Meaning and Thematic Roles in the Igbo Language

  • CO Okeke


Semantics is an aspect of linguistic study that investigates the meaning of words and sentences in languages. Scholars from different disciplines like philosophy, logic, anthropology, psychology and linguistics are interested in exploring the nature of meaning. But linguistics differs from these disciplines because it investigates meaning in a systematic and objective pattern. As people’s experiences and world view change, so do the meanings they associate to word change. Therefore, meaning is a concept usually influenced by different factors. An utterance can be interpreted in diverse ways depending on the emotional disposition of the speaker at the time of making the utterance. Because of this, the intended meaning of an utterance may be different from the meaning perceived by the receiver of the message. By adopting the thematic approach to the study of meaning, this paper x-rays the different dimension of meaning with special emphasis on the investigation of theta roles in the Igbo language. The paper argues that as part of its inherent lexical specification, a verb or a preposition requires its arguments (which are usually nouns) to be in specific thematic roles because where there is one argument, there is one theta function; and the semantic interpretation of a particular object is the determining factor for the type of theta role the argument will be assigned.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1595-1413