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Chapter One
1.0 Introduction/Background of the Study
The importance of language in human society has
attracted great scholarly attention. Various studies have
been carried out with a view to determining the structure
of language. Language is dynamic, this dynamic nature
calls for constant and persistent research on the nature of
every human language, especially the development
processes involved in particular language.
However, there are many ramifications in these
changes in language especially English Language which a
learner of any language must master. For instance
auditory habituation could handicap the effect of a
second language learner, especially when the structure of
the mother tongue (MT) has been internalized for a long
period before learning the second languages.
Based on this assumption, it is necessary to analyze
the similarities and differences between the learner’s
mother tongue (MT) and the target language (TL) with a
view to alleviating the problems in second language
learning (SLL).
Research has shown that there are difficulties
associated with learning a second language, because the
inbuilt structure of the mother tongue influences
learning of the second language. The structure of the first
language, in many cases is at variance with the structure
of the second language. This variance makes the learner
transliterate this target language after the structure of the
first. He transfers the accent of this first language (MT) to
the pronunciation of the second language (TSL). In so
doing, communicative competence is hindered, as the
expected message not successful conveyed. Word-order
pattern of the target language is distorted.
The major concern of this study is to make a”
contrastive analysis of the word-formations of English
and Igbo Verbs”. With reference to Affixation,
Derivational, Inflectional, Verbal Ablaut and verb
Extension. centered on making a “contrastive analysis of
the word-formations of English and Igbo Verbs”. In the
areas of Affixation, Derivational, Inflectional, Verbal
Ablaut and Verb Extension. Verb is defined as “the heart
and life of a sentence which denotes action and deed”
(Ifensor 22). Orji adds that “verbs of the English language
are words which fit into an inflectional verbal paradigm
(20). He further buttresses that:
English verbs are divided into finite and non
finite verbs. Finite verbs consist of lexical
(main) verb and auxiliary verb. Lexical verb is
made up of transitive and intransitive verbs.
Auxiliary verb is divided into two, namely:
primary and modal auxiliary. The non-finite
verb is made up of infinitive, gerund and
participle (21).
Lexical verbs are content words which can be
conjugated or made to undergo morphological contrasts
of tense, person, aspect, mood, and number. Verbs
conjugation or inflection reflect the aforementioned
contrasts as used in speech and writing. Verb inflection
or conjugation delineate time before now (past), time now
(present), and time after now (future): it also appears in
two forms in relating with the personal pronouns. Verbs
matched with the persons take the bare infinitive form
except the first person singular where the verbs take an
Apart from the above, there is the Igbo system of
verb extension through interfix between two verbs. For
instance, the Igbo language admit letters like ‘m’, ‘a’, and
‘r’ etc. to form verbal extension e.g.
No Root word Infix Root
Derivatives meaning
1 anu + m + anu anumanu (hearing)
2 egwu + r+ Egwu egwuregwu (playing)
It can be noted that the English language has two
major affixation processes of prefix and suffix technically
further represented as inflection and derivation, but
interfix, infix and circumfix appear not to be present in
the language. The Igbo language has infix and possibly,
other affixes not found in English. Changes surely will be
creating problems for the Igbo second language learners.
The Igbo second language learners (ISLL) has cause
to make use of the English language, as well as the Igbo
language based on the prevailing situation or occasion.
His effort at using either of the languages may involve
interference of the one with other depending on his ability
to manipulate the language. It is therefore important to
discover the method and structures of both languages
that coincide and those that differ, as these may be
helpful to the second language learners (SLL) and
teachers of this second language alike (TSL).
1.2 Significance of the Study
The basic function of language is communication. A
critical look on language reveals that languages are made
up of simple and complex units of structures which
contain meaning because of the presence of the
predicator (verb) used in such sentences. In addition to
knowing these verbs, it is important to understand how
these verbs are used, and are formed especially by the
second language learners.
(a) This thesis will help the second language learner to
understand the similarities and differences between
the verbs of the first and the target languages.
(b) The research will help the teachers of second
language to predict the difficult situation in
language learning (LL), thus encouraging the
learners to overcome those difficulties.
(c) Course and syllabus designers will find the research
findings helpful in highlighting problem areas and
making them easier for learners.
