The Conditional Clause in Igbo

  • O Okoro


It is a well established fact that no two linguistic codes are ever the same in their sound systems, morphology, syntax, meaning mechanisms, and so on. When two such languages co-exist in a contact situation – with all the far-reaching implications of this – the need arises to conduct a methodic contrastive study of selected aspects of the two languages to discover their linguistic similarities and differences and thereby give an insight into the implications of such similarities and differences for teaching and learning purposes. In line with this, we restrict ourselves in this paper to the grammar of Igbo, and the aspect identified for detailed contrastive study with English is the conditional clause. Our investigation reveals that just as in English, the conditional clause is one of the adverbial clauses in Igbo, and it proposes the condition under which something would or would not happen; that there are three types, which respectively express possibility; regret; and a wish, desire, denunciation or recommendation; that the verb form in the first type is usually present, past, continuous or future tense, but only past or past perfect in the second type, and present or past tense in the third type. Structurally, the conditional clause can occur before or after the main clause, dropping or taking on a variety of subordinating conjunctions, the commonest of which is (mà) ọ bụrụ na; it is also possible to state only the conditional clause without the main clause, or the main clause without the conditional clause, with the missing clause usually quite obvious from the context. Finally, it is also quite possible to express the conditional clause as an independent statement all on its own. The study thus reveals that the conditional clause in Igbo is semantically and syntactically versatile, sharing numerous characteristics with its counterpart in English, but exhibiting distinct peculiarities as well.

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eISSN: 0075-7640
print ISSN: 0075-7640