Igala Grammar: Homographs

    In English language, two words are said to be  ̀homographs’  if they are spelt the same way but have different meanings. In Igala speech, a single word, pronounced with different tone pitches, produces a set of homographs – words spelt the same way but vary in meanings;

  Example 1:

     From the unmarked word, ‘ọko,’ a speaker calls it using different tones; he can create three different words with three different meanings.

    1. ọ́kọ́ / ‘ɔ́ ‘kɔ́  /  (money)
    2. ọ́kọ  / ‘ɔ́  ̩ kɔ / (husband)
    3. ọ̀kọ̀ / ̩ ɔ̀  ̩ kɔ̀ / (millipede).

Example 2
The unmarked word, ‘awo,’ can generate three meanings as follows:        
  1. àwo / ̩à ‘wo /  (comb)                                                                                                    
  2.  àwò / ̩à  ̩wò /  (star)                                                                                     
  3. áwó / ‘a ‘wo /  (Guinea-fowl)                                                                                        
  4. àwó / ̩à ‘wó / (a slap) 

Example 3:

The unmarked word, akpa, depending on the tone used to pronounce it, could have three or more meanings, namely:

  1. ákpá / ‘á ‘kpá /  (sky)
  2. Àkpà / ̩à  ̩kpà / (Muslim)                                                                                                               
  3. àkpá / ̩  à  ‘kpá / (beetle)
  4. Ákpa /‘á ̩kpà / Ankpa, an eastern Igala town.

Example 4:

The unmarked word, agba, when pronounced in different ways, will produce four different meanings:

  1. Agba  / ̩a ̩gba / (Greeting)
  2. àgbá / ̩a ‘gba /  (handcuffs)                                                                                                       
  3. àgbà /  ̩à ̩gbà /  (chin)
  4. ágbá /‘a ‘gba /  (a tree)

Example 5:
     The unmarked word, ‘iga,’ can produce the following meanings, depending on the combination of tones used to pronounce it.
      1. ìga / ̩ ì ‘ga / (Weaver bird)
      2. ìgà / ̩ ì   ̩ gà / (net)
      3. ìgá / ̩ ì ‘gá / (estate)
 

Igala Grammar: Homographs

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