Journal of West African Languages

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On the Status of Lone English Verbs in Igbo-English Bilingual Speech On the Status of Lone English Verbs in Igbo-English Bilingual Speech

Abstract

The paper addresses the controversy in language contact literature about lone items as constituting either codeswitching or borrowing. Whereas multi-word constituents are readily classified as codeswitching, the status of lone items is often in dispute. Some researchers admit them as codeswitching (e.g. Myers-Scotton, 1992, 1887, 2002), while others (e.g. Poplack & Meechan, 1998; Sankoff, Poplack, & Vanniarajan. 1990) classify them, on the basis of morphosyntactic integration, as instances of momentary borrowing or ‘nonce’ loans. The claim that lone English verbs in Igbo-English bilingual speech are nonce borrowings is examined, and it is noted that integration is realised on English verbs, without exception, by the same features and to the same extent whenever the grammatical frame is in Igbo. Integration is shown: (i) to differentiate lone English verbs and lone items of other categories, (ii) to highlight the non-selective nature of Igbo verbal affixes, and (iii) to mark the distinction between two major patterns in Igbo-English codeswitching, namely, insertional and alternational codeswitching. Insertional codeswitching consistently yields morphosyntactically integrated English verbs, making integration insignificant in distinguishing between codeswitching and borrowing. The paper therefore argues for a codeswitching account of (integrated) lone English verbs in discourse framed in Igbo.

 




Data

Volume Number 44.1
Topic #1 Sociolinguistics
Author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Language Family Atlantic
Subject Language Igbo


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