Derivational Affixes in Igbo: Pedagogic Implications

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Ojukwu, Chika Kate
Gift Chidi-Onwuta


The Igbo and English languages are genetically disparate and as such, are characterised by differences in the derivational processes. Such characteristic differences may pose learning and usage problems to an Igbo-English bilingual following the assumption of the proponents of the strong version of contrastive analysis. The thrust of this study was to highlight derivational affixation features of the Igbo languages, with a view to predicting areas of learning difficulty to an Igbo English bilingual using hierarchy of difficulties and situating language universals. The data were collected using recorded verbal utterances of native speakers and literatures in Igbo grammar and analysed using the descriptive research method. The work revealed that Igbo has derivational affixes: prefixes, interfixes, and circumfixes as found in some world languages. The prevalence of these affixes in the Igbo language is a good data to situate or support claims on language universals. The study further revealed that prefixes in Igbo are used in deriving infinitives, present participles (inflections), and nouns from verbs and verbal nouns (derivations). In English, however, they are used to express negation, degree or size, attitudes, position, time location and order. Using Prator's level 3 hierarchy of difficulty interpretation), the study found that the Igbo English-bilingual has to reinterpret his familiar prefixes to the English suffixes which are used to achieve the same purposes in English.

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How to Cite
Chika Kate, O. ., & Chidi-Onwuta, G. (2018). Derivational Affixes in Igbo: Pedagogic Implications. Journal of The Linguistic Association of Nigeria, 21(1), 40–47. Retrieved from
Author Biographies

Ojukwu, Chika Kate, Department of English and Literary Studies

University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Gift Chidi-Onwuta, Use of English Unit,

Michael Okpara University Of Agriculture, Umudike,  +234 7035002859


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