A Morphophonological Analysis of Selected English Language Loanwords in Hausa Language


A Morphophonological Analysis of Selected English Language Loanwords in Hausa Language

A Study Of Selected Entries From Hausa Dictionary


This dissertation examines English loan words in Hausa language and their nativisation through morphophonological processes. The contact situation between speakers of both languages through colonialism has brought about borrowing from the English language into the Hausa language. However, certain morphophonemic processes have accounted for the nativisation of such loanwords in the Hausa lexicon. The aim of the research is to examine the morphological and phonological processes that account for the domestication of loanwords from English borrowed into the Hausa language. Using morphophonemic approach as its framework, findings reveal that: insertion of extra syllables/ morphemes (Epenthesis), substitution of letters/ phonemes, deletion of letters/phonemes, shortening of long vowel sounds and metathesis are some of the morphophonemic processes that account for the nativisation of loanwords from the English language to the Hausa language.



Background to the Study

Borrowing words from other languages is among the key attributes of growing languages. For any language that is determined to grow, borrowing is inevitable. This is why a language that refuses to borrow will likely die out as was the case of Vulgar Latin. There is hardly any language that has not borrowed from another throughout its existence. Harris corroborates this assertion by submitting that,

all languages have borrowed from other languages, though obviously not all to the same degree. Just to stay with your question, French has borrowed lots of words from mediaeval and scholastic Latin (as opposed to the “genuine” French words derived organically from Vulgar Latin), and modern spoken French has borrowed heavily from English (despite the strictures of purists). Sanskrit borrowed heavily from Dravidian. Classical Arabic borrowed from Aramaic, Middle Persian and Greek, and Modern Arabic dialects have borrowed lots of words from Turkish, French, English, and (in Iraq and the Gulf) from Persian. (8)

To illustrate the positions stated above further, the English language as an international or global language is unarguably the fastest growing language today because, apart from the fact that it came into existence centuries ago through borrowing from the Angles, Saxons and Jutes or the Scandinavian languages; it continues to borrow widely today from many languages of the world like French, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese among others.
Harris’s view underscores the fact that borrowing sustains all languages of the world as long as

language contact is still a possibility today. Just as in Europe where languages like Germany, English, Russia among other languages are building up their word stock through borrowing, in Asia. Norman (72) opines that “Japanese and Korea continue to borrow from Chinese which has also borrowed from other smaller languages in China like Cantonese, Yue, Jin, Wu, Gan, Xiang, Min, Hakka, among others.”

In the African continent also, no language, be it major or minor can be said to be insulated from borrowing. Swahili and Arabic have borrowed extensively from both Asian and African languages especially those within the communities where they are widely spoken. Another African language that has continually proved to be a formidable competitor linguistically among the most widely used languages of Africa owing largely to its ability to borrow extensively from other languages is the Hausa language. The Hausa language has been able to maintain its position as one of the dominant languages in Africa largely due to its borrowing capacity. Although the Hausa language has borrowed from several other languages, one of its major lexifiers is the English language from which it has borrowed its vocabulary extensively. Examples of such loan English language words abound in Hausa which have become domesticated to suit the morphological and phonological systems of the Hausa language.

Colonialism and linguistic contact have been adduced by linguists like Baldesh (19) and Ogbuehi (26) as some of the factors that bring about linguistic borrowing. Historically speaking, it has been widely maintained that colonialism and trade were the major factors that connected African indigenous cultures with Western civilization. The relationship between Hausa leaders and British imperialists through the indirect rule is also believed to have developed as a result of the factors highlighted. According to Ogbuehi (26),

Many reasons that were not unconnected with eminent fear of hostility and resistance as well as lack of personnel made English colonialists to opt for that system of rule which made it easier to control Hausa States through the emirs without exhausting more resources than necessary. For communication reason, the English colonial masters had to resort to the services of intermediaries to serve as interpreters; passing information from the English colonialists to the Hausa emirs in the then traditional political system. Those interpreters were mostly bilinguals who spoke English as L2 and Hausa as L1.

