The study aimedat Contrasting Afemai and English Morphological Structures with Learning and Teaching Implications.Morphology is the study of words,how they are formed, and their relationship to other words in the same language.It analyzes the structure of words,inflection, stems, root words, and affixation. This work contrast English and Afemai morphology to determine the points where they differ. It also examined the areas of similarities and discussed where they differ using a contrastive analysis model. These differences werepredicted as major causes of difficulties in the learning of the second language. Taxonomic model of CA was used to critically examine the two languages structures, and comment on the implication for teaching and learningthe second language. Corpus for the research was mainly Swadesh (2016) world list and first-hand information of Afemai speakers of the language studied.  Afemai was found to posses morphological properties that relate to the English morphological structures. The research studied and contrasted affixation structures found in both languages.To this end, the similarities and differences that exist between Afemai and English in preffixation, suffixation, inflection and derivational morphemes were examined. The data of both English and Afemai used in this work were collected through oral interview and direct observation of the dialect of Afemai. Through the application of James (1983) in Al-khresheh (2016) theory of contrastive analysis, the investigation reveals that both languages have certain similarities and differences in word formation processes.




CoverPage                                                                                                                               i

TitlePage                                                                                                                                 ii

Declaration                                                                                                                                 iii

Certification                                                                                                                                iv


Abstract                                                                                                                                   v

Table of Contents                                                                                                                    vi

Definition of Operational Terms                                                                                               vii

Abbreviations                                                                                                                            viii

List of Figures                                                                                                                         ix

List of Appendices                                                                                                                  x


1.1      Background to the Study                                                                                                  1

1.2      Brief History of Afemai                                                                                                    6

1.3       Statement of the Problem                                                                                                 7

1.4      Objectives of the Study                                                                                                     8

1.5      Research Questions                                                                                                           8

1.6      Significance of the Study                                                                                                  8

1.7      Basic Assumptions                                                                                                          10

1.8       Scope and Delimitation                                                                                                  10


2.1      Introduction                                                                                                                     11

2.2      Contrastive Analysis (CA)                                                                                              11

2.3      Conceptual Foundations of CA                                                                                      13

2.4      Contrastive Models                                                                                                         15

2.5      Steps for Contrastive Analysis                                                                                        18

2.6      C.A. Procedures                                                                                                              19

2.7      Weak and Strong Version of Contrastive Analysis.                                                       20

2.8      Relevance of Contrastive Analysis.                                                                                23

2.9       Weakness of Contrastive Analysis                                                                                 26

2.10     Concept of Morphology                                                                                                 26

2.11    Morphological   Processes                                                                                              27

2.12        Affixation                                                                                                                    28

2.13        Compounding                                                                                                              28

2.14        Suppletion                                                                                                                   29

2.15        Zero-Morphemes                                                                                                        29

2.16    Derivation                                                                                                                       29

2.17        Inflection                                                                                                                     30

2.18    Number                                                                                                                           30

2.19    Gender                                                                                                                             31

2.20    Identification of Morphemes                                                                                          32

2.21        Morphemes of English                                                                                                34

2.22        Morphemes of Afemai                                                                                                35

2.23    Prefixes                                                                                                                           38

2.24    Suffixes                                                                                                                           39

2.25        Circumfixation                                                                                                            39

2.26     Derivational Morpheme                                                                                                  40

2.27    Infixes                                                                                                                             40

2.29    Compound Formation                                                                                                     41

2.30    Reduplication                                                                                                                  42

2.31        Review of Afemai Alphabet, Acheoah, (2012)                                                          43

2.32   Summary                                                                                                                          46


3.1      Introduction                                                                                                                     47

3.2       Research Design                                                                                                             47

3.3      Sources of Data                                                                                                               48

3.4       Primary Source                                                                                                               48

3.5      Secondary Source                                                                                                           48

3.6      Primary Method of Data Collection                                                                               48

3.7      Secondary Data                                                                                                               48

3.8      Population for the Study                                                                                                 49

3.9      Sample and sampling Technique                                                                                    49

3.10     Systematic Sampling                                                                                                      49

3.11    Research Instrument                                                                                                        50

3.12    Data Collection Procedures                                                                                             50

3.13    Data Analysis Techniques                                                                                               51


