Derivational Processes in Igala Numeral System: Some Universal Considerations

Gideon Sunday Omachonu 1 ,
Author Information & Copyright
1Nasarawa State University
Corresponding Author : Gideon Sunday Omachonu, Department of Languages and Linguistics, Nasarawa State University, Keffi-NIGERIA Phone: +2348065309796, +2348058421956; Email:

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: May 6, 2011; Revised: Jul 14, 2011; Accepted: Aug 01, 2011

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


This paper investigates derivational processes in the Igala numeral system to provide a detailed description of the system. The study relies on three major sources in gathering data for the descriptive analysis, namely, compilation of relevant list of Igala numerals, the researcher’s intuitive knowledge of the language in addition to his training as a linguist, and a search of the relevant literature. In Igala, the complexity of deriving especially non-basic numerals involves addition and multiplication in addition to the grammatical processes: drawing from phonological, morphological, and syntactic processes such as vowel elision, compounding, clipping, blending, reduplication, and sentential expressions that yield several numeral forms in the language. In all, from the available data in this study, Igala could be said to belong to the group of languages that has a vigesimal numeral system. This is because the language employs a numeral structure where counting is done majorly in multiples of ógwú/ọ̀gbọ̀ ‘twenty.’ In all, this report may not be as exhaustive, but it is hoped that the study has achieved its primary aim of providing a detailed description of the derivational processes in Igala numeral system in addition to helping the reader to appreciate the importance of this kind of research as it relates to typological considerations as well as universality of the grammar of numeracy in languages.

Keywords: igala numerals; vigesimal; derivational processes; arithmetic; grammatical



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