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Phonological Outcomes of Yoruba and English Contact on Urhobo

Nkechi Ukaegbu
Bestman Odeh
Ifeanyi Nwosu


The multi-lingual nature of Nigeria has made it typical that speakers of two or more languages have to interact with each other, and this natural phenomenon results in various degrees of linguistic, cultural, and social influences which are dependent on the dominance of the languages in contact. This study looks at one of the linguistic outcomes that result in such contact situations amongst Yoruba, English, and Urhobo in the Urhobo speech communities of Delta State. It also examines the possible implications of these adaptations for language change. Since phonological change is a universal characteristic of languages that may have far-reaching influences, when words are borrowed in the morphology as well as the syntax of languages, this study delimits its scope to examining specifically the phonological outcomes of English and Yoruba on Urhobo using some selected loan words. Data is elicited from interviewing six language consultants, who were also made to produce established loan words to evaluate how they are adapted into the structure of Urhobo. Findings show that phonological features like insertion (prosthesis and paragoge), syllable structure change, phonological substitution, free variation, and deletion are observed as these English loan words are adapted to suit the phonological structure of Urhobo. In contrast, the loan words from Yoruba are assimilated with little change into Urhobo.

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eISSN: 2026-6596