4.1      Introduction 52
4.2      Method of Investigation 52
4.3      English Word Formation 52
4.3.1Additive Morphemes 52
4.3.2Afemai Additive Morphemes 53
4.4      Suppletion in English 54
4.5      Suppletion in Afemai 55
4.6      Affixation 56
4.6.1 Prefixes in English 56
4.6.2 Suffixation in English 57
4.7      Zero Morphemes in English 58
4.8      Verbs 59
4.10    Derivation in Afemai 61
4.11  Compounding in English 62
4.12     Plural Formation in English 63
4.13 Afemai Plural Formation 65
4.14 Compound Formation in Afemai 68
4.15  Reduplication 68
4.16    Verbs Inflection in English and Afemai 69
4.17    Adjectives 71
4.18    Presentation of Data 72
4.19  Similarities between Afemai and English 73
4.20    Differences between English and Afemai Affixations 75
4.21    Areas of Differences 77
4.22 RegularVerbs 77
4.23    Actual Learning Task of Afemai 81
4.24    Summary of Findings 81
4.25    Discussion of findings 82



5.1    Introduction 87
5.2      Summary 87
5.3      Conclusion and Recommendations 87
5.4      Contributions of the Study to Knowledge 88
5.5      Suggestions for Further Studies 88
5.6      Implications for Learning and Teaching 89
5.6.1       Implications for the Learner 91
5.6.2       Implications for the Teacher 91
5.7      Limitations 91




First Language (L1): The first language acquired by an individual. In some cases, it is the language of the parents‟ linguistic community.

Foreign Language (FL): A language spoken outside a learner‟s linguistic community, but learned for the purposes of reading, listening, traveling, business etc. The language might be used in the learner‟s community for administration, education etc. An example is French, Arabic, Englishetc in Nigeria.

Interlanguage (IL): This is a system resulting from a learner‟s attempted production of the target language (TL) norms.

Target Language (TL): A system as spoken by native speakers which the learners strive to acquire and speak as the native speakers do. In this study, English language is the TL for

Afemai speakers.

Inter-lingual: This means operating between one language.

Morphology: This is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of words.  TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language












C.A. Contrastive Analysis

M.T. Mother Tongue

LIC Language of the Immediate Community

SLA: Second Language Acquisition

  1. Error Analysis

CLA- Contrastive Linguistic Analysis

SDRH- Similarity Differential Rate Hypothesis

CAH- Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis

NL- Native Language or First Language of the Child or Learner


Appendix A: Corpus Data Research Instrument (CDRI)

Appendix B: Corpus Data Research Instrument (Afemai Words)

Appendix C: Africa Language Family

Appendix D: Sample Lesson Plan

Appendix E: Sample Application Letter to School

Appendix F: Pilot-Test Sample Questions

Appendix G: Interview




Figure 1:CA. Procedure Chart

Figure 2: Transformation Rules

Figure 3: Morpheme Chart





1.1       Background to the Study

Language could be studied from diverse dimension. It is the universal fabric that holds a community together. It is a medium through which, ideas, thoughts, culture, traditions of its people are expressed. Language influence the way things are perceive in once environment.  Language is an arbitrary representation of human vocal organ in writing or speech Lyons (2007). It is used systematically and conventionally by a speech community for the purpose of communication.  As a symbol of unity, it marks out an ethnic group even where there is distance in settlement, between speakers.

The study of how languages were differently structured began out of the interest to classify language families across the world Paki(2006). Nothing seemed of greater potential value to language learners than a comparative and contrastive description of the

learner‟s      mother     tongue      and      the      target      language.      Linguists      such      as

Adeyanju(2002),Yule(2007) and Jibir-Daura(2012) generally acknowledge the complex nature of language. Students of foreign languages soon findout the nature first language of the learner interferes in specific and predictable ways at acquiring a second language. Therefore, it is necessary to identify some problem areas where learners of foreign language are likely to find difficulty. Cross-language differences are prominent in Morphology. What is habitually a lexical meaning in one language may be a morphological in another.The National Policy on Education (2009) emphasizes the importance of language in the education process:

In addition to appreciating the importance of language, government shall ensure that the medium of instruction is principally the mothertongue or the language of the immediate community and to this end will develop the orthography of many more Nigerian languages and produce textbooks in Nigerian languages (NPE, 2004:08)


In spite of the importance of language in preserving culture and educational process, less has been done to encourage the study of minority languages. The written form of the child‟s mother-tongue is important as well as the spoken form. So long as some of these minority languages are not studied with the possibility of reducing them to writing, such languages are becoming extinct. Contrastive Analysis (CA) of the morphological structures of English and Afemai languages might indicate those morphological features possing learning difficulties to Afemai learners of English. The result would save such languages from the brink of death.

