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This work aims at investigating the relationships that exist between the English  and  the Hausa languages at the level of their nominal phrases; and the implication this relationship will have on the teaching and learning situation. The study adopted a contrastive analysis theory cum contrastive analysis hypothesis which is an area of linguistic studies that deals with the scientific study of two or more languages so as to make critical, howbeit, pedagogical comments on their areas of divergence or convergence. The study discusses and compares some nominal phrases such as back-formation, blending alternation, affixation, compounding, clipping, coinage, reduplication, acronym, and borrowing in both languages using the descriptive analysis method. The analyses were based on Kano dialect of Hausa language which is the standard Hausa dialect.  From the  analyses,  it was  discovered that, morphology which is the study of grammatical rules of word structures in any language operates in both languages with significant areas of differences and similarities; that English  and Hausa use some processes to create some words; that affixation is one of the processes found in both English and Hausa; that some of the processes discussed in this study could be found in one and not in other language; that Hausa language interferes significantly on the teaching and learning of English as a second language. This research work can be used as a source of information or rather reference material to subsequent studies in English and Hausa languages in various components of linguistic structures. It  would also provide a premise for  the  study and analysis of nominal phrases in English and Hausa.  Recommendations   on how to overcome the pedagogical problems were offered and conclusion drawn.


Chapter One Introduction

  • Background to the Study


Language, an indispensable tool for human communication, is studied in  divergent ways. Irrespective of the area in which it is being studied, the most central to language and relevant to human communication is the word. Words play an integral role  in  the  human ability to use language with an infinite capacity of expressions. As a result of this, word is involved in almost all the levels of linguistic studies and analysis. Words are generally  classified into phonological, grammatical, morph syntactic, content and function words.

It is important to note that every word in the lexicon of a native speaker is encoded    with phonological, syntactic, semantic and, above all, morphological information. A native speaker of a language knows how to structure the words of the speaker in accordance with the morphological rules of the language, and also how to order the sequence of words correctly to form expressions or sentences in accordance with syntactic rules. The aspect of linguistics  which deals with words and their entire upshots is morphology. The goal of every  morphological study, therefore, is to discover and make explicit the rules or  principles,  patterns, processes and systems that underlie the nominal phrases in a language. It is possible, for instance, to break down Hausa word “budurwai” (girls) into smaller structural  units: “budurwai” = “budurwa” + “i”. The analysis here shows that “budurwai” (girls) can be broken down into two parts. This includes the first part “budurwa”,  which refers to something  in the world (+ young + female + human) and the second part “i” indicates a grammatical category of a number specifying plural. The same approach can easily be applied to the word “faraa” (started), which can be analyzed thus: “Faraa = ‘fara’ (start) +  ‘a’,  equivalent  to English past tense morpheme (-ed). However, while” budurwa” can be described as a noun, “fara” (start) is a verb and the second part ‘-a’ indicates past tense to the verb “fara” (start).


In morphological terms, the minimal parts of the words that have been analyzed above are called morphemes. Not only are these morphemes considered as the ultimate elements of morphological analysis, but they serve as the building blocks of  meaning  and  grammar.  Unlike phonemes, morphemes have a physical, that is phonological  and phonetic form, and  they have meaning or function. With this, it is plausible that a morpheme is attached to words   to serve a grammatical purpose as well as a semantic function.

In linguistics, morphology according to Mark Aronoff and Kirsten Fudeman refers to “the mental system involved in word formation or to the branch of linguistics that deals with words, their internal structure, and how they are formed” (1). Ephraim Chukwu states that “it originally means the study of shapes or forms used in biology, but since the middle of 19th century, it has been used to describe the type of investigation which analyzes all those basic linguistics elements which are usually in language” (1). George Yule explains that “these elements are technically known as morphemes in linguistics” (75) Leonard Bloomfield highlights four morphological types of language as follows:

  1. Isolating languages which are those used by the Chinese. They have no bound forms and a great majority of morphemes remain independent
  2. Agglutinative language: here, the bound forms are supposed merely to follow one  another, e.g.,
  3. Polysynthetic: these are languages that express, semantically,  important elements such   as verbal goals by means of bound forms as does
  4. Inflectional language shows a merging of semantically distinct features either in a single bound forms or in a close united bound forms as when the suffix Ō in a Latin form like ‘amō’ ‘I live’, etc. English is a good example of a fissional or inflected language  in  which morphemes are squeezed together and are often changed dramatically in the


process. All these can be a confusing concept, but looking at the morphology of the English language in its form, it retains a number of remnants (193).

Morphology, therefore, studies how words are  put  together from  their smallest parts and the rules governing this process. It is the branch of linguistics which deals with forms of words in different constructions.  Charles Hocket sees morphology as “the grammatical study   of words on construction of morphemes” (200). Eugene Nida states that “morphology is the study of morphemes and their arrangements in word formation” (100). Morpheme may be identified by its distribution and certain other characteristics.

