A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE TONE SYSTEMS OF IBIBIO AND IGBO

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A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE TONE SYSTEMS OF IBIBIO AND IGBO

 

Abstract

This paper aims at investigating tone in Ibibio, a Lower Cross language and Igbo a Benue Congo language. The specific objectives are to identify the types of tone level that they have. It further examines the tonotactic patterns of the two languages in order to determine their similarities and differences. The study adopts the auto-segmental theory of analysis. The paper finds out that Ibibio has register and contour tones whereas Igbo has only terrace register tone system. Tone in the two languages perform lexical and grammatical functions

1. Introduction

Ibibio belongs to the Lower Cross language group of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family (Williamson, 1989). The Ibibio language is the lingua franca in Akwa Ibom State. It is a language that is largely spoken in fifteen local government areas out of the thirtyone local government areas of the State in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria. It is mutually intelligible with the other existing dominant languages in the state such as Anaang and Oro. Ibibio is a tone language and each syllable is assigned a tone unit. The syllable structure in Ibibio comprises vowels and syllabic nasals. Tone contrasts meaning in the words, phrases and sentences of the language. There exist two types of tones in Ibibio, namely the register (level) tone and the contour (glide) tone. Tone carries out lexical and grammatical functions. Some tonal processes change from register tone to contour tone and vice versa in syntactic constructions. Furthermore, some tones float and become linked to neighbouring segments to contrast meaning.

 

A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE TONE SYSTEMS OF IBIBIO AND IGBO

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