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In the current Igbo linguistic demand for a dear-cut dialectal description, analysis of the phonological aspect of various Igbo dialects becomes fundamental. It is in answer to this need that this study was conceived. The study attempts at describing some processes of the Amichi phonology with the view to bringing out their areas of peculiarity and or commonality with other dialects of the Igbo language. Subsequent to the establishment of the exigencies, some related literatures were reviewed. This shaped our conceptions of the variables and prepared us for the studies proper. From the four strata of the study area, our data were drawn from 16 resource persons (4 from each stratum) randomly selected. The analysis focused on various assimilation processes, vowel harmony, segment deletion and insertion, coalescence, palatalization and, vowel and consonant reduction in Amichi dialect. Some outstanding peculiarities were found as well as area of conformity with the standard form. These findings and recommendation are shown in the last chapter of this study.
Language has inseparably co-existed with man from time immemorial. Beside its inseparability from human existence, it has remained a do-without aspect of the human existence. It is strongly rooted and relevant in all spheres of man’s endeavour. It is biologically, socially, psychologically and economically rooted or relevant. The use of language are numerous. One of its uses seldom mentioned is its use as a tool for racial stratification of the human society. One race differs from another not always in colour but in language.
Differences across various language of the world are manifest in different levels of linguistic analysis. In other words, different languages have different ways of structuring their linguistic element at the sound level, lexical level, phrasal/sentential level and meaning level. Of all these levels of linguistic structures in different languages, the most fundamental, manifesting and of course, important is the level of “sound structure”. It manifests obviously even between two mutually intelligible speech variants. Argued from this perspective, sound system, technically called phonology is the foundation of language, the widest of all the levels of analysis and the most complex of all. In fact, the study or understanding of any language starts from its sound system: the sound inventory, combining of single sound segments into sequence of meaningful strings, mutual co-occurrence and influence sounds have on one another in various tempo/speed of speech, etc. This makes study of any phonological aspect of any language a very unboring pursuit.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Human sound is different from other sounds because of its patterning according to phonological principles: the principles that govern the organization of sounds in a particular language. What is meant by this is that each language is phonologically organized differently from another. The study of how sounds are patterned in a language paved way to the rise of phonology which, concisely can be defined as the arrangement of sound in a language to form speech patterns.
The main task of phonology, according to Anagbogu et al (2001:75) is to understand or describe how sequences of sounds can convey meaning. They emphasized its importance by stating that communication process cannot be fully understood unless how sounds of language organize themselves into meaningful units are first understood. Ngwuta (1988:1) stated similarly when he said: “knowledge of the sound system should be the first step in an effective study of any language”. Unfortunately, as Ngwuta notes, more works are done on Igbo language generally at the grammar/syntax level with very Uttle on its phonology. This has caused paucity of knowledge of some phonological peculiarities among the various dialects of Igbo.
It is against this background that this work was conceptually motivated. This work is, therefore, poised to cooking at the sound system of Amichi, a dialect of Igbo spoken in Nnewi, Anambra State. It shall analyze some phonological processes in the dialect with the view to highlighting its peculiarities.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
It has been noted that the understanding of the sound level of a language/dialect is basic to the understanding of the entire linguistic structure of such language or dialect. Quite unfortunately, however, such basic steps have been ignored as it touches various dialects of Igbo language, consequent upon which most of the interesting peculiarities of such dialects are buried in generic statement borne out of superficial study of other dialects or the standard Igbo. This situation has led to many dialect users maintaining that their dialects are the same as the standard Igbo. This is particularly so talking about dialect spoken in Anambra state, Amichi for one. What a situation like this portends is that the linguistic criteria of measuring variance among languages or dialects have been left for the user to define by their ignorance of linguistic principles.
If linguists do not rise and stamp their feet now, by using universal tools of linguistic analysis, phonological tools among, to convincingly bring to bare the peculiarities in the various dialects of Igbo, time shall come when such distinctive elements, which are the beauty of the dialects shall be lost to the present prevalent linguistic ignorance. This would not augur well with the effort to have all dialects of Igbo properly studied and juxtaposed with the principle of universal grammar.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This research work is targeted at providing a description of some aspects of phonological processes that operate in Amichi dialect of Igbo language. It will x-tray some combinatory possibilities and principles in real speech situations in the dialect.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The significance of this study is numerous. First, in the absence of many other works done in Amichi, which focused on its phonology, this will serve as one foundational work upon which future researchers would build. It will serve feature as reference material much as it will open more channels to related topics for feature studies.
Secondly, the work will be a effort of Igbo linguists to have Igbo properly analyzed. interesting peculiarities at processing level of contribution to the various dialects of Highlighting some the phonological Amichi would also draw more attention of other linguist to the dialect.
Above all by the time clear answer are provided for all the research question. This work would have contributed immensely to the pool of linguistic language generally.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTION
In pursuance of the purpose of this work, the following questions have been posed as a general guide to the analysis of the data.
1. To what extent can the sound system of Amichi be described?
2. To what extent do vowel and consonants enter into the formation of syllables in Amichi?
3. To what degree are the phonological processes of Amich describable?
16 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This work is centred on and limited to the description of some aspects of the phonological processes in Arnichi dialect of Igbo language. Some of the processes earmarked for examination include:
Various types ol secondary articulating Assimilation, Elision or Delection, Vowel Harmony and Coalescence.
1.7 BRIEF HISTORY OF AMICHI
The man Amichi is the 5 son of “Okotu” Okotu had five direct sons namely Adazi Nnuwu, Adazi Enu, Adazi Ani, Ichida an Amichi.
Amichi had four (4) sons namely Okpala which is the first son, Udanna, Atuba and Ebenassa. These four sons formed the kindred of Amichi. Okpala, which is the eldest, h five (5) sons they are Ebenato Okpala, Obiagu, Eziama, Obiofa, and Uhuachasli. Udanna also had four (4) sons Ebenato Udanna,
Okpooro, Umudim, Umuakwahi. Afouba had one son Ojiezeka, Ebannasa also had one son named Isokaa
All these four (4) sons kindred form the town Amichi. Amichi had three (3) political division and these three division produce the 4 representative form of Amichi in Nnewi South Local Government Area.
1.8 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The methods employed in data collection and analyses are stated below.
This study, geographically and linguistically speaking is restricted to Amichi area and dialect.
1.8.2 SAMPLING TECHNIQUE
A total of 16 persons where used as resource persons. They supplied the bulk of the data used in this study. Their selection followed the stratified random sampling method. The four kindreds of Amichi were considered the four strata from each of which 4 persons were selected, making the 16 used.
1.8.3 SOURCES OF DATA
Data were drawn mainly from primary sources, which include face-to-face interview, direct observation and the researchers intuition as a native speaker of the dialect, Amichi. However some data, but very few were collected from secondary source like textbooks, articles and other written materials.
1.8.4 METHOD OF DATA ANALYSIS
All the data collected were subjected to pure descriptive analysis. I other words, descriptive method was adopted in the analysis of the data.
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