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PROJECT TOPIC- EFFECTS OR INFLUENCES L2 HAS ON L1: SPECIFICALLY, AT THE SYNTACTIC AND THE SEMANTIC LEVELS

PROJECT TOPIC- EFFECTS OR INFLUENCES L2 HAS ON L1: SPECIFICALLY, AT THE SYNTACTIC AND THE SEMANTIC LEVELS

CHAPTER ONE

  • INTRODUCTION

1.1   Background to the Study

Language has been recognized as the vehicle through which, ideas, thoughts, messages, information, and their likes are passed on, or communicated to others. In this regard Agbedo (2000:1) maintains that the concept of language is the system of rules and principles of human communication. He further maintains, “perhaps, the most distinctive defining characteristics of language as a method of communicating ideas, emotions, feelings and desires by means of a system of vocal and sound symbols are its humanness and non-instinctiveness, as well as its place in human society as one of the most necessary and intricate of all social skills”.

English is today in daily use by not less than 800 million people all over the world (Todd and Hancock, 2005)­    and only half of them are native speakers of the language (quirk 1995:3). This figure ranks it together with Chinese, Hindi-Urdi, Russian and Spanish as the world’s most widely used language (Crystal, 1987:287). What marks English out from other global language in each of these three categories – English as a native language (ENL), English as a second language (EFL), (see Gorlach, 1999; McArthur, 2001; Kachhru, 19986; Schemed, 1991; Quirk, 1995; and Igboanusi, 2002). It may be necessary to mention that Nigeria, like a few other countries in Africa (eg Ghana, Kenya, Gambia etc) belongs to the ESL countries,

Researchers have encountered substantial difficulties in explaining and predicting the influence of second language (L2) can have in the process of the first language (L1) acquisition, particularly, in the area of lexical use. The second language (L2) influence can emerge both as formal and semantic effects Scott Jarvis (1997) examines the semantic – conceptual aspects of the second language. The influence, according to Scott Jarvis, the second language has on the first language is with in-group similarities, between-group differences, and congruencies in users: use of the first and second language (Word choice).

Agbedo (2007) avers strongly that the level of influence English language has made on Igbo language is somewhat worth noting –one should seriously circumnavigate its purview and level of influence. English has made a lot of influences on Igbo language, to the extent that some of the vocabularies of Igbo language are lost. The sentence structuring of the Igbo speaking people is also influenced, and semantics is loosely got due to the lost of some vocabularies and the shift at the syntactic level.

Therefore, the Igbo people are left with no option other than to code switch, code mix, borrow, anglicise, reduplicate in their speech. This has made it quite difficult for Igbo speaking people to flow freely in their Igbo linguistic repertoire without muddling, floundering, or being excused for mumbling words of Igbo language. This is a very vast problem besetting the Igbo speakers.

As a person gains the ability to use a second language, so they may, to some extent, lose the ability to use their first language. In circumstances less and less used, people do lose their command of it, whether as a group or individual. Perhaps this is familiar to everybody whose native language or school-learnt language has gradually or effectively vanished from their lives. According to Paradis (2000), research into this has mostly been carried out within the context of the loss of the first language by people who are spending their lives in a situation where it is not used for their major everyday social and professional purpose, whether as immigrants or expatriates.

The extent to which English influences the performances of students speaking Igbo language, particularly, with respect to semantics, requires a formal investigation so as to profer solution to the problem, hence, this study.

PROJECT TOPIC- EFFECTS OR INFLUENCES L2 HAS ON L1: SPECIFICALLY, AT THE SYNTACTIC AND THE SEMANTIC LEVELS

1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Observations have shown that some elements of the syntactic and semantic structures of English language have influenced the native speaker’s structures of Igbo language. In the same vein, this influence causes the speakers of Igbo language to borrow new words to their lexicon    those lexical items not found in the native lexicon.

Another typical example and eminent problem worthy of note is the Anglicization of Igbo lexical items, especially, most Igbo names. E.g,

  1. Chimah, instead of Chima
  2. Mbah, instead of Mba
  3. Ujatonu instead of Ujoatuonu
  4. Okwor instead of Okwo

Due to this influence, Igbo language which by nature is a tone language is now being spoken by Igbo speakers as a stress-time language.

Another problem which captures our interest due to the influence is the corruption of the language with code switching. For instance, consider the expressions below:

  1. Nna kedu maka business – Good friend , how is business ?
  2. His house tere aka – His horse is far.
  3. My brother si na o na-abia tomorrow – My brother said he will be coming tomorrow .
  4. Sata hymns 135 (one three five). – Turn to hymns number 135.

Code-switching, which occurs when two or more languages come in contact, the tendency is a mixture of varieties or a shift or transit from one linguistic system to another. In cases where one variety of language is given social prestige to the other, there is always the result of language death.

Therefore, to solve this problem, a good orthography should be provided by Igbo language scholars, and too, a working Igbo language dictionary must be made available to the use (reach) of all Igbo speakers. Hence this study is geared toward the following questions: How greatly has English language influenced Afikpo-Igbo language speakers. And to know whether this problem could be remedied?

1.3   PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

        The purpose of the study is to establish such effects or influences L2 has on L1: specifically, at the syntactic and the semantic levels. In details, therefore, the study is poised to:

  1. Identify such effects or influences of L2 on the syntactic structures of the Afikpo native speakers.
  2. To identify the influence of English language on the semantic structures and nuances of the Afikpo-Igbo language speakers.
  • To know the extent of these effects.
  1. To suggest possible solutions to the problem.

1.4   SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

        This study is important in the following ways:

The identification of the root or the underlying cause of any problems is the first step towards solving it. The ability of this study is to identify such influences or effects English language has on Igbo language and why they exist, would be a significant contribution to the effort to get the language rid of every damning influence and keep it from dying.

1.5  SCOPE OF STUDY

        Emenanjo (1984) notes, “Igbo language is substantially different from English; or any other language vis-à-vis, and so not all the primary grammatical categories we find in English language would be found in Igbo.”

        Heretofore, this study is only confined to identifying some syntactic and semantic effects or influences English language has on Afikpo-Igbo speakers.

        High schools, universities, Igbo elite the highly educated Igbo, and the hoi-po-loi, the common masses, like market women, labourers etc in Afikpo urban area were used for this study.

1.6   RESEARCH QUESTION

        The problems of this study would be posed in this order

  1. To what extent has English language syntactic influence on the speakers of Afikpo dialect?
  2. Are speakers of Afikpo-Igbo aware of the semantic influence of English on the dialect?

How greatly has English language influenced Afikpo–Igbo language speaker; what is the extent of this influence?

PROJECT TOPIC- EFFECTS OR INFLUENCES L2 HAS ON L1: SPECIFICALLY, AT THE SYNTACTIC AND THE SEMANTIC LEVELS

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