A contrastive study is concerned with a pair of languages and founded on the premise that languages can be compared. Ellis (1966) a comparativist cited in James (1983). Language may have its individuality; all languages have enough in common for them to be compared. Olaofe (2010) affirms that second language learners are more concerned with written system of the language than the spoken one. This consciousness drew the researcher taking keen interest on the complexity of Afemai language with English in the areas of Morphology. Morphology is the study of grammatical rules of word-formation in any language.

Remarkable scholarship on the present state of African languages commenced towards the end of the World War II (Paki 2006). Greenberg (1963) in McGregor(2010) identifies five language families on geographical basis rather than linguistics affinity. They include Afro Asiatic, Niger-Congo, Nilo Sahara, Khoisan and Austronesian. Afemai language belongs to the Kwa groups of the Niger-Congo.

Linguistic typology reveals that human languages are classified into several types according to which grammatical, phonological, morphological or lexical features they show preference for. Adeyenju (2002) observes that comparable description of two languages can be guaranteed if identical methods of description are used for the two.

In describing any language, Mathew (1974) is of the view that the four major aspects of Language- sounds, constructions meanings and forms of words should be given due attention. This implies a comprehensive description of Syntax, Semantics and Morphology. These four aspects do not function in isolation, but relate to one another. This interrelatedness is noticeable in Morphology.Morphology is concerned with the study and analysis of the structure, forms and classes of words. Morphology entails the breaking down of words in parts and establishing rules that govern the co-occurrence of those parts. Language can be compared morphologically by looking at their systems of affixations and the nature of the affixes themselves. This in turn, may lead to whether the Language employs prefixes and suffixes only or even infixes and to what extent. Hence, the classification of Language typology are either agglutinating, synthetic etc. Language use the morphological process of affixation to modify or elaborate on the meaning of words.

For instance, „omo‟ meaning child, „ivia‟ means children. Therefore „omo‟ is a singular and „ivia‟ plural.

Adegbija (2013) is of the view that the four major aspect of language-sounds, constructions, meanings and forms of words should be given due attention. This implies that a comprehensive description of any human language must include its Phonology, Syntax, Semantics and Morphology. These four aspects do not function in isolation, they relate to one another, noticed in Morphology. Hoberman(2013) argue that morphology is concerned with the study and analysis of the structures, forms and classes of words. Morphology entails the breaking down of words in parts and establishing rules that govern the co-occurrence of those parts.

The Nigerian speech community is multilingual. There is still linguistic controversy regarding the numbers. Adegbija (2013) declares that ignorant of the actual number of languages in Nigeria has been an embarrassing enigma to linguists, government and policy makers. Jibir-Daura (2012) observes that Nigerians have negative attitudes towards investigation, teaching, and learning of indigenous languages. They are contemptuous of their mother tongue and see no intrinsic value of its use as medium of instruction even at the initial stage of literacy. This supports Emenajo (1999) claims, that one either use his language or  lose it. It is indisputable that minority languages are not studied with a view to reducing them to writing. Therefore, the likelihood that they would gradually be reduced to the state of extinction may have begun.

Languages can be compared morphologically by looking at their systems of affixations and the nature of the affixes. This, in turn, may lead to whether the language employ prefixes aid suffixes only or even infixes and to what extent. Hence, classification of language typology as  agglutinating or synthetic. Languages use the morphological process of affixation to modify or elaborate on the meaning of words. For instance,omo means child, ‘ivia’means children. Therefore ‘omo’ is singular and ‘ivia‟ plural. Moreover, a derivational morpheme in a prefixes/suffixes position of adjective could be derived. For instance „omo no somi’(suffix) „egbe gbo omo‟ (prefixes).

