Publisher: Lead City University

Old Words, New Meanings: A Survey of Semantic Change Amongst Yoruba-English Bilingual Undergraduates

Anjola A. Robbin
KEYWORDS: Semantic Change, Extended Meaning, Language, Blank’s Theoretical Principles for Semantic Change


Language functions best when it serves the communicative intent of its users, even if such is achieved by adding, removing or modifying the existing meanings of words. This development and change of the semantic structure of a word usually brings about qualitative and quantitative development of the vocabulary. The focus of this paper is to review semantic change that has occurred with some Yoruba words, its types and the motivations of such especially amongst undergraduates using Blank Andreas’s principles and motive for semantic change as theoretical framework. The tool used for the study is a selfconstructed questionnaire administered to Yoruba-English Bilingual and a corpus of words that have undergone semantic change frequently used by them. The findings reveals that using words that have undergone meaning change is a frequent occurrence amongst Yoruba- English Bilingual undergraduates, a habit motivated by linguistic, psychological, sociocultural and cultural/encyclopedic forces. Also, it was found that the principles similarity, contiguity and contrast. as highlighted by Blank underlie all the types of semantic changes identified.

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