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This research work is on A Contrastive Analysis of English and Tiv Sentence Structures. The study shows that English and Tiv languages are from different linguistic backgrounds and typologically have areas of differences in their sentence structures. These differences are in the internal composition of the sentence constituents and components and therefore pose learning problems for Tiv learners of English as a second language particularly in the formation of grammatical sentences but have not been given serious and proper scholarly investigation. Using the descriptive research method and tree diagrams (Phrase Markers) and tables to analyse the data collected, the differences and similarities between the English and Tiv sentences are descriptively revealed. The findings of the work show that the major difficulty that Tiv learners of English have is in the subject and object elements formation. While the noun phrases occupying subject and object positions in English take articles and other determiners pre-nominally, Tiv in nearly all cases take them post-nominally or do not use them at all. The nature of some Tiv sentences with implied or no subject and no clear gender dichotomy form part of the problem in the subject and object case formation in Tiv language. Despite the similarities the two languages have particularly in their structural subject-verb-object order in the simple, compound and complex sentences, Tiv learners of English face a lot of challenges posed by the differences above and the types and forms of sentences in English language. In order to overcome the above problems, this study recommends that teachers of English in Tiv domains and beyond should concentrate on the areas of differences in both languages and employ adequate teaching methods and instructional materials to eliminate the mother tongue interference in the Tiv learners use of English as a second language.  



1.1       Background of the Study

            This work is basically on A Contrastive Analysis of English and Tiv Sentence Structures. Sentence is a constructional unit at a higher level or equivalently a simultaneous bundle of ‘positions in grammar’; a bundle of ordered elements beyond the plerematic level. It is also recognized as a syntagm (Mulder qtd. in Akwanya 109). According to Azubike , sentence is the highest form of realization in language(89) which exists only where there is communication. All these point to the fact that sentence is an orderly organizational and constructional unit in verbal communication with standing structures, elements or components.

            The English language is rated in the multilingual nation, Nigeria, with about five hundred and ten living languages (Crozier  and Blench qtd. in Fakeye 183) and  (Tomori, Elugbe, Bamgbosi, Akindele and Adegbite qtd. in Farinde,94) as an indispensable, prestigious and official language of education, politics, judiciary, legislature, commerce, journalism, etc. Making a contrastive analysis of English sentence structures with the Tiv sentence structures becomes imperative as a result of the status of English in Nigeria vis-à-vis the mental preference of most Nigerian parents. Accordingly, Ogbonna confirms that parents have higher preference for the English medium than for out-right Mother Tongue (MT) medium (qtd. in Izuagba and Nwingwe 17).Babajide (1) substantiates the view that positive attitude for another language (English) can be due to the fact that the language integrates the speakers into a class higher than where they socially belong to or that it will be a lunch pad to their dream career or will lead to their social emancipation. This situation according to Arasanyin cited in Izuagba and Nwingwe (16) has led to a preference for English language in Nigeria and the result is the state of schizoglossia existing between English and indigenous languages which Tiv is a part.

            The term ‘Tiv’ in this work is restricted to its meaning referring to a language spoken by the Bantu splitter group of Niger-Congo language family. Unlike the English language, it is principally spoken by the Tiv people in about thirty-three local government areas across Benue, Taraba, Nassarawa, Cross River, Plateau states and some significant number in Cameroun (Gbor 9-10; Udu, Dooga and Isa 2; Udu 4). This language of the migrants from the Central Africa hill is today spoken by well over three million people with their spiritual headquartres in Gboko, Benue State. 

            The majority of this population is in rural areas and their medium of communication and every life transaction remains Tiv. However, Nigeria as a multilingual country has approved the conduct of every official function in English to avoid several predictable and unpredictable ugly developments. Examining the exalted position of English in the education system in Nigeria, the National Policy on Education (NPE 2004), sections 4 and 5 did not only recommend English language as the language of instruction from primary four to the tertiary level of education, it is also a compulsory subject to be studied and passed with a credit level in the secondary school. Moreover, most universities and other tertiary institutions now emphasize a credit pass as a sine qua non for admission. This situation agrees with the popular educators’ remark that poor performance in English language leads to poor performance in other subjects since the language has been ‘the barometer with which the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of our school curricula are measured’ (Eyisi 3). Emphasis on English language in Nigerian education system shows that competence in the language gives an individual some identifiable benefits nationally and internationally. Kachiru confirms the view that:

Competence in English and the use of this language signify [sic] a transmutation: an added potential for material and social gain and advantages. One sees this attitude in what the symbol stands for: English is considered a symbol of modernization and an extra arm for success and mobility in cultural and linguistically complex and pluralistic societies. (1)

            Despite all these advantages and prestige accorded to the English language in Nigeria, there are observable and written reports that most candidates and Nigerian users of the language record disability in their grammatical expressions. It is also an incontestable fact that good writing stems from adequate familiarity with grammatical components of a language (Eyisi 1).

