A CONTRASTIVE STUDY OF DERIVATION OF NOUNS FROM VERBS IN ENGLISH AND IBIBIO LANGUAGES
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Languages have ways of forming new words. Word formation is a significant area of linguistic studies. Prasad identifies nine processes of word formation in English which include: compounding, duplication, derivation, back formation, conversion, clipping, acronym, blending and multiple formations (64). The concern of this work is on derivation of nouns from verbs which is within the tenets of derivational morphology.
Morphology refers to the study of the internal structure of words and of the systematic form-meaning correspondences between words (Booij 22). Derivation is a morphological process that results in the formation of new lexemes which is achieved through affixation, according to Lyons quoted in Bauer (27). Generally, derivation in linguistics is a process of forming a new word on the basis of an existing word. This could be from any word class to another. But we are interested in how nouns are derived from verbs. For instance, from ‘govern’ and ‘fail’, we derive ‘government’ and ‘failure’ respectively. It, therefore, stands in contrast to inflection which forms grammatical variants of the same word as with determine/determines/determining/ determined (Crystal 138).
The fact that there exist different languages in the world is a clear pointer and indication that the structures of languages differ throughout the levels of linguistic analysis. Besides, languages belong to families and are therefore grouped considering their typologies and genealogies. The Ibibio and English languages are two distinct languages belonging to the Niger-Congo language family (Udoh 34) and the Indo European language family (Encyclopedia Americana 731) respectively. Since this work is a contrastive study of derivation of nouns from verbs in English and Ibibio languages, it is pertinent to introduce Ibibio for clarity purposes, considering the fact that English is a world language.
The Ibibio is both an ethnic group and a language within Akwa Ibom State which occupies the South-South geo-political zone of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This ethnic group constitutes the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria, after the three major ones with a population of about four million. They speak Ibibio as their mother tongue and inhabit the South Eastern part of the country (Essien ix). It is the largest ethnic group in AkwaIbom State with fifteen out of the thirty-one local government areas speaking this language. As such, Ibibio is regarded as the state language (Udoh 35).
Genetically, the Ibibio language belongs to the Benue – Congo sub-family which in turn can be traced to the Niger-Congo family, one of the largest language families in Africa, according to Greenberg’s classification. By this classification,
Ibibio shares a common ancestry with the lower cross group of languages as Udoh (34) asserts.
On the historical development, the Ibibio language is as old as the people, dating back to centuries ago but with a recent history as a written language, according to Essien (x), after much frustrated attempts to attain orthography. Several attempts at making Ibibio a written language met with setback. Thus, the language remained unwritten and unofficial for decades until 1983, when with the sponsorship of an Ibibio cultural organization, Akwa Esop Imaisong Ibibio, the language received express approval of its orthography by the Ministry of Education of the then Cross River State of which Akwa Ibom was a part.
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