He bought five chair
The above grammatical error can be seen clearly as the case of transfer from L1 to L2.
More examples of pluralization in Igbo with regards to quantifiers ‘ogologo’ (tall), obere(small), nnukwu (big).
Nouns Nouns Pluralisation
Obere mmadụ Obere mmanụ Obere mmanụ
Obere ụlọ Nnukwu ụlọ Ọtụtụ, nnukwu, obere ulo
Ogologo mmadụ Ogologo ụlọ Ọtụtụ, ogologo, mmadụ ụlọ
Issues from the above examples
1. The quantifiers ‘ogologo’ tall/long in Igbo language has no restricted use as it has in English. In Igbo ‘ogologo’ can be used for both living and non living things. The learner is likely to produce the following grammars;
i. Ahụrụ m ogologo ụlọ ogologo nwoke kwụ n’akụkụ ya: I saw a tall house with a tall man standing beside it.
ii. Nwata ahụ toro ogologo: that boy is long etc
2. the quantifiers ‘nnukwu’ (big), and ‘obere’(small, little, few), have no restricted use as they do in English. This can give rise to the following incorrect grammar;
i. Biko kunye m nnukwu ofe: please give me big soup
ii. Achọrọ m obere mmanụ maka ya bụ ji: I need small oil for the yams
iii. Ọ rụrụ obere nnukwu ụlọ: He built a small/big house.
2.2.2. Quantifiers vs collective nouns in Igbo.
Some examples of collective nouns in Igbo include;
Oyoko (bunch), ikpo (heap), odo (plantation of) etc
Collective noun Glossary Pluralization Glossay
ọyọ igodo Bunch of key Ọyọ ọtụtụ Igodo Bunch of keys
Ụdọ akwụoru Piniapple orchard Ọdọ ọtụtụ akwụoru Orchards of pineapple
Ikpo ahịhịa Heap of rubbish Ọtụtụ ikpo ahịhịa Heaps of rubbish
1. In pluralization of Igbo collective nouns, there are no inflections as is obtainable in English language.
2. Irregularity in the placement of plural markers of collective nouns in English as seen in the table above.
ANALYSIS OF QUANTIFIERS IN ENGLISH AND IGBO LANGUAGES
Areas of similarities
1. Agreement in definition: both languages agree to the definition of quantifiers as being a word or phrases used to indicate quantify
2. In both languages, quantifiers are used to quantify nouns.
3. Numerals are used as quantifiers in both languages. Example (English), two (2) books, 3 books, 5 women etc. Examples in Igbo: Akwukwo abuo, akpa ise, aka ato, etc.
4. Both languages agree on the same definition of nouns
5. Issue of pluralisation exists in both languages.
3.0 Areas of difficulties
It is very important to look at these areas of differences since C.A. believes that these areas will pose challenges for the learner. Some of these areas of differences are:
1. Position and placement of quantifiers
In English language, quantifiers appear before the nouns they quantify. Examples, a pair of shoes, a drone of bees, a choir of angels, etc but in Igbo, some quantifiers appear after the noun especially in the case of numerals. Example, ọkpa ato, obi abụọ, anya ise dgz.
2. Adjectives as quantifiers
In Igbo language, adjectives are used as quantifiers. Examples, mmadu ogologo/ogologo mmadụ, nnukwu/buru ibu, obere dgz. This area of difference has posed and is still posing serious challenges to the Igbo learner of English. The Igbo learner of English is likely to produce the following ungrammatical grammars;
i. All small boys should come here instead of ‘all the boys should come here’
ii. The man is a big man instead of ‘the man is a rich man’.
3. Pluralization vs numerals
In English language, numbers (2, 3, 4 etc.), come before the noun as said earlier, where the nouns they quantify receive plural markers by inflection whereas in Igbo language, when numerals are used, the nouns remain unchanged. E.g Ụgbọala abụọ, Ụdara ise etc.
This difference has also posed a challenge to the Igbo learner of English. The following wrong grammars are likely to be produced:
Ọ zụtara akwụkọ abụọ: He bought two book.
O nwere akpa ise: He has five bag
O riri ugboro stọ: She ate three time, etc.
4. Irregularities in pluralization
Irregularities abound in English language in the issues of pluralization. English language has the following forms as plural markers.
‘-s’ ‘-es’ ‘-ies’ ‘-en’ Zero morph
Boy -boys Box - boxes Lady –ladies Ox -oxen Woman –women
Girl - girls Tomato–Tomatoes Body- bodies Man – men
Books -books Potato -potatoes Baby –Babies
Head - heads Cargo –cargoes
Key- keys Mosquito –mosquitoes
These irregularities as shown above are likely to pose great challenges to the Igbo learner of English.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
Quantifiers cannot be removed from word classes in both languages and as such serious attention has to be given to it if the orientation of transfers and interference as predicted by C.A. must be overcome.
C.A. is of great importance to linguistics and this is to say that no matter the shortfall of C.A., most of its assumptions still hold water.
The quantifiers of English and Igbo languages are compared on the ground that every natural language has a basis for comparison.
Some of the challenges that are likely to pose a problem to the Igbo learner of English are
i. The irregularities in English language especially in its pluralisation
ii. Greater number of quantifiers abound in English language and these will pose a challenge to the Igbo learner because the number of quantifiers in Igbo language is very few or limited.
C.A. has proved to be an important aspect of linguistics and it has proven some of its assumptions to be true.
For both the languages to be learnt effectively, the areas of differences should be mastered and the areas of similarities should not be generalised because individual habit of language learners differ.
It is an established fact that no language can be studied in isolation and since language is a serious tool in the hands of the communicator, there should be no breach of any form in communication. For effective communication, learning and teaching to be achieved the following are likely solution to the problems enumerated earlier;
i. The Language teacher or instructor should be aware of these differences
ii. The students/learners should be made to see these areas of differences and if possible the reasons for the differences should be explained.
iii. The students having made to know the difference should be drilled for a long time so as to overcome the challenges.
iv. The teacher should be aware of any environmental factors influencing foreign language learning.
v. The approach of the teacher to language teaching should be a simple one so that the students wouldn’t be scared of learning as this might lead to avoidance of such differences by the learners.
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Ofomata E.C (2010), Ndezu Utoasusu Igbo nke Senior Sekọndịrị: format publishers (Nig) ltd, Enugu.
Syal and Jindal D. V., (2012) An Introduction to linguistics, grammar and Semantics, PHI learning private ltd. New Jersey.