            Language has structures that are rule-governed and systematic in nature. Following this assertion, Tremholm looks at language as a rule-governed system of symbols that allow the users to generate meaning and in the process, to define reality (82). Despite the arbitrary nature of language, Gimson affirms that it has pattern of conventions, rules covering sound units, the inflections and arrangement of ‘words’ and the association of meaning with words(4) that learners of English as a second language have to brace up with for proficient performance. From the above view of these scholars, Oyewo concludes that, every language exhibits certain important characteristics; it is made up of symbols, it is rule-governed; it is productive and it affects individuals’ view of the world. Language having components, it is made up of phonology, grammar (syntax), semantics and pragmatics (164).

            The study of sentence formation and structure is the basic preoccupation of the component of language called syntax. Syntax is therefore defined as the study of the rules whereby words or other elements of sentence structure are combined to form grammatical sentences. Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams explain further that ‘syntactic rules determine the order of words in a sentence, and how the words are grouped’ (123). Syntax is a traditional term for the study of the rules governing the way words are combined to form sentences in a language; the linear representation of words in a sentence (Crystal 471; Azubike 89). From the above considerations on syntax, one is right to claim that every language including Tiv has its own structure, pattern of arrangement of words and other syntactic components.

            Since the theory of contrastive analysis rests on the premise that there are structural differences between L1 and L2 and these differences generate difficulties which contrastive analyst tries to predict (Onuigbo and Eyisi 75), this study aims at contrasting English and Tiv sentence structures. The specific aim here is to carry out the synchronic study of the English sentence structure as L2 and Tiv as L1 to draw out the differences and similarities at the sentence level in terms of the classification (nature) and functions for pedagogical purposes.

            It is also the hope of the study that the structural analysis of English and Tiv sentences will help the L2 teacher to identify or predict possible areas of difficulties in the learner’s target language and as well proffer possible solutions which will be of help in the teaching of English as a second language.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

            Every language of the world has its own sentence pattern or structure. English and Tiv are two different languages with dissimilar linguistic origins, ‘character’ condition (Foucault  qtd. in Akwanya 225) and even rules of sentence formation that make them naturally different. It is obvious that the structural differences in English and Tiv sentences create problems in the teaching and learning of English, the target language. In this work the research intention is to find out the similarities and dissimilarities that exist between the two languages as well as the implications which this linguistic difference may have on the adequate teaching and learning of English, the second language. It is to be expected that speakers of the languages experience problems due to the fact that the sentence constituents and the syntactic arrangements of the two languages are slightly different in nature. In this situation, it is expectedthat contrastive analysis of English and Tiv sentence structures will be of pedagogical benefit to the Tiv learners of English as a second language.

            Since no serious and proper scholarly work has been done on this aspect of syntactic analysis of English and Tiv sentence structures, this research is set to fill this vacuum.

1.3       Purpose of the Study

            The influential position of English as an official as well as the language of politics, education, judiciary, legislature, commerce etc in Nigeria creates the expectation that every learner of the language or an educated user of the language should attain proficiency in it despite his/her linguistic background. Specifically, the study intends to:

1    draw out the sentence patterns of both English and Tiv;

2    identify the areas of similarities in the sentence structures of the English and Tiv languages;                        

3        describe the differences between the English and Tiv sentence structures;

4        point out the pedagogical implications of the similarities and differences in English and Tiv sentence structures; and

5        provide possible solutions to the problems discovered in the course of study.

1.4       Research Questions

            This study seeks to answer the following questions:

1.      To what degree do the English and Tiv sentence structures differ from each other?

2.      To what extent do English and Tiv sentence structures have similarity with each other?

3.      What are the pedagogical problems that the Tiv learner of English will encounter with English sentence structures?

1.5       Significance of the Study

            This study will be of a great significance in the following ways:

1.      It will enable the learners to realize the sentence patterns of the two languages and therefore be able to draw out the differences and similarities between them. This will have a positive impact on their learning of English.

2.      Based on the contrastive analysis, teachers will get help to focus on the areas of differences to enhance students understanding of the sentence structure of the target language (English).

3.      The study will help authors and teachers of English as a second language to anticipate and predict what their Tiv students are likely to encounter during sentence formation. This will as well equip teachers with possible solutions to their learners’ challenges.

4.      The curriculum designers/planners will find help in this study and therefore re-fashion school curricula and syllabuses to reflect sentence patterns of both languages in Tiv communities/schools.

5.      The educationists and theorists will gain insight into the study, hence incorporate the knowledge gained in propounding theories that can be applied in these languages and others in formal school system.

6.      The study will improve the grammatical or syntactic knowledge of Tiv learners and prepare such learners to boundless development of the language.

7.      The work will serve as an important reference document in libraries for scholars.

1.6       Scope and Delimitation of the Study

            Language has several aspects that can be studied. These aspects include phonology, syntax, semantics and morphology. However, this study falls within the area of syntax, which is a part of grammar. This research work covers only the sentence types classified according to structure in English and Tiv languages. The study could have addressed all issues in grammar such as lexical categories, groups, phrases and clauses but because of time constraint and specification of the programme, the researcher has looked at the sentence which is the highest realization in every language.   

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