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MORPHPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF IGBO VERBS -Rich. N. Ekegbo

1. Introduction

The word morphology which can literary be interpreted as science of shape of words goes to show in grammar, verbal variations and verbal formation.
In Igbo language, the meaning of a sentence owe much to the form of the verb in the sentence. Therefore, before the definition of morphology is attempted, consideration will be given to the word “morpheme”. In simple terms, morpheme is “The smallest meaningful linguistic unit”. In English Language we have as examples words like apple cat, help, fling, lens. We also have such affixes like -er, -ing, -s; pre-, and un-. In Igbo language we have words like ji, di, chi, while we have affixes like i-; -de, -be, -ri,-re.
In a simple way, morphology is the study of words and the rules for word formation in a language. But before the full morphological analysis of some Igbo verbs will be attempted here, consideration will be given to the views of some linguists on the category.

2. Literature Review
The peculiarities that exist in languages calls for proper review of the categories of every language. However, this is hardly possible to do at a stretch. Generally, there are some basic aspects of language that must not be overlooked. The concept at stake, morphology, always calls the attention of the linguists who believe that one must delve further into the meaning of the word ‘morpheme’ to understand morphology better. It is interesting to note that the word “morphology” has to with linguistics but more in Biology. However, this word points to “shape” in these two branches of knowledge. The Free Dictionary (2014) defines morphology as the branch of biology that deals with the form and structure of organisms without considering the function. However, what is important to the scholar is its definition of the word in linguistic context. In this context, the Dictionary defines the word as the patterns of word formation in a language, including inflection, derivation, and compound formation. By implication, it means that words can change or be made to change in language depending on how it is manipulated. This is very important because language is dynamic. As such this dynamism must reflect in every aspect of its usage. The Collins Dictionary (2014) added that it (Linguistics) is the form and structure of words in a language, especially the consistent patterns of inflection, combination, derivation and change, etc, that may be observed and classified. The changes are to be observed and followed by classification of the observed changes. It is through these changes that the scholar will know what approach to apply next. This is a position which is very much supported by Random House Kemenman by defining morphology as the patterns of word formation in a language, including inflection, derivation, and compound formation.
Francis Katamba, believes that morpheme is the minutest strata into which a word can be made. Thus Francis Katamba (1993:20) argues that the term morpheme is used to refer to the smallest indivisible units of semantic content or grammatical function which words are made of. His argument can only appeal if it is considered for scientific investigation, since in science nothing is taken for granted. But however plausible his argument seems, it was viewed differently by Aronoff (1976:8-10) who argues that it is the word in its entirety rather than the morpheme per se that must be meaningful. But whether one takes the point of view of Katamba or that of Aronoff, the fact remains that words in form of morphemes in itself or morphemes in the shape of words needs some tactical analysis if one must come up with the right meaning of morphology. And this will make one fall back to the definition of morphology by Katamba (1993:19), who defines it as the study of word structure. This his definition of morphology as study suggests that it is like a science that is analyzable. It is in this context that one can agree with Chomsky (1957: 49-50) that what is true of science in general is also true in linguistics.

The word morphology which can literary be interpreted as science of shape of words goes to show in grammar, verbal derivations, verbal variations and verbal formation. When talking about words in its form, many linguists fail to express the negative aspect of words, and this means that all the definitions made in that aspects suggests words in positive form or implicitly so. The science Wikipedia (Science Wikipedia: 2014), observes that in law, no proposition is both true and false. This also suggests that when making analysis, the positive and negative aspects of the word must also be considered. And inclining towards bridging this gap, Kahrel (1996:70) observes from a forty language sample that there are some negative constructions in languages that have negation markers different from that used in the expression of standard negation. Igbo language which is the language in question here, is not an exception to this. Emenanjo (1978:196) did not discuss negation in Igbo as a separate topic but in the context of his treatment of Igbo sentence types and verb forms. And this leaves some doubt to any who tends to take morphology as the final study of words in all strata.

3. Igbo verbs in the context of morphology
Before the morphological processes of Igbo verbs are considered, the vowel harmony and the rules of the vowel harmony must be understood. The Igbo vowels are eight in number which are A, E, I, Ị, O, Ọ, U, Ụ. For easy comprehension and according to their rule, they are divided into A and B groups of four. The vowels in group, A which is called the Otu Ụdamfe, because the vowels in the group have light sound, is made up of A, Ị, Ọ, Ụ. The vowels in the B group, which is called Otu Ụdaarọ, because they have heavy sound is made up of E, I, U, O. According to the rule, all the vowels that are contained in any infinitive word in Igbo must come either from A group or from the B group which are also called the Minus Advanced Tongue Rule (-ATR) and the Plus Advanced Tongue Rule (+ATR).

The Igbo Vowels and Their Groups
The summary of the Igbo vowels and their groups can be seen thus:
Ụdaume dị n’asụsụ Igbo

A, Ị, Ọ, Ụ, E, O, I, U

Otu Ụdamfe Otu Ụdaarọ

Some examples in Otu Ụdamfe are: Ịchị, Ịsụ, Ịmị, Ịkụ, Ịdụ, Ịzụ, Ịkwụ, Ịrụ, Ịlụ, Ịñụ
Some examples Otu Ụdaarọ are: Idi, Idu, Izi, Iri, Ichi, Ibi, Iti, Ikwu, Igwu, Iji.

All the mentioned verbs and other carefully chosen regular verbs follow the same morphological processes and influence the sentences in which they appear in as such. These can all be seen in the tables below. Table one below tables the listed infinitive verbs under Ụdamfe and Ụdaarọ and how they are made to change into verb root and participles.

References
Aronoff, M. 1976. Word Formation in Generative Grammar. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press
Chomsky, N. 1057. Syntactic Structures. The Hague: Mouton.
Emenanjo, E. N. 1978. Elements of Igbo Grammar. Ibadan: Oxford University Press
Kahrel, P. 1996. Aspect of Negation. Ph. D. Thesis: University of Amsterdam
Katamba, F. 1989. An Introduction to Phonology. London: Longman
Siegel, C. D. 1994. Topics in English Morphology. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Internet sources
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/morphology

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