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PLURAL MARKING IN OBOLO
Plural is a grammatical form that designates more than one of the things specified. In many languages, including Obolo, English and various languages, have the plural form and also various ways of marking plural. Plural marking is a process of indicating plurality in a word, sentence or phrase.
Plural markings across languages fall into two types; inflectional and non-inflectional. According to Wiltschko (2008:26), languages such as English, French, German etc. where plural marking is inflectional, the choice between the expression of singularity and plurality is a forced one. On the other hand, in languages such as Halkomelem, Salish, among others, where plural marking is non-inflectional the choice between the expression of singularity and plurality is not a forced one. Witness the following examples:
1a. book – books English
1b. livre-s – books French
Inflectional plurality is a process whereby plurality is marked on a noun by affixation which in most cases is a suffix. On the other hand, non-inflectional plural marking is reflected by a morpheme or word that is not indicated for pluralization (schane 1973:12, wiltschko 2008:27, 28).
According to Essien (2008:91); in Ibibio, in addition to the concord marker, there must be a marker for plural indication, if the situation;
2a. Is one repeatedly;
2b. Affects more than one person or thing;
2c. In some cases is done by more than one person.
This system of marking plurality is similar to what Langacker (1972:65:66) refers to as ‘process morpheme’ in American Indian language called Diegueno. According to Langacker; “A verb is marked plural in Diegueno if its subject or object is plural or designate”. Cook (1969b:16) also report similar situation in kohumono, which is spoken by the Ba-humono people in Obubra in Cross River state. According to Cook:
Many Kohumono verbs have related verbs (usually a reduplication of the original one combined with a suffix associated with them which the informant chooses to call the ‘plural’ of the verb represent: plural verbs usually carries the meaning of the repeated, sustained or continuous action, or action of a large number of objects. This is also the case in Ibibio language as indicated in the examples below;
3a. Bed windo – ‘Shut the window’
3b. Beed windo - ‘Shut the windows’
This study will show how plurals are marked in Obolo language and the rules that govern plural marking in Obolo. It will also show the syntactic formation of plural markings in Obolo language. Some examples will be given in other languages.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Plural marking is essential to all languages that have singular forms. There are different ways of marking plural in all languages. Some languages uses morpheme (prefix or suffix) to mark plurals. An example is the English Language that uses the morpheme /s/ as shown in this example [boy/s/]. Some languages mark plural by doubling the vowel sounds, while some forms are constant like those of the language. In other languages, some plural forms are the same with the singular forms example in Obolo language; ‘ikpa’ – ‘book’ and ‘ikpa’ – ‘books’. Plurality can be marked in different ways in different languages as shown in Essien (2008:91). For instance, English language uses two main methods in marking plural forms as indicated by the following examples; sheep, rice, most of these words falls under uncountable nouns. Ibibio language also has its own way of marking plural and so does Obolo language.
The word plural was gotten from the latin word ‘pluralis’ (belong to many). This word was borrowed by French which calls it plural and during the Middle English it was called plurelle. According to William .W. (1985) “there are three numbers, the singular, the dual and the plural. The dual is sometimes used to denote two objects, but even here the plural is more common”. Some languages have dual forms. Dual form is a word which potentially refers to something other than one, person or thing. Dual forms designate more than one thing but not more than two. While ‘plural forms’ designates more than one or two of a thing specified. Plural marking is a way of indicating plurality in a word, sentence or phrase.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
Plural marking has been accounted for in written forms in most languages but no direct work on plural marking is accounted for in Obolo language. The rule on how to mark plural in Obolo language is not known, and the number of systems used in marking plural in Obolo language is not also known. Since plural marking is an essential aspect of linguistic, knowing how to mark plurals in Obolo language in particular and lower – Cross languages in general is essential.
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
This research project aims at:
i. identifying the plural markers in Obolo language.
ii. examining the various forms of plural in Obolo language.
iii. identifying the rules that govern plural markings in Obolo language.
iv. discovering if plural markers occur as affixes in Obolo language
v. establishing the grammatical level (morphological and syntactic) at which plural marking is found.