This study is a research on the topic: “A Comparative Analysis of Word formation Processes in English and Hausa”. This work aims to serve as a reference material to subsequent studies in English and Hausa languages in their various components of linguistic structures. It would also provide a framework for the study and analysis of the word-formation processes in English and Hausa. The study would also add to the research findings and meta-theory in linguistics thus, contributing to the current trend of intellectualism from the point of view of language. The work also attempts to enumerate and compare some of the word-formation processes in English and Hausa, such as acronyms, affixation, alternation, backformation, blending, borrowing, clipping, coinage, compounding, and reduplication. A sample descriptive approach was employed in the analysis of the data collected for this research. Thus, the procedure followed is a synthesis of the analytical comparative model of Nida (1949) and the stages of linguistic analysis of Carl (1996). Therefore, some of the research findings are that English and Hausa use some processes to create some words; that affixation is one of the processes found in both English and Hausa; that some of the processes discussed here could be found in one and not in the other
language, etc. Finally, it contains brief conclusion.




The work is an attempt to compare the word – formation processes in two languages: English and Hausa. This chapter, therefore, attempts an introduction of the work. Thus, it contains the background of the study, the nature of morpheme, the historical perspective of the Hausa language, the statement of the research problem, the aims of the study, the justification of the study and the scope of the study.
The twentieth century is very important in the history of linguistics. This is because many linguistic theories came to the lime-light and many linguists initiated many theories in different fields of linguistics, which are morphology, syntax, semantics and phonology. For instance, it was at this period that in morphology the different approaches to identify morphemes and the relationship between morphemes and words were made manifest. The free encyclopedia (2008) is of the view that words are generally accepted as being the smallest units of syntax. It is clear that in most (if not all) languages, words can be related to other words by rules. For example, English speakers recognize that the words dog, dogs and dog-catcher are closely related. English speakers recognize these relations from their tacit knowledge of the rules of word-formation in English. They sense that dog is to dog-catcher as dish is to dishwasher. The rules understood by the speakers reflect specific patterns (or regularities) in the
way words are formed from smaller units and how those smaller units interact in speech. In this way, morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies patterns of word-formation within and across languages, and formulates rules that model the knowledge of the speakers of those languages. This work, therefore, is an attempt to compare the word-formation processes in two languages: English and


The major task of a linguist is to describe the properties of a language. This kind of description is generally referred to as the grammar of the language.

Although there are some considerable disagreements within linguistics concerning the precise form of a grammar, it is believed that each grammar of a language has the following properties:
(a) Phonetic property
(b) Phonological property
(c) Syntactic property
(d) Semantic property
(e) Lexical or morphological property

The study of how languages are differently structured began out of the interest to classify language families across the world. This was initiated by historical or comparative linguists whose efforts were geared towards demonstrating similarities. However, comparative studies have shown that languages may share resemblances without being genetically related. According to Al-Hassan (1998: 11), comparative linguistics approaches languages through the different hierarchies of linguistic analysis, i.e. phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. Among these levels of analysis, morphology has been accorded
rather secondary status in comparative linguistics. This research work sets out to study the similarities and/or differences of two genetically unrelated languages, namely (English and Hausa).
To compare two languages, for instance, phonologically, one could be expected to look at the phonemic inventories of the two languages, their phonotactics and/or the syllable structures, including their suprasegmentals.

Languages can be compared morphologically by looking at their systems of affixation and the nature of the affixes themselves, that is, whether the languages employ prefixes and suffixes only or even infixes and circumfixes and to what extent.

Genetically, the English and Hausa languages belong to different phyla; English is a European language in the Indo-European sub-division, whereas Hausa is a language in the West African sub-region. Generally speaking, irrespective of the genetic unrelatedness between any two languages, the languages must have certain similarities. The morphological features these languages may share in common may not necessarily be indicative of their genetic/historical relationship but a relationship, of universal dimension. It is
obvious that universal features among languages can only be discovered with exactitude through comparative/contrastive studies.


The traditional term for the most elemental unit of grammatical form is the morpheme. The word, as Fromkin and Rodman (1998: 68) observe, is derived from the Greek word “morphe” meaning “form”. Morphemes, in the words of Crystal (1980: 223), are the “minimal distinctive units of grammar and the central concern of morphology”. Downing and Locke (1992: 13) consider the morpheme to be an abstract category, which has either lexical or grammatical meaning. For the free encyclopedia (2008), a “morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language (any part of a word) that cannot be broken down further into smaller
meaningful parts, including the whole word itself”. In the English word “kicked”, for example, two bits of meaning are found, that is KICK and PAST TENSE. The word “items” can be broken down into two meaningful parts: ‘item’ and the plural suffix‘s’; neither of these can be broken down into other smaller meaningful parts. Therefore ‘item’ and ‘s’ are both morphemes.

A morpheme, according to the free encyclopedia (2008), could be either free or bound. It could be a base, root or an affix. A morpheme could even be content morpheme or function morpheme. A morpheme is said to be free when it can stand alone as an independent word (e.g. item); while a bound morpheme must be attached to another morpheme or word (affixes, such as plural ‘__s’ are always bound; roots are sometimes bound, e.g. the ‘kep__’ of ‘kept’ or the ‘__ceive’ of ‘receive’).

The base, also called a stem, is an element (free or bound, a root morpheme or complex word) to which additional morphemes are added. A base can consist of a single root morpheme as with the ‘kind’ of ‘kindness’. But a base can also be a word that itself contains more than one morpheme. For example,
the word ‘kindness’ can be used as a base to form the word ‘kindnesses’. To form the word ‘kindnesses’, the plural morpheme, spelled ‘__es’ in this case, is added to the base ‘kindness’.

The root is usually a free morpheme around which words can be built through the addition of affixes. The root usually has a more specific meaning than the affixes that are attached to it. The root ‘kind’, for example, can have suffixes added to it to form words, such as ‘kindly’, ‘kindness’, ‘kinder’ or ‘kindest’. The root is the item left when a complex word is stripped of all other morphemes. If the word ‘dehumanizing’, for example, is stripped of all the affixes

—- ‘ing’, ‘_ize’, and ‘de’, ‘human’ is what is left. It cannot be divided further into meaningful parts. It is the root of the word. An affix, on the other hand, is a bound morpheme attached to a base (root or stem). Prefixes are attached to the front of a base; suffixes to the end of a base, infixes are inserted inside a base.

An example of a prefix is the ‘re’ of ‘rewrite’; while that of a suffix is ‘_al’ of ‘critical’.
A morpheme is considered as a content morpheme when it has a relatively more specific meaning than a function morpheme; a morpheme that names a concept or idea in our record of experience of the world. Content morpheme, fall into the classes of noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. A function morpheme, on the other hand, is that morpheme that has a relatively less specific meaning than a content morpheme; a morpheme whose primary meaning/function is to signal relationships between other morphemes. Function morphemes generally fall into classes, such as articles (‘a’, ‘the’), prepositions (‘of’, ‘at’), auxiliary verbs (‘was eating’, ‘have slept’), etc.

Yule (1995: 62) provides a chart that categorizes the different types of morphemes under morphology,

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