Igbo-English Fictional Translation and Igbo-English Bilingualism: Animals, Fish and Plants Related Terms in Bell-Gam Translated By P.J. Ezeh | January 2019 | Translation Journal

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Igbo-English Fictional Translation and Igbo-English Bilingualism: Animals, Fish and Plants Related Terms in Bell-Gam Translated By P.J. Ezeh

Ihechi Obisike NKORO, Ph.D

E-mail; ihenkos2008@yahoo.com

GSM NO: 08066680469

Department of Foreign Language and Translation Studies,

Abia State University Uturu, Nigeria.


Every country has a measure of language planning and policy that attempts to harness the languages in that country for effective communication and participatory development. Even in apparently homogenous linguistic communities where there may not be an apparent need to distinguish between official language and language of immediate environment, the reality of the existence of Diaspora groups in the population of modern societies, has made bilingualism and multilingualism undeniable realties of modern societies that necessitate not only language planning and policy, but conscious efforts by language users to be practising or functional bilinguals to guard against language endangerment, attrition and extinction. The focus of this paper is on how fictional translation can help Igbo-English bilinguals in making use of flora and fauna related terms. The data for the study are drawn from Bell-Gam’s Igbo fiction Ije Odumodu Jere (1963) and its English translation Odumodu’s Odyssey by P-J Ezeh (2014). The conceptual framework of the study is based on Nida’s principle of dynamic equivalence in translation. The method of study is comparative and analytical. The paper concludes that terms related to animals, fish and plants in the source and target texts will help Igbo-English /English-Igbo bilinguals to develop their vocabulary equally in the domains studied.

Keywords: bilingualism, attrition, fiction in Igbo, translation into English, vocabulary development


            Original and translated literary works continue to play a significant role in nation building and intercultural communication. Before the internet turned the world into a global village, literature has been one of those few domains of life that transcended national boundaries since world literature has been flourishing for centuries through the intermediary of translators. In fact, the researcher who in the 20th Century began to read translated works such as the Igbo Bible and some of Bretch’s German works translated into English began to read e-books about a decade ago. Translation could be carried out by humans only, by humans aided by machines or by machines only. Our study focuses on literature translated by humans as it seeks to use as primary data Bell-Gam’s Igbo novel, Ije Odumodo Jere (1963) and its English version, Odumodu’s Odyssey (2014) translated by P. J. Ezeh. The objective of the study is to contribute to vocabulary development of Igbo-English / English-Igbo bilinguals through a glossary of animals, fishand plants related terms from the source text and the target text. The study adopts the comparative and analytical approaches as well as communicative perspective on translation in line with Nida (2006) and House (2009). The communicative translation method is target-reader oriented as it takes into consideration the sociolinguistic practices of the target language

‘Terms’ are used in the essay with reference to semantics or vocabulary (Bangs 1968:9-11) and not with reference to terminology which implies creation of new terms to express a non-existent concept in another language. According to O’Grady et. al. (2011:36), “by age eighteen months or so, the average child has a vocabulary of fifty words or more. Common terms include words referring to animals……” Writing on bilingual education, Archibald (2011:421-423), notes that through minority language maintenance programmes L1 could be strengthened as L2 is acquired. Furthermore, Cohen (1968) shows the positive role that literature plays on vocabulary and reading development in EFL. Again, Tiryaki and Tütüniş (2012)in their study on “The Role of Extensive Reading on Vocabulary Development”, points out that extensive reading affects positively EFL learners’ vocabulary development and ensures more word learning even though the subjects were reluctant to learn English at school. In the same vein, a study by Exforsys (2007) indicate that though literature enhances one’s vocabulary, there is need to be selective in what one reads inorder to balance fiction with non-fiction.

The reality of first language attrition among bilinguals who do not use their first language regularly as shown in Emara’s 2018 report on recent studies by Researchers at the University of Essex in England (https://charlatan.ca/2018/02/research-shows-first-language-attrition-in-bilingual-people-is-more-common-than-expected/), studies by Schmid and Yılmaz (2018 ) and language disappearance in Biu Emirate in Northern Nigeria as shown by Usman (2014) call for diversified research and sensitization of Nigerian bilinguals on ways to use indigenous Nigerian languages regularly. Therefore, our study seeks to strengthen through translated literature, vocabulary development of Igbo-English / English-Igbo bilinguals.


