On the So-called me-type of Verb Serialisation in Igbo-English Code-switching


  • Ihuọma I. Akinrẹmi University of Jos


Verb Serialisation, me-type, Igbo-English Code-switching


This study attempts to establish the status of a construction observed in the speech of IgboEnglish bilinguals which combines the Igbo verb me (‘do’) and an uninflected English verb. Eze (1998) describes it as a type of Serial Verb Construction (SVC) which, curiously, is not attested in unmixed Igbo. This, in addition to the fact that the SVC is not attested in the other language in the pair – English – suggests that the status of the construction as a SVC, or otherwise, deserves further investigation. Data for the present study come from spontaneous speech and recorded group conversations of Igbo-English bilinguals and from published works. Recorded utterances with a joint predication initiated by me are subjected to structural analysis and compared with the analysis, in the literature, of the Igbo SVC, constructions with the Igbo verb me and the English verb do, and the Light Verb Construction in code-switching. The study finds that the main feature of the bilingual me-construction, namely the combination of a verb with diminished predicational
content and a lexical verb, is typical of the bilingual Light Verb Construction. It concludes that the so-called “me-serialisation” is a special use of a semantically light verb with the semantic content of do as a verbal accommodation strategy in code-switching.The study contributes insight into patterns of interaction between elements from participating languages in code-switching, as demonstrated by a construction not attested in the Igbo language, but used as a strategy for accommodating English verbs in a morphosyntactic frame set in Igbo in mixed (Igbo-English) clauses.

Author Biography

Ihuọma I. Akinrẹmi, University of Jos






How to Cite

I. Akinrẹmi, I. . (2016). On the So-called me-type of Verb Serialisation in Igbo-English Code-switching. Journal of The Linguistic Association of Nigeria. Retrieved from https://jolan.com.ng/index.php/home/article/view/1