Morpholexical and Semantic Features of Igbo ‘cut’ and ‘break’ verbs


  • Maduabuchi Sennen Agbo University of Benin, Benin, Nigeria


Igbo, cut and break verbs, lexical knowledge, truth conditions, propositions


The grammatical features of cut and break (C&B) verbs have been extensively studied in many languages. In spite of this collection of studies, C&B verbs are yet to be properly identified and classified in Igbo, even though a vast array of Igbo verb studies exists. Hence, this study focuses on identifying and describing the morpho-lexical and semantic properties of Igbo C&B verbs. The theory of lexical knowledge is adopted as the model for the analysis of data. The data consists of 68 lexical entries in Igbo dictionaries and elicitation from seventeen consultants that speak four different dialects. Data analysis shows that C&B verbs are indeed lexemes with truth conditional propositions. The verbs take up complements in the syntax which establish the cultural situations where the cutting and breaking activities occur. Eight different contexts are identified for cut verbs, within the semantic frame for description. The break verbs gwé, kwo ̣́ and wá operate in three different contexts based on the semantic frame of reference. Nonetheless, the break verbs gbá, kú, sú, tí and dọ́ are bound morphemes whose truth conditional propositions are determined when they are suffixed with -bìé, -jìé, -rìé, -ká, -púó and –wá. The break verb ghu ̣́p ūō is specific to the Nnewi variety. The study concludes that contrary to findings in the literature, Igbo break verbs denote the instruments used in the activities. This raises the question of further research that would contrast the facts of Igbo C&B verbs with other languages.

Author Biography

Maduabuchi Sennen Agbo, University of Benin, Benin, Nigeria




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How to Cite

Sennen Agbo, M. . (2018). Morpholexical and Semantic Features of Igbo ‘cut’ and ‘break’ verbs. Journal of The Linguistic Association of Nigeria, 21(1), 63–75. Retrieved from