Headedness in Igbo derivational morphology

  • George Onwudiwe


Until the 80s, the term ‘head’ was only used in syntax to describe types of phrase (endocentric phrases). It served as a central element distributionally equivalent to the phrase as a whole. During this period, little or no attention was paid to the study of complex words which themselves should also have heads, given their structure. Even on the eventual extension of the term to morphology, different scholars, as well as languages have differing assumptions about which of the affixes in a complex word should be the head. Thus, while some scholars generalised that the head would be consistently be located on the right hand side, others argue that in some languages, both left-handed and right-handed head occur. The apparent confusion generated by these arguments motivated many scholars, hence this study to determine to determine headedness in the Igbo derivational morphology. To account for the derivation of nominals and adjectives from the cognate verb sources in Igbo, the study adopted the projection principles as theoretical framework. It was finally discovered, among other things, that the Igbo verb is the most prolific lexical category in word formation in the language. Again, the study discovered and therefore posited that Igbo adopts the left-hand-head rule as a strategy in derivational morphology, contrary to the hitherto held and generalised notion of right-hand-head rule.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2227-5460
print ISSN: 2225-8604