The meaning of morpheme has received a lot of controversial ideas from  many  linguists. According to Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary, morpheme means  the  way units are ordered to give meaningful words. Some linguists approach the issue of the meaning  of morpheme as form of units which have a meaning but based their combinations on distribution, while other linguists see morpheme as form of composite unit. Bloomfield asserts that we can attribute any meaning of phoneme and cannot analyze the meaning of morpheme (193). Jacek Fisiak, identifies with Bloomfield Leonard, et al, as the advocates of morphemes   as units that have no meaning on their own (100). Note also that Allan Gleason (208) also describes morphemes as short sequence of phonemes. Since phoneme is said to  be  meaningless, then morpheme as well is meaningless. What then is morpheme?

According to General Basic Dictionary, a morpheme is a linguistic unit of  the system  of words distinguishing sounds of a language as ideally represented by single letter of  the  letters of alphabet; that is, phonemes are speech sounds. Earlier, however,  John Carrol (50)    and his contemporaries describe morpheme as a form which  embodies  grammatical  and  lexical meanings.  It is not all morphemes that have  meaning.  For instance ‘does’ in ‘does he’  is said to be a dummy morpheme because it has no meaning in the context, but has function which is to show that it is the question and singular; therefore it is a dummy.


Hocket (199) further asserts that morphemes are the smallest indivisibly meaningful elements in the utterances of a language. This means that morphemes are indivisible. That is, they cannot be divided and still have meanings. For example, the word ‘compound’ cannot be sub-divided into com + pound. Furthermore, David Crystal (300) defines a morpheme as a smallest bit of a language which has meaning and, moreover,  this meaning  is different from  the meaning of all  other morphemes in the  language.  What he is saying is that if a morpheme is added or removed from an utterance, the meaning of the utterance changes.

Crystal identifies morphemes by comparing a wide variety of utterances. He looks for utterances which are partially the same. A morpheme could be described as the minimal linguistic unit, but it is not every small unit that is a morpheme as there  are  other  characteristics that help one to identify a morpheme. According to Nida (100), there are also some criteria for the identification, recognition and understanding of morphemes.

The length of a word does not determine the number of morphemes in  it.  For example, the word “discipline” has ten letters of  the alphabet but has  one morpheme. Likewise,  the  word “category” is a word with eight letters of the alphabet but has one morpheme. The word “oxen” has four letters of the alphabet but has two morphemes. “ox” is a lexical morpheme while “-en” is a grammatical morpheme meaning plurality. The same phenomenon  is  applicable to the Hausa language. For example, the following  words  have  one  morpheme each:

Tsumagiyaa————- cane


Taswiraa—————– map


Daankaali————— potatoe


Kadaandooniya——— millipede


A morpheme may be a word or part of a word. The form of a morpheme and that of a word sometimes overlaps so that one concept presupposes the other (John Lyons 32). A


morpheme is not always an equivalent to a word. For instance, the grammatical unit such as “dig” and “-er” in English are morphemes while “dig” is a word and can stand on its own, “-   er” cannot stand independently as a word because it is a part of a word.  In  the  Hausa  language, the grammatical unit “manoomaa” (farmers) has ‘-ma’ and ‘noomaa’. While  ‘noomaa’ (farming) is a word and can stand on its own to give meaning, ‘-ma’ is a morpheme that cannot stand independently as a word to make a meaning. In addition, morphemes cannot  be divided into smaller parts without destroying or altering the meaning of the word. For instance, if the word “straight” is broken into /strei/ and /t/, /strei/ of course has a meaning  which though not related to the meaning of the word “straight” is still a morpheme; but /t/ is a meaningless remainder. Therefore, /strei/ is not a morpheme so long as the word “straight” is concerned. Similarly, the word “tauraaroo” (star) cannot be divided into tau + raa  +  roo because they are meaningless parts. This therefore, characterizes the word as consisting of a single morpheme.

Certain morphemes have a specific order in which they must occur. In English, the word “reconvene” (re-con-vene) cannot be reordered or rearranged as con-re-vene. This second arrangement is unfamiliar and meaningless to the native speaker of English. The order of morpheme in the Hausa language is also the same thing. For example, the word  “maa+  sooracii” (fearful) cannot be reordered as soo-ra-cii-maa. Therefore, the meaning of a word depends solely on the meaning and arrangement of the morphemes. Nida maintains that forms which have common semantic distinctiveness and identical phonemic forms in the entire occurrence constitute similar forms. This shows that the form such as  “-er” as  in worker,  singer and stranger are the same morphemes if they have the same meaning.

Furthermore, a morpheme is also recognized by semantic and distributional criteria without its form being identical. A clear example is in the formation of plural in English. If we compare the final element in “hands” /z/, “cats” /s/ and “matches” /iz/, there is a common


meaning (plural), common distribution and common phonological resemblance. Just as the sound /l/ in “bottle’ does not really contrast in meaning anywhere in English with sound in “lamp” and just as we talk of the phoneme /l/ being realized by two allomorphs, so the morpheme plural is realized by different allomorphs /-z/, /-s/ and /iz/. Similarly, the English morpheme has its allomorphs in the different realizations of past tense as in worked /t/, raised

/d/ and mended /id/.


