Allomorphs in the Igbo Language: An Optimality Theory Approach
Allomorphs are any two or more morphemes that have different forms but perform the same grammatical functions in different linguistic environments. The optimality theory claims that the Universal Grammar is a set of violable constraints and that language-specific grammars rank these constraints in languagespecific ways. The linguistic phenomenon has not been approached in the Igbo language from the optimality point of view. This research work therefore, attempts to analyze how this morphological terminology is applicable to the Igbo language. Optimality theory of Prince and Smolensky (1993) was the adopted theoretical framework and data for the study were collected through generation of words from the researcher’s intuitive knowledge of the language. The findings were that using the GEN and EVAL of the input and output of optimality theory that there are many allomorphs in the language due to variant realization of infinitives, gerunds, past tense markers, particles, noun agents, noun instruments, among others. The allomorphs were necessitated due to the fact that the language under study is a rule governed language strictly under the command of vowel harmony.