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Comparative Analysis compares two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor feature by feature, in order to extrapolate back to infer the properties of that ancestor. This work examines and analyses negation in Itu Mbon Uso and Igbo languages phonologically, morphologically and syntactically in a bid to identify the similarities that occur between the two languages studied. This research work is done using the survey researcher methodology and the informants used are two (2) literate natives of Itu Mbon Uso and two (2) literate natives of Igbo between the ages of 35-60. This work analyzed the data collected qualitatively, using comparative analysis as the theoretical frame work. The findings of this work show that negation in Itu Mbon Uso and Igbo differs phonologically, morphologically and syntactically. It is also discovered that although Itu Mbon Uso and Igbo differ in some ways, they are also similar in a way because Itu Mbon Uso and Igbo negation use prefixes and suffixes in marking negation. Thus, this work recommends that the younger generation be taught negation in their native languages and other neighboring languages from a tender age and that this work be used as a spring-board for further researches in the area of negation in Itu Mbon Uso and Igbo languages.



1.1             Introduction                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Language, according to Anagbogu, Mba and Eme (2010:1) is a means which human beings have devised for communicating ideas, feelings, emotions, desires and so on, through complex vocal or written symbols. This research work is concerned with negation. Negation to Essien (2008:96), is a syntactic and phonological device by which a positive proposition is denied or said to be untrue or by which a positive imperative order is prohibited among other things.

In every word or sentences uttered in our present world, there must be an act of denial, contradiction or misinterpretation. This is so because, as humans we have our different views. A universal property of natural language is that every language is able to express negation. Every language has some device at its disposal to reverse the truth- value of a certain sentence. However, languages may differ to quite a large extent as to how they express negation.

In this work, negation in Itu Mbon Uso and Igbo languages will be surveyed.

1.2       Background of the Study

Negation, according to Essien (2008:96), is a syntactic and phonological device by which a positive preposition is denied or said to be untrue or by which a positive imperative order is prohibited among other things.

            According to Huddleston (1976:70), negatives can be dealt with more quickly because the problems they raise are very similar to those associated with interrogatives.  He considers only simple constructions marked by the presence of ‘not’ and this excludes negatives like “nothing satisfies her”, “I saw neither John nor Bill” and contracted forms like “John hasn’t seen mark”.

            According to Crystal (2008:323), negation is “a process of construction in grammatical and semantic analysis which typically expresses the contradictions of some or all of the sentence meaning”. Also, in Standard English, negative clauses and sentences commonly include the negative particle ‘not’ or the contracted ‘n’t’. Other negative words include: no, none, nothing, nobody, never, etc. due to the intricate nature of language, negation is best studied alongside affirmative.

1.2.1    Historical Background of Itu Mbon Uso Language

Itu Mbon Uso is one of the clans in Ini Local government Area of Akwa Ibom State. There are no people without history of real origin, migration and settlement. Itu Mbon Uso like early history of any other non-literate society has been a matter of speculation and controversy. Many traditions explain the origin and migration of Itu Mbon Uso people, but the varied nature of these traditions has made it difficult to arrive at definite conclusions yet the history of Itu Mbon Uso hold concrete facts collected from aged long custom from ancestors. The history and origin of the people of Itu Mbon Uso is not from a formal written records, but oral evidence, rehearsed through the past aged elders and royal fathers. Although, the origin, migration and settlement of Itu Mbon Uso people is best defined in oral tradition, some various scholars, writers also had some articles that can account for the history, origin, migration and settlement of Itu Mbon Uso people. Thus, Akpan (1986), in his view says that the history of the origin of Itu Mbon Uso people is essentially a part of the history of migration and dispersal of the Efik –Ibibio people which resulted from the sense of wars fought during the ancient time. Ekong (1983) also posited that the people migrated due to the conflicts that generated from the controversy over the worship of Uruan deity which ended in the fight that led the migrants to settle in Ukwa and Obot Etim in Ibibio land of Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

            However, Ndom (1989), states that the history of Itu Mbon Uso is like the Israelites. There were twelve original ancient towns with over 75 sub-villages making up the clan. According to him, these sub-villages were merged up in the name of towns according to the then administration of the colonial masters who were directed by the Igbos.

1.2.2    Historical Background of Igbo Language

Igbo language is one of Nigeria’s major languages following the official definition of Nigeria. Igbo language belongs to the Nigeria Kordofanian language family in Africa, a sub-group of Niger – Congo and a branch of Kwa group spoken as a major language.

Greenberg (1966), as observed by Comrie (1987:20), reduce the near-chaotic linguistic situation in Africa to order by positioning a four-way classification of the languages of Africa in the north, the Afro-Asiatic in the North-East of Sub-Sahara Africa, the Nilo-Sahara family; in the South west corner of Africa, the Khoisan – family (with two outliners, Sandawe and Hatsa, in Tanzania). The remaining part of the African continent, from the Atlantic to the Indian ocean is covered by the Niger­­ – Kordofanian (or Congo – Kordofanian) family, comprising such branches as Mande, West Atlantic Gur, Kwa, Bantu, Adamawa and Eastern, which Kwa as a part of the group indicates where Igbo as a major language in Nigeria is found, Agbedo ( 2000:25).

The Igbo language is divided into numerous regional dialects, and somewhat mutually intelligible with the larger “Igboid” cluster fardon (1994). The Igbo homeland straddles the lower Niger River, east and south of Edoid and Idomoid groups, and west of Iboid (Cross River) cluster. In rural Nigeria, Igbo people work mostly as craftsmen, farmers and traders, Agwu (2008). However, it has a few other languages, whose speakers are also fluent in like: the Itu Mbon Uso (Abia, spoken in Bende local government area), the Ete, Adada (Enugu) and the Okpoto, Ntezi, Ofrekpe and so on spoken in Ebonyi Udoh ( 2004:52).

1.2.3    Linguistic Classification of Itu Mbon Uso Language

Genetically, Itu Mbon Uso belongs to the lower-cross language group. Cornnell (1994), Urua (1996) and Essien (2001) classifications grouped Itu Mbon Uso among the lower cross group of language, which is a sub group of the Delta Cross which is in turn a sub-group of the New Benue – Congo language family

The above classification would be represented diagrammatically as stated in the next page:

    Upper Cross



Itu Mbon Uso




New Benue - Congo

Eastern Benue - Congo

Bantoid Cross

Cross River

Delta Cross

Central Delta


    Lower Cross




















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