This practice facilitated the process where many English language loanwords were transported to Hausa and they have undergone certain morphological changes which have also affected their phonological renditions. ¬

These morphological changes, according to Uba (234), could be in the forms of metathesis which he explained to mean the reordering of segments. For example, words like ‘christian’ becomes ‘kirshn,’ ‘flask’ becomes ‘flaks,’ and so on. There is also Epenthesis which refers to sound insertion or addition between vowels or consonants of the borrowed word. For example, ‘resignation’ becomes ‘resigination’ and ‘British’ becomes ‘Biritish’ respectively. In the case of Ecthlipsis which according to Tiffen (13) refers to the deletion of sound segment especially when they occur at penultimate positions of a word, preceded by a vowel and followed by the morpheme ‘s’. For example, ‘goods’ becomes ‘gus’, ‘minutes’ becomes ‘minis’, ‘characteristics’ becomes ‘karakteristis’ and so on. As could be noticed, ecthlipsis is the opposite of epenthesis. This means that morphophonemic analysis takes place at the levels of morphological and phonological changes respectively.

Thus, this study intends to examine some of the borrowed words of Hausa from English and analyse the possible morphophonemic changes that have taken place before their naturalization into the Hausa linguistic or communication system.

Statement of the Problem

Over the years, the Hausa language has witnessed significant growth and recognition both nationally and internationally as it assumes the position of a first, second or foreign language. Undoubtedly, this significant development cannot be detached from the “expertise” of the Hausa language when it comes to borrowing of lexical items from other languages generally, and particularly the English language to enrich its vocabularies.

The problem, however, is that most of the borrowed words from the English language into the Hausa language have hardly maintained their original forms in both pronunciation (phonology) and spelling (morphology). It is against this background that this study sets out to describe the morphophonemic factors responsible for the changes that lead to the ‘’nativisation’’ or ‘’Hausanisation’’ of certain English loan words into the Hausa language.

Aim and Objectives of the Study

This research work is aimed at exploring and analysing the morphophonological changes of Hausa loanwords borrowed from the English language. The objectives of this research are:

i. To analyse the changes in the syllable structure of the loanwords from both the donor language and the host language (English to Hausa)

ii. To investigate the loss and addition of phonemes or syllables from the donor language to the host language. (English to Hausa)

iii. To establish the factors or processes responsible for these changes that seem to affect the morphological and phonological makeup of the loans from English to Hausa.

Research Questions

In order to achieve the aim and objectives of the research, answers will be provided to the following questions which are also meant to serve as a guide:

i. Are there changes that have occurred in the syllable structure of the loanwords from the English language into the Hausa language?

ii. Have these changes affected the pronunciation of these loan words that have been brought into the Hausa language from the English language?

iii. What are the morphological and phonological factors or processes responsible for these changes that have occurred in the loan words under review?

Significance of the Study

There are a number of works and researches on borrowing from both the perspectives of sociolinguists and morphologists. Also, much has been done on morphophonemic analysis across many languages of the world. But unfortunately, as advanced and as fast-growing as the Hausa language is, it lacks literature on morphophonological analysis especially with regards to loanwords from the English language that have been ‘Hausanized.’ Therefore, this research work would be of great importance to researchers by providing some clues on investigating morphophonemic related issues or more precisely by providing clues on how to explore the link that exists between phonology and morphology of Hausa in English. This research will equally be of importance to those researchers who have a great interest in carrying out researches on issues related to language contact, language death, borrowing or adoption of loan words. Another significance of this study lies in how its findings are going to benefit linguists in general and specifically morphologists, sociologists and phonologists since it is centered on these three areas of linguistics.

Scope and Limitations of the Study

This research work focused its attention on only the morphophonological changes that occurred in the English language words which have been borrowed into the Hausa language where a detailed morphophonemic analysis of such changes was carried out. In the course of the study, the research analyzed the syllable structure of the loanwords to determine where such morphophonological changes occurred. The study also investigated some important morphophonemic changes such as the loss or addition of phonemes or morphemes in the loanwords.

Although there are numerous domesticated English language loan words in the Hausa language, this work focused on only forty of such words which were selected through the purposive random sampling technique owing to the fact that analyzing all the loan words entered into the Hausa Dictionary would have been too enormous a task for a research of this nature that is constrained by time and space.

In addition, although there are many books, newspapers and even pamphlets written or translated into Hausa from the English language which featured some of these nativised English language loan words, this research, however, concentrated only on selected loanwords found in “Sabon Kamusun Na Hausa Zuwa Turanci ” which means: “Modern Hausa-English Dictionary” compiled by Bayero University and published by the Centre for the Study of Nigerian Languages in 2006. Also, the study was limited to the morphophonemic analysis of the syllables and morphemes of the selected words. The phonemic aspects such as stress or tone will be excluded as they will not be extensively discussed in details. The fact that the study cannot account for all the English loanwords into Hausa language limits the generalization of the research findings because exceptions to whatever has been described are likely to abound.

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