Another fundamental value of comparing, is the discovery and description of the problems that learners of the languages would encounter. Ogundipo (2015) note, that we can predict and describe the problems that will cause difficulties by comparing systematically the language and culture to be learnt. Learners and speakers tend to transfer the forms, meaning and the distribution of forms and meanings of L1 to the foreign language.  A contrastive study could reveal the nature of the ideal learner-speaker basic knowledge competence.  It is assumed that teachers who went through the painful “business” of comparison of the languages (L1 and L2) will know better what the learning problems are. Olaofe (2010) assume that learners of foreign language find some features quite easy and others extremely difficult because the patterns are different fromtheir L1.

English language is arguable one of the most valuable assets left by Nigeria‟s colonial master. According to Aliyu (2006), it is a result of the multi-lingual and multiethnic nature of Nigeria and for administrative purpose, the English language has been adopted as L2. Babatunde (2002) affirms that the role of English language in a multilingual and multi-ethnic country such as Nigeria has been one of integration. Oyedokun- Alli (2014) substantiates this that English is the most enduring of the legacies of colonialism. He maintains that English remain the language of government, politics, mass media and all sort of social engagement for people from different languages.It is the language of education and medium of instruction in schools. This corroborates Adeyanju (2002) who states that English language in Nigeria has long championed the course of human co-operation in performing effectively the above roles. These show that the English language has such prominence in Nigeria than other Nigeria languages. In fact it is the official language of Nigeria.

In view of the importance attached to English, an average Nigeria is expected to have more than just a working knowledge of the language. To fulfil ones‟ role effectively in the society, one needs a good command of the language. It has become so important that we cannot avoid speaking and writing it in a way that is universally accepted. These presuppose that an appreciable degree of competence is expected from Afemai speakers and learners of English language.

Factors which indeed need more examination include knowledge and the effect of the learners‟ mother tongue on the target language (English). This confirms Oyedokun-Alli (2014) submissions that a bilingual speaker is probably never equally competent in both languages.  Lado (1957), Langakar (1972), Bollinger(1972), James (1983), Afolayan(1968), Banjo (2004) and Aliyu(2006) had through their works highlighted the importance of these factors.  Therefore, more works need to be done, as recent evidence point to these as factors responsible for the infelicities experienced in students language use.

In the view of Brown (2014), mother tongue interference continue to be regarded as the most obvious causes of difficulty which cannot be ignore. Little wonder, Williamson (1990) declares that the speech and writing of the foreign language has many mistakes which can be traced to the mother tongue. Lado (1957) in James (1983) underscores the effect of L1 on L2. He remarks that:

Individuals tend to transfer the forms and meaning and the distribution of forms and meaning of their language and culture to the foreign language and culture both productively and receptively when attempting to grasp and understand the language and culture as practiced by the natives (James 1983:14)


1.2       Brief History of Afemai

Afemai also spelled Afenmai are group of people living in the Northern part of Edo State, South geopolitical zone of Nigeria. Afemai people occupy six local government areas: Etsako West,Etsako Central,Etsako East,Owan East,Owan West and Akoko Edo. These make up the Edo-North Senatorial District. They are a multilingual speech community with dialects that are clans-based but mutually intelligible Acheoah (2012).

Afemai are also known as the Afenmai, Etsako, Estakor, Iyekhee, or Yekhee people.In Benin, they are known as Ivbiosakon. Afemai peoplehas  several documented dialects such asAuchi, Avainwu, Ekperi, North Ibie, South Ibie, Weppa-Wanno, Uneme, Uzairue, Owan, Ora and Okpella Okpamiri etc.Afemai is made of several kingdoms and clans with large villages and townships ruled traditionally by monarchs. Historical accounts claimed that they migrated from Benin, during the tyrannical rule of Oba Ewuare the great. A warrior, legend and the most outstanding king in the history of Benin Empire.

The title Ewuare (Oworuare), meaning “all is well” or the trouble has ceased and as a result the war is over. The title symbolize an epoch of reconciliation, reconstruction and the return of peace among the warring factions in Benin between 1435-1440 (Abiri 1996).

