Full Project – Contrastive analysis of plural forms in Nupe and English languages

Full Project – Contrastive analysis of plural forms in Nupe and English languages

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1.1       Background to the study

Language, in the words of Murthy (01) states that it is the medium of communication through which we express our emotions, ideas, feelings and thoughts to our fellow people”. It is an attribute that is only possessed by human. This explains why Encyclopedia Americana (727) defines language as “the faculty and ability possessed by normal human beings and by no other species, using spoken or written utterances to represent mental phenomena or events”. Sapir (08) defines language as a “Purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols.”  Arising from the above one can conveniently say that language is an essential and a vital vehicle in communication.

The basic role of all languages is to communicate mainly among humans. This communicative role enhances development. This point to the reason why all languages need to be studied to facilitate the know-how of speakers. This is the more reason why the study of pluralisation in Nupe language and English languages, with emphasis on Nupe language in this case is necessary. The purpose for the contrastive analysis of Plural forms Nupe language and English in this research is to help bring out their similarities and dissimilarities. This research also takes care of the various ways of achieving pluralisation in the two languages under study.

The word “plural” can be defined as the inflection of a singular noun to make it acquire a status of two or more persons, places or things, ideas, concepts and entities. Plural forms works to indicate the status of a number of items. This is affirmed by Quirk and Greenbaum (80) in the following words: “The English number system comprises SINGULAR, which denotes „one‟, and PLURAL, which denotes „more than one‟. The singular category includes common non-count nouns and proper nouns. Count nouns are VARIABLE, occurring with either singular or plural number (boy~boys), or have INVARIABLE plural (cattle).” In the same vein, Alobo (35) concurs as the Plural forms of nouns cannot be discussed in isolation of number. This is because the inflection of nouns to indicate their plurality is essentially a business of number.

The English number system comprises the singular which denotes “one” and the plural, which denotes more than one. It is noted that apart from nouns, pluralisation could be obtained from the use of pronouns, determiners and verbs in the structure of Nupe language and English. The researcher delves into the morphological and morphophonemic processes which are very important aspects as far as the formation of pluralisation is concerned in the languages under study (Booij, 120).

Alobo (35) explains the diversities of ways in plural formation in English borrowing: “Generally speaking, English nouns have different ways of forming their plurals. This happens because of the numerous foreign words that exist in the language”. This may not necessarily be the case with Nupe language. The fact is that even the borrowed words in Nupe language must conform to the Nupe language plural formation principles. The principles of forming plurals using plural morphemes like “zhi” is apparently evident in Nupe. This is however, not the case with English Language where most words adopt the borrowed words original language plural principles: medium-media.

It must be stated at this point that both English and Nupe language are Languages of the world but with different statuses. While English is an international language, Nupe language is primarily spoken by the Nupe language people, who are primarily found in Niger State in Nigeria. However, Nupe language communities can also be found in other neighboring states, including Kwara, Kogi, and the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja). While the Nupe language is predominantly spoken in these areas, it’s worth noting that Nigeria is a linguistically diverse country with over 500 languages spoken, and there may be variations and dialects within the Nupe language itself.  Despite the above identified differences in status, all languages play almost the same role. This is the position of Halliday (23) who states that: “Linguistic research had demonstrated that there was no such thing as a primitive (inferior) language”.

In early generative linguistics, morphology and syntax were not seen as two separate levels; the syntactic rules of grammar apply to the structure of words, as they do to phrases and sentences. Morphological notions emerge only at the point where the output of the syntactic component has to be given a phonological representation (via the morph phonological rules). Natural morphology (NM) is an approach which aims to describe and explain universal tendencies in word-formation (such as the preference for deriving morpheme-based morphology nouns from verbs, rather than the reverse). Prosodic morphology is a theory of how morphological and phonological determinants of linguistic form interact (Crystal, 215).

Booij (122) points out that there are two basic functions of morphological operations:  (i) the creation of new words (i.e. new lexemes), and (ii) spelling out the appropriate form of a lexeme in a particular syntactic context. Morphology thus provides means for extending the set of words of a language in a systematic way. The coinage of bottle factory is a case of compounding, in which two lexemes are combined into a new one. In the other type of word-formation, derivation, exemplified by the word swimmer, use is made of morphological operations on lexemes, whereas in compounding, two or more lexemes are combined into a new word.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

The Nupe language of Nigeria is a language that is still yearning for development as its orthography, sound system and other aspects still need further study hence it cannot claim to be as developed as the other languages spoken within the shores of Nigeria like Hausa and Yoruba, though it has come a long way. Researches’ have been done on many key areas of Nupe language like morphology, phonology and syntax but these researches are not conclusive and extensive enough to stand the test of time. This is why further study is needed in these areas including plural form which is an area of inflectional morphology.

The main motivation for this research is to bring out many features about Nupe language plural forms which need serious analysis as most of the earlier works on Nupe language plural forms are either too scanty or not analytical enough. This, the researcher considers a problem which needs solution, hence this study.  To achieve the focus of this research an investigation into the morphological similarities and differences between the Nupe language and English Plural forms processes is explored with a view to testing the universality or otherwise of language and further narrow the yawning gap that is brought about as a result of the inadequate materials on Plural forms in Nupe language.

1.3       Research Questions

Based on the statement of problem, this research is set to answer the following questions:

  1. To what extent do morphological realizations exist in Nupe language as they do in English language?
  2. What morphological rules govern the plural form process in Nupe language and English language?
  • How do these morphological realizations affect the syntactic structures of Nupe language and English languages?

1.4       Aim and Objectives of the Study

The main aim of the study is to contrastively analyse the Plural forms in Nupe language and English languages. The research, however, hopes to achieve the following objectives

  1. To ascertain if morphological realizations exist in Nupe language as in English language.
  2. To highlight the areas of similarities or dissimilarities in the morpho-syntactic plural form process in Nupe language and the English language.
  • To analyse how the morphological process in Nupe language affects its syntactic structure.

1.5       Scope of the Study

The study will examine the different strategies and mechanisms employed in Nupe language and English for forming plural forms using the analysis of affixation, stem modifications, reduplication, and any other relevant processes used in both languages. It will also explore the morphological patterns involved in plural formation in Nupe language and English, which include an analysis of the types of affixes used, their position within the word, and any morphophonemic changes that occur during Pluralisation.

Also, the study will look at the two plural forms, regular and irregular, particularly as it affects Nupe language and English Language generally. The emphasis here is on the morphological, inflectional and phonological aspects as put forward by Crew (2017:403). He argues that, to make a noun plural add –s or –es.

1.6       Significance of the Study

The study on “A contrastive analysis of plural forms in Nupe language and English languages” holds significant implications in various domains. It contributes to a deeper understanding of the linguistic structures and processes involved in plural formation in Nupe language and English. By conducting a systematic analysis, the study will identify the specific mechanisms and strategies used in each language, shedding light on the similarities and differences between them.

The research has practical implications for second language learners of Nupe language or English. By identifying the challenges and differences in plural formation, the study can provide valuable insights into areas that may pose difficulties for learners. Furthermore, the study has implications for cross-cultural communication. Plural forms are essential for effective communication, and their proper usage is crucial in cross-cultural interactions. By highlighting the specific Pluralisation patterns in Nupe language and English, the research will help learners and users navigate the differences accurately, minimizing potential confusion or misunderstanding.


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Full Project – Contrastive analysis of plural forms in Nupe and English languages