EJLLS Publication

Title: Enriching The Lexicon Of The Global Language: A Constraint–based Study Of Yoruba Borrowings In British English
Author(s): Ezekiel T. Bolaji, Wale Osisanwo & Oluyemisi Aina
Abstract: Studies in contact linguistics on Yoruba and English have often suggested that the English language has always loaned to the Yoruba language, with the latter not reciprocating in any significant way. It has often been assumed that Yoruba can never enrich the lexicon of a ‘superstrate’ language like English, or so the thinking goes. Such a narrow thinking precludes the need for any research in the opposite direction. This study argues that borrowings between Yoruba and English are bimodal –from top to bottom, and from bottom up. The latter is the focus of this study. The study argues that English borrowings from the Yoruba language are necessitated by linguistic needs rather than stylistic passion. Contrary to what obtains in literature, this study claims that such other-language-lone items are better described as non-established borrowing or borrowing for short, rather than nonce borrowing or codeswitching which may require a certain level of competence in both languages. Using 10 lexical items from three dictionaries, the study found that Yoruba borrowings in English enrich rather than weaken the grammatical potency of Standard English. In addition, the borrowed forms cannot yet be described as established loans. The findings further revealed that while the markedness constraint AGREEPLACE (nasal) requiring adaptation that favours RL morphophonological inventory is active in all cases considered; there is no such thing as tone-stress mapping in Yoruba borrowings in English. The study concludes that Yoruba borrowings in English have come of age; more studies will need to be conducted in order to discover their contributions to contact linguistics. The study recommends more research to be carried out in African contact linguistics.
Keywords: Borrowings, borrowing, Yoruba, British English, Optimality Theory