THE MORPHO-SEMANTIC IMPLICATIONS OF ENGLISH LOAN-WORDS FROM AFRICA

THE MORPHO-SEMANTIC IMPLICATIONS OF ENGLISH LOAN-WORDS FROM AFRICA

ABSTRACT

This research work examines how the English language adopted words of African origin into its vocabulary. It also investigates the morphological and semantic changes that these words go through in order to thrive successfully in the English lexicon. Most speakers of the English language are oblivious of the inherent changes that take place in the language. They are hardly able to identify the fact that the English language borrows extensively from other languages of the world, including the African languages. Many language users do not take cognizance of the adaptability of languages as one language borrows from another at a given period of time, due to a number of language contact phenomena or influence from the language of borrowing. It has been established in this work that English is traditionally quite disposed to accommodate foreign words, and as it has become an international language spoken by people of many cultures and a number of mother tongues, it has absorbed vocabulary from a large number of other sources so much so that it is often suggested that the lexicon of the English language is the largest in the world. This research work therefore, shows some of the English loanwords from different African languages, including Nigerian languages. For instance, the word “`oke`” which means male, is an English loan-word from a language in South Africa which retains its original meaning in the English dictionary as “a boy or man, or simply, a male”.  This word is also used in Igbo language and the meaning is the same but I can’t really say how it came into the Igbo language because this investigation does not cover that area. Similarly, the words, “juju”, “zombie”, “okra” and “banana”, among others, are words borrowed from African languages. These have been exposed and examined in this research work. Using the descriptive research method, the work expatiates the morphological as well as semantic changes that come with the adoption of the foreign words.