Synonymy in Gokana: An Exploration

Authors: Samuel F. Joshua, Philomena E. Ejele & Baridisi H. Isaac

Department of Linguistics & Communication Studies, Faculty of Humanities

University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rivers State.

Published: January 2019

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Although the concept of synonymy has been investigated in some Nigerian languages, no work on the concept was found in Gokana. This study is a first attempt at investigating the concept in Gokana. The specific objectives of this study were to identify synonymous sets of lexemes in Gokana, analyze the meaning of the synonymous lexemes identified and ascertain the contexts in which particular lexemes in a synonymous set occur. Data for the study were sourced from interview with five competent language consultants in Gokana. Oral interview and participant observation were used in this study. Different pairs or sets of synonyms were collected and the data analyzed using English and Gokana simple sentence frames to test the suitability or otherwise of the pairs. The study identified sixteen partial synonymous sets in Gokana with the synonymous sets varying in number from two to six. The work indicated that synonyms in Gokana are nouns, adjectives and adverbs and further outlined that dialectal variation resulting from language contact, euphemism, ideophonic words, figurative and idiomatic expressions were the various factors responsible for synonymy in Gokana.

Keywords: semantics, synonyms, lexemes, language, Gokana.