Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 130


Ibibio predicative copular constructions

Ogbonna Anyanwu
Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Uyo, Nigeria.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 24 February 2011
  •  Published: 30 April 2011



The Ibibio language is a member of the lower cross group of languages within the (New) Benue-Congo sub-family of the Niger-Congo family. It is predominantly spoken in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Ibibio has two types of copular construction; a locative copular construction and a predicative copular one. This paper provides a descriptive account of the predicative sub type of copular construction in Ibibio and has identified two types; one with an overt copular verb dó,’be’ which licenses a copular subject noun phrase in the subject position with a predicative adjective/noun phrase copular complement and the other without any overt copula but consists of just a copular subject noun phrase juxtaposed with a predicative verbal adjective complement. The paper observes that the predicative copular verb  can remain covert in a predicative copular construction if its complement is a verbal adjective and must however, be overt if its complement is a predicative adjective/noun phrase. Semantically, both types of Ibibio predicative copular construction are ‘marked’ copular constructions since each is not an option freely available for the other in the grammar of Ibibio. It is also observed that the predicates of the two types of predicative copular construction project structural relations whose semantics implicates stativity. This study is based on a database including both actual and potential words, which standard Ibibio speakers agree are in consistent with their language rules.


Key words:  Predicative, copula, complement, verbal adjective, covert.


Abbreviations: LOC, Locative; Cl, Clitic; 3sg, third person singular; PRED, predicative;TOP, topicalizer;  Fut, future; S, sentence; NP, noun phrase; ADJ, adjective.