Analysis of a Phonological Variation in Oraukwu Dialect of Igbo: A Case of the Phoneme / Ɩ / for /r/.

  • EE Okafor


This paper is an analysis of the use of the phoneme /Ɩ/ for /r/ in Oraukwu dialect of Igbo. It takes into cognizance the phonetic – phonological variability of ordinary speech. Oraukwu speakers virtually do not use the phoneme /r/ in their speech. Rather, the use phoneme / / where the phoneme /r/ should occur. For instance, /Ọraukwu/ is spelt /Ọraukwu/ but it is called /Ọlaukwu/ by Ọraukwu community. Quite important to this work is the fact that the researcher interacted with a number of people that make up the various villages in Oraukwu. Among the people interviewed are the older living generation ranges from age 51-80, who have lived a greater proportion of their lives in Oraukwu, and therefore have less formal education. They also have not as heavily influenced by cross-linguistic/cultural contacts and have not worked in highly hierarchical organisation. On the other hand, she interviewed the younger living generation ranges from age 20-50, who have lived a lesser proportion of their lives in Oraukwu, precisely from childhood to adolescent. They have more formal education both in Oraukwu and in cities. They also have more cross-linguistic/cultural contact, and are working in highly formal hierarchical organization. To determine the use of the phoneme / Ɩ/ for /r/ in Oraukwu community, oral interview was administered to them. It was discovered that Oraukwu speakers use the phoneme / Ɩ/ for /r/ in their speech, but in writing they use the phoneme /r/. The paper however, adduces an analytical explanation based on phonetic-phonological reasons for the occurrence of both phenomena. The work starts with the introduction: the Igbo language, a brief history of Oraukwu dialect; and the concept of phonology. It examines the phonemes /Ɩ/ and /r/ as phonetic and phonological segments, as well as their feature matrixes. It finally analyses data collected from Oraukwu speakers and draws the logical conclusion.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0075-7640
print ISSN: 0075-7640