In addition, morphemes can appear in many different words; that is, morphemes are recyclable. Word analysis is such a powerful skill because the same morphemes show up over and over again in different words. For example, “reduce” means to diminish  or  lower;  “deduce” to infer; “seduce” to lure away; “produce” to bring into being; “induce” to bring on.    It should be noted, therefore, that every word which can be divided into meaningful parts contains more than one morpheme. The meaning of the word “capsize” for example has to do with overturning of boat in the water. It is not the same as the additive meaning “cap” (a head- covering worn by men) and “size”  which is the degree  of largeness or smallness of an object.  A morpheme must have a relatively stable meaning wherever  it occurs; for example,  ‘-en’  must display the meaning of “to make” in any environment it occurs. Other examples are “ensnare”, “frighten”, “brighten”, “darken”, “quicken”, and so on.

The importance of second language learner’s competence in morphological appropriateness is obviously paramount. Yule George, (126), contends that “grammatical competence helps greatly in facilitating communicative competence”. In view of this, ESL learners that lack both morphological and grammatical competence tend to  communicate  poorly in both written and  spoken forms of  English. Aliyu  Kamal (20) explains that “English is an international medium of communication spoken as the second language (L2)  in  Nigeria and it is the official language. As such, the need for proficiency is not only desirable but absolutely necessary”. Ibrahim (208) asserts that “in Nigeria, English continues to be widely


used as a medium of instruction at all levels of education: primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Despite its significance, the standard of Nigerian education is gradually becoming very poor.” This may not be unconnected with the fact that learners of English as a second language (ESL) have not adequately understood the word formation processes of the English language, especially when such processes contradict the word formation processes of  their native language. Therefore, the descriptive nature of the study would reveal the theoretical significance of nominal phrases available in the English and Hausa languages. This study investigates a theoretical explanation of the facts about nominal phrases in the English and Hausa languages, their areas of similarities and differences and how second language learners of English will use the processes to effectively form new words. Despite the fact that there exists various studies that have accounted for the justification of nominal phrases, most second language learners of English do not know how new words are formed using the process. As such, morphological errors are commonly observed in  the  written  English of many ESL learners (Naama Friedman, et al. (56) The study has accounted for areas  of similarities and differences in both languages and revealed how effective communication in English is enhanced among the Hausa learners of the English language using nominal phrases.

                       Statement of the Problem


Every language of the world has its own word formation processes and the rules governing the formation. English and Hausa are two different languages with  different  linguistic origins, backgrounds, and conditions that make them naturally  different.  It  is  obvious that the morphological differences in English and Hausa words create problems in the teaching and learning of English, the target language. Despite the fact that  scholarly  works have been done on the nominal phrases of the Hausa and other languages,  yet not  much has been done on the English and the Hausa nominal phrases. The researcher


intended to compare the nominal phrases of the English and Hausa languages and unravel the implications the linguistic differences may have on the adequate teaching and learning of the second language called English. This research was set to fill this vacuum.

                       Objectives of the Study


This study intends to:


  1. examine the nominal phrases of the English language in comparison with the Hausa language;
  2. find out the characteristic features and distributions of the Hausa morphemes;


  1. explore areas of similarities and dissimilarities;


  1. find out how this relationship affects the word formation processes of the learners of English as a second language (ESL) in their written communication; and
  2. Suggest ways through which communication competence of the learners of English as a second language can be facilitated using appropriate word-formation processes.

      Significance of the Study


The study will be of relevance  as follows:


  1. It will provide us with an insight into the nominal phrases of the English and Hausa languages;
  2. It will improve the knowledge of ESL learners and thus improve both students’ and teachers’ performances as it relates to the teaching/learning of English as a second language;
  3. It will serve as another step towards finding an explanation to the relationship that  exists between the English and Hausa languages in terms of their word-formation patterns and processes;


  1. It will serve as a viable and valuable linguistic source of information to the students that are studying English and Hausa at the tertiary level thereby improve their teaching methodology with regard to nominal phrases.
  2. It will help teachers to focus on the areas of differences to enhance students’ understanding of the word-formation processes of the target language (English).
  3. It will help authors and teachers of English as a second language to anticipate and predict what their Hausa students are likely to encounter in English word formation.  This will also equip the teachers with possible solutions to their learners’ challenges;  and
  4. The curriculum designers and planners will find help in this study and  therefore  fashion school curricula and syllabuses to reflect word formation patterns of both languages especially in Hausa community- based

                       Scope and Delimitation


Language has several areas that can be studied.  These  areas  include  phonology, syntax, morphology and semantics. However, this study accounts for the area of morphology which is a part of linguistics. This research covers only the nominal phrases (word- formation patterns) of the English and Hausa languages.

                       Research Questions


The following research questions are used to generate data about the nominal phrases of the English and Hausa languages.

  1. What are the nominal phrases obtainable in the English and Hausa languages?


  1. What are the characteristic features and distributions of the Hausa morphemes?


  1. To what extent do English and Hausa languages share similarities and differences in their nominal phrases?


  1. How do their similarities and dissimilarities affect the learning processes of the Hausa native speakers?
  2. What are the ways through which communication competence of the learners of  English language, be enhanced using appropriate word-formation processes?


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