Afemai has a cluster of several interrelated dialects. There is insufficient literature highlighting her morphological structures to enable effective teaching and learning. This study will attract natives and non-native learner‟s attention to carry out more research on the language potentials. It could pave way for the standardization process of Afemai language and other minority languages in Nigeria and Africa in general.

1.3        Statement of the Problem

Most second language learners encounter various problems while trying to acquire the second or target language, particularly in non-native environment. The major influence is usually MT interference, sociolinguistic and or cultural environment where the learners live. Cross-language differences are prominent in Morphology. What is habitually a lexical meaning in one language may be a morphological item in another. Speakers and learners of other languages assume not only that the meanings are the same, but that they will be classified the same way.  In English, words often appear in their root or stem form, which is the most salient form. But in more morphological complex languages like Afemai the root or stem form may not be free. The lexical item might be encountered in different compounding or inflected forms. For example boy – boys, market – markets, farmer – farmers. Similarly, afemai has ozao – igi vizao, aki – aki nebu.

English and Afemai language belong to different phyla. Irrespective of the genetic non- relatedness, they might have certain similarities and differences enough for comparison and classification. Afemai is a major language in Edo state with a large population of learners that would need to effectively use English. It is envisaged that students may encounter difficulties in the grammatical rules of word-formation in English as L2. However, the problems are surmountable if points of difficulties in the target language are identified.




1.4       Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study are to:

  1. Identify types of morphological structures in English and Afemai languages.
  2. Describe areas of similarities of the structures between English and Afemai language.
  • Analyse areas of differences of the inflectional structures between English and

Afemai languages that might pose problem(s) to their learners.

  1. Predict areas of difficulties for the learners of Afemai and English languages.
  2. Suggest pedagogical implications for teaching and learning morphological structures in Afemai and English languages.

1.5        Research Questions

  1. What are the morphological structures of English and Afemai language?
  2. What are the similarities between the morphological patterns of English and Afemai languages?
  • What are the differences between the morphological structures of English and

Afemai languages?

  1. What are the areas that pose difficulties to Afemai learners of English as L2
  2. What are the learning and teaching implications of the similarities and differences in the morphological structures of English and Afemai languages?

1.6       Significance of the Study

This study would be of immense significance to learners, teachers, educationist etc.

with regards to the best strategy for teaching indigenous languages. It would expose learners to the structures, word-formation, plural of English and Afemai, morphemes etc. The study would help curricular developers especially with the new system of education in designing the curriculum to reflect the objectives of using indigenous language. Moreover, the study would provide insight to teachers of Afemai languageto select, evaluate or supplement existing teaching materials.  Williamson (1990) lends support to this fact, that in the preparation of teaching materials comparison of patterns of both languages and cultures enable the hurdles to be surmounted.

The findings would be of immense benefit in making available linguistic data about Afemai language. This could trigger off further research and documentation on the language and by extension other minority Nigerian and African languages on the verge of extinction.Findings of this study would have considerable implication to Afemai language learning and development. Ogundipo (2015) observed that comprehensibility of language should be the goal of any linguistic study, no matter the dialect learned.

The researcher has a firm belief that this study could enhance the maintenance of such minority languages. The work would be documented in print copies. Beside, generations would benefit from the study and give room for others to look at areas related to their study. Nigeria is a multi-lingual nation, to develop languages the National language policy stipulates that the child first three years of educational instruction be done in the mother tongue (MT). A contractive study of English and Afemai morphological process could be of immense importance to examination bodies, authors, and parents.

Schools would find this study relevant in making decision relating to contents selection, materials, and methods. Similarly, findings could be directed toward the most effective grammatical constructs that could influence best practices in preparing national examinations. Textbook writers could focus on materials that could enhance real grammatical construct and authentic for Afemai language development (Jegede 2013). This could be achieved by incorporating aspect of morphological forms different and possibly difficult for users of English.



1.7        Basic Assumptions

It is assumed that where there are points of differences in the two languages, contrastive analysis of this nature would be necessary, invaluable and worthwhile.

1.8        Scope and Delimitation

Afemai language has several dialects. The scope of the study would centre on selected morphological structures common in the dialects of Weppa-Wanno, one of the largest clan in Afemai. More so, that, there seems to be mutual intelligibility among the dialects (Acheoah2012).   


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