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Semantic prosody of the verb root -gbú ‘kill’ in Ìgbò

Martha Chidimma Egenti, Christiana Ngozi Ikegwuonu

Abstract


Semantic prosody (SP) involves the typical behaviour of words in lexical patterning and its tendency to line up with either positive or negative words. This work seeks to investigate the SP of the Igbo verb root gbú ‘kill’ in a bid to ascertain its propensity towards its collocates. Using the AntConc software to extract the data from the Igbo version of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe translated by Izuu Nwankwo, as well as adopting the Sinclarian approach/extended unit of meaning-oriented approach, the concordance result for the verb root gbú ‘kill’ reveals that there is preponderance of the collocates of the verb root co-occurring mostly with proper, common noun and abstract nouns with similar semantic features having negative aura of meaning such as war and suicide and things referring to related unfavourable-sounding state of affairs. The sense of negativity is retained in the compound construction that involves the verb, while the lexical environment of the verb depicts unfavourable events of fear, revenge, war, suicide, great depression. It can be concluded that, in spite of the strong negative SP of the verb gbú, it also has some positive meanings which are used in the idiomatic sense.

Keywords: Semantic Prosody, Collocation, Concordance, Lexical Semantics, Phraseology




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