A Morpho-Semantic Study of Okun Names: Implications for Okun Linguistic Identity

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Ilọri, J.F.
Arẹ, O.
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The commonest names among the Okun people are those typically borne by all Yoruba groups (e.g. Olusọla, Ọlọrunfẹmi, Awoniyi, Ogungbemi, Faniyi, Adebayọ, Kayọde, etc.). However, names (such as Ayinmiro, Alemika, Berida, Iyekolo, Melaye, Makele, etc.) which are peculiar to the Okun groups and exclusively based on the linguistic structure of their dialects are not as common as the general Yoruba names either as first names or as surnames. Interestingly, many speakers of other Yoruba dialects in South West Nigeria are hardly aware of the Yorubaness of such names as they often erroneously associate them with other tribes in Nigeria. Furthermore, the use of Okun indigenous names is in recession as many people, natives inclusive, no longer use them nor know what they mean. This paper investigates the linguistic structures of Okun exclusive names with a view to descriptively analysing how they are morpho-syntactically and semantically constructed, and how these constructions demonstrate clear ancient affinity with other Yoruba groups. Findings show that Okun indigenous names have well-known Yoruba culture and language structures which range from frozen/lexicalized clauses (both simple and complex), noun phrases, and nominalised VPs involving morphosyntactic and morphophonemic processes such as prefixation, desententialisation, clipping, contraction, assimilation, and deletion. All these combined tend to make the names culturally unique and interesting. Given the overwhelming evidence from the morpho-syntax and semantics of the Okun indigenous names investigated, which evidently align well with what obtains in Standard Yoruba and other well studied dialects of the language, the study concludes that Okunlects are linguistically integral to the Yoruba dialect continuum.
Scholarly article
Ilori, J. F. & O. Are 2021. A Morpho-Semantic Study of Okun Names: Implications for Okun Linguistic Identity. Unilag Journal of Humanities Vol. 9 No. 2, pages 1-23.