(d) It provides for proper knowledge of the verb
structures, thus educating teachers and learners
(e) It will also add to the existing knowledge of the
systems of verb formation and serve as reference
material to researchers.
(f) Above all, this study, which is not exhaustive, is
bound to arouse the interests of future researchers
who may want to further the study.
1.3 The Purpose of the Study
The main purposes of this study are:
(1) To carry out a contrastive analysis of the word
formation of English and Igbo Verbs. The research
seeks to find out the grass root cause of the
problems of word- formation with a view to
recommending possible solutions to them.
(2) To identify the verb formation processes in the
English language.
(3) To identify the verb formation processes in the Igbo
(4) To find out whether there is existing differences
between English and Igbo verb formation processes.
(5) To find out whether there are seminaries between
English and Igbo verb formation processes.
1.4 Research Questions
In this research, the following research questions
will guide the study:

  1. What are the verb formation processes in English
  2. What are the verb formation processes in Igbo
  3. To what extent are the verb formation processes
    in the two languages similar and different?
    1.5 Research Hypothesis
  4. There are significant differences that exist between
    English and Igbo verb formation processes.
  5. There are no significant similarities between English
    and Igbo verb formation processes.
    1.6 Definition of terms
    A. Contrastive Analysis:
    Contrastive analysis is a juxtaposition of what a
    learner knows about a language he has mastered and the
    other language he is trying to master.
    B. Word-formation
    Word-formation is the act of forming new words or
    word class through the technical means of inflectional
    morphology, derivational morphology and the
    compositioning. It is the addition of letters to the root
    word (base). This addition may be at the front of it or at
    the end of the base word. The former is called the prefix
    while the later is called the suffix.
    C. Conjugation
    Conjugation is the inflection of verbs, a class of verb
    having similar sets of inflected forms, the act of joining,
    the state of being joined together. (Hanks 353).
    D. Derivatives
    Derivative is a means of attaching morphs or affixes
    to the root word (base), thus producing new word or word
    1.7 Basic Assumptions
    In this study, it is assumed that
    (a) different languages have different verb formation
    (b) Individuals transfer the forms of their native
    language to the learning of the second language.
    (c) Similarities of the languages, make the learning of
    the second language easier.
    (d) Differences in the language create problems for
    the second language learners.
    1.8 The Scope of the Study
    This study is limited to the formation of the English
    and Igbo verb. The aim of this research is to discover if
    there are similarities and differences in the processes of
    word-formation of the verbs of these two languages.
    Concentrating areas for consideration are: affixation,
    derivation inflection of the Igbo language, and verbal
    ablaut of the English language.
    1.9 Research Method and Procedure
    This chapter is primarily meant to present the
    procedures, which would be used by the researcher in
    carrying out the study. It includes the instrument for data
    collection, and method of data analysis. In conducting
    this research, the target population or respondents
    comprise fifty Igbo speaking teachers, teaching the
    English language in five secondary schools in Nnewi
    South L.G.A. These schools are:
  6. Fidelity Secondary School, Unubi.
  7. Trinity Secondary School, Amichi.
  8. Community Secondary School, Ekwulumili
  9. Girls Secondary School, Ukpor and
  10. Boy’s Secondary School, Osumenyi.
    The method used was “contrastive analysis” of verbs
    in the two languages, Igbo and English, applying the rules
    guiding their “word formation”. Therefore, for the
    researcher to ensure proper understanding of the subject
    matter, he collects data from a sample of population and
    contrasts the system languages. The reason for choosing
    this population is that, these teachers use the Igbo
    language as their mother tongue (MT), while they teach
    the English language to the Igbo students studying the
    English language as a second language (ESL).
    1.10 Instrument for Data Collection
    In this study, the instrument used for data collection
    would be subjective questionnaire and direct oral
    interview. This method would be used to augment much
    of the data collected from library. Thus, the population
    selected randomly would be interviewed on the spot.
    1.11 Method of Data Analysis
    A total of fifteen teachers of English language as a
    second language would be interviewed. In analyzing the
    result of the interview, the researcher would explain the
    response of the respondents to the oral interview and
    findings from library research. Thus, the overall result
    would be collected to determine the competence of the


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