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A SEMANTIC ANALYSIS OF IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS IN ITU MBONUSO
1.0 Background of the Study
Idioms are common occurrences or phenomenon in our everyday conversation with people in various domains and have been the subject of academic research by scholars. Idiomatic expression is not deduced from the literal definition and arrangement of its constituent parts, but it is figuratively inferred through conventional usage. Idioms are colloquial metaphors which require some background knowledge, information or experience about the localized culture of reference.
An idiom is an expression which is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements or from the general rules of a language (F. Cogbalu & E. Emenanjo, 1975; p.186).
Idiomatic expressions are broad terms covering spoken expressions; it is an umbrella term for a wide range of prose traditions and oral literature. Idiomatic expressions are expressions that one’s knowledge of the individual words that make up the expression will not help one’s understanding of the meaning of expression. For example; “Clara a spilled the beans” meaning that “Clara revealed the secret”.
According to Eyo (1994; p.41) Idioms is an expression whose meaning is not decipherable through the knowledge of the individual meaning of the constituent words, but lies subtly beyond the words and within the depth of the expression.
A knowledge of idioms is an important part of understanding ordinary spoken English and in an effective way Latilo (1979). Idioms can be used when writing narrative and conversional essays and when writing friendly, informal or family letters.
To this end, the aim of this research is to provide as much information as possible about the use of idiomatic expressions in Itu Mbonuso language.
1.2 Historical Background of the People
Itu Mbonuso is in the Northern part of Ini Local Governments are of Akwa Ibom State and it takes almost a half of the area in terms of land mass. The origin of the Itu Mbonuso Clan like early history of the non-literate people has been a matter of speculation and controversy. Many traditions explain the origin and migration of Itu Mbonuso people.
One of the traditions has it that the history of the origin of the Itu Mbonuso people is essentially a part of the history of migration and dispersal of the “Efik Ibibio” people which resulted from the series of wars which prompted a band of people to take refuge in Ibibio land for fear of losing their lives. A large number of this immigrants settled at Uruan in Ibibio land, but this band of fugitives were after some years forced to more further following the wake of renewed hostilities in the 10th century. This stemmed from the refusal of the fugitives to worship Uruan Deity (Ata Okpo Ndem Uruan), and the immigrant intention to introduce worship of their origin native deity; Ndem Isong (God of the land).
The conflict generated from the controversy over the worship of their Deity ended in the flight of the migrants from Uruan, whereby a set of the fugitives settled at Ukwa and at Obot Etim in Ibibio land of Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, while some of the migrants settled at Okopedi Okobo in Oron and others fled to other part of Ibibio land.
However, some of their Efik cultures which the fugitives came with, had to undergo the process of decay as a result of oversight, the Ekpe and Obon societies survived the onslaught. In any case, other survivors including the days of worship of their gods, crowning of Osung, Obongs, and chiefs of different stratars, as well as burial ceremonies of priest. That of Osung and Obongs still remain the culture of the Itu Mbonuso people originated from Efik and kept on in practice while in Ukwa until today.
In Ukwa, a son to one Nkwei called Osung Udo left his father to settled with his kinsmen at Obot Etim, in present Itu local government area. A band of the wonderers came to settle on the upland part of Ibibio Land where it is called “Mbente” and Osung Udo chose to go far as to a piece of land after Mbiaobong Mbat in Ikono North and settled on the East and name the settlement after his own name “Nung Ikot Osung Udo” which remains up to present decade; but the land remains now with no inhabitants.
Nkwei had to set out in search of his son, Osung Udo, and when he couldn’t find him out, he had to retreat back to Ukwa. He searched for a safer place to make his harm let crossed and continued his expedition North-West of the creek until he finally decided to settle at where he thought was free from hostilities whatever. He suffered from lack of water and fishing ground which was his main hobby and occupation while in Ukwa. Having settled in his new abode, he finally met his son at the upper or northwest wards. After a passionate appeal, Osung Udo decided to visit his father where they both agreed that the place was after and plain enough for their settlement, then they finally named the place “Ananamong” because of lack of big streams and fishing grounds for their usual occupation.
In language affinity, Itu Mbonuso people speak in the same tongue with Ukwa, Nkari, Iwere, and Itu and slight difference from that of Ikpanya. The Itu Mbonuso people like the Israelites, there were twelve’s (12) original towns with over 75 sub-villages making up the clan. Ananamong had the following sub-villages which were; Usuk nwa, Ikot Ekei, Ikot Ibritan, Ikot Ukana and Obot Ndak.
Itu Mbonuso people have their cultural and traditional religion according to their traditional beliefs and days of worship which were set aside as sacred days as the Efiks. These deities are;
1. The great Ndem Isong which is the chief/ deity to all deities.
2. “Ekuri Enang”
3. “Abasi Ubom”
4. “Nyama Isong”
5. “Ediene Nyama”
6. “Ekandem Itob”
9. “Nkani or Nkangi”
10. Mbiam eron of oku
Mbiam Eninehi of Ananamong
Mbiam Ibit Ekpe of Ikot Essien
11. Mbasi Mbuyat (Esihi Akpan Abasi)
12. Afan Ikot Enwan of Ikporom
13. Ibuot Ikiahaebua – of Ebo etc.
The people of Itu Mbonuso are also Christians while some do worship the gods of their ancestors.
According to Connel (1994), Itu Mbonuso is a Lower Cross Language within the Cross River family of the (new) Benue Congo branch one of the largest language families in Africa according to Greenberg’s (1963) classification cited in Essien (1990; ix). However, Itu Mbonuso is generally related to Iburo, Itu, Nkari, Annang, Efik, Ibibio and Ukwa. This position however prompted Essien (1983) to refer to them as a cluster of dialects. This is represented in the diagram below