Igbo-English / English-Igbo Bilingualism

The two languages chosen for the study belong to language families that are genetically diverse given that English belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family while, according to Emenanjo (2015:4) “Igbo belongs to the Igboid sub-group within ‘Benue-Kwa in the new West Benue Congo…” The studies of Aziza (2015), Okere (2018) and Onuoha (2018) show that though Igbo language enjoys a national status, that it is still a developing language whereas English is an international language. Ethnologue indicates that Igbo, one of the three major languages of Nigeria, has about 27 million speakers mainly from Southeastern Nigeria; while English has about 1,121,806,280 spread across the world (https://www.ethnologue.com/language/eng). Whereas English tops the list of the most studied languages in the world (https://www.mosalingua.com/en/most-studied-languages-in-the-world/), Igbo is one of the less commonly taught languages in the world (https://www.cetra.com/blog/78-priority-languages-in-the-us-less-commonly-taught-but-critical). Nevertheless, Igbo and English have been languages in contact for centuries thereby providing an instance of bilingualism. According to Matthews’ Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics (2007) bilingualism refers to “people or communities speaking two or more different languages, or different dialects of the same language, whether or not they are controlled equally and whether or not more than one is native”. For the purpose of our study, the part of the definition that highlights the speaking of two or more different languages will be retained. The languages in focus are Igbo and English with two categories of bilinguals namely: Igbo-English bilinguals and English-Igbo bilinguals. Igbo-English bilinguals speak Igbo first then learn English as a second language whereas English-Igbo bilinguals speak English first then learn Igbo as a second or foreign language. Igbo-English bilinguals have as their first language or mother tongue Igbo which is used at home. The home where the Igbo is acquired as a first language may be in Igboland as is the case of the researcher, in non-Igbo community in Nigera as is the case of Ijeoma in Ndimele (2009). Chinyere Ohaya(http://www.africabusinessworld.com/first-igbo-born-in-diaspora-speaks-writes-reads-perfect-igbo/2017/01/28/ and Frances Pritchett

(http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00fwp/igbo/bingo/index.html) are examples of Englsh-Igbo bilinguals.

            Ebeogu (1986) in his study “Cursed Bilingualism?: The Igbo-English Experience” laments the prominence of English over Igbo language among Igbo-English bilinguals. It is regrettable that decades after Ebeogu’s study the attitude of some Igbo-English bilinguals towards Igbo language is still not encouraging. In seekng to have a balance in the bilingualism that involves English and indigenous Nigerian languages, Otor (2005) brings to focus the role of English in the development of indigenous Nigerian languages while Oke (2013) indicates that there is a need for Igbo literature written in English and works translated from Igbo into English inorder to help the Igbo in diaspora and others who learn Igbo as a second or a foreign language. In addition, Okey-Kalu (2018:178) shows that vocabulary constraint is one of the barriers to oral proficiency in second language learning. Therefore, vocabulary development is an integral part of first language acquisition and second language learning. What follows is an attempt to show how vocabulary development in Igbo and English can be achieved among Igbo-English/ English- Igbo bilinguals through the original and the translated literary texts chosen for the study.


Synopsis of Bell-Gam’s Igbo Fiction Ije Odumodu Jere / Odumodu’s Odyssey

Yuschenko (2018) in her study on new fiction translation opines that it is possible for a fiction translator to create a translation which could be the adequate version of the original book. Ije Odumodu Jere is one of the earliest novels written in Igbo language by Bell-Gam, Leoplod published in 1963 by Longman, London. On one hand, Bell-Gam through intercultural travels of Odumodu, the protagonist, draws attention to the interrelationshp between humans, flora and fauna. On the other hand, he sensitizes humans on the need to respect one another irrespective of differences of colour, race or culture. In a captivating artistic manner, the author shares from an indigenous Igbo perspective useful tips on Education, Engineering, Architecture, Agriculture and Fishery thereby establishing the kind of balance needed for the emergence of a knowledge society. The first English translation of Ije Odumodu Jere known to the writer is Odumodu’s Odyssey translated by P.J. Ezeh, published by ABIC Books and Equip. Ltd., Enugu in 2014. P.J. Ezeh is an Igbo-English bilingual. The writer’s reading of the English translation from an Igbo-English bilingual’s perspective shows that Ezeh’s translation is highly communicative because his message is a dynamic equivalent of the original message. Ezeh’s English version has been chosen for the study as we consider it a good translation which satisfies Nida’s (2006) and House’s (2009) principle of communicative translation that respects sociolinguistic norms of target readers. We think that the translator’s notes at the end of the English version are very helpful as some Igbo loanwords and literal translations are explained in the notes.


Data Presentation

Excerpts from the source text-Ije Odumodu Jere and the target text-Odumodu’s Odyssey will serve as corpus or data for vocabulary development. Presented hereafter are tables that contain some terms related to animals, fish and plants as they occur contextually in the source (Igbo) and the target (English) texts.

Table 1- Animal Related Terms





Isi 3

…Ụjọ tụrụ m mgbe m nụrụ mkpu agụ, na nke okpango, na nke ụmụ anụmanụ ndị ozo…(p.6).

Chapter Three

…I got scared when I heard the roar of a panther, the cry of a gorilla, and noises of other animals… (P.24).



…Ihe m na-atụ ụjọ bụ mkpu ụmụ anụmanụ dị ka nke agụ iyi, na nke ọzọ dimgba, na nke ọtụtụ anụ ojọọ ọzọ dị iche iche. (p.9).

Chapter Three

…My only fear was the cries of crocodiles, chimpanzees and those of other dangerous animals. (p.28).



…N’ihi na enweela m ụlọ, ụjọ anụmanụ ndị a atụkwaghị m nke ukwu…(p.10).

Chapter Four

…After getting the house I was no longer too scared of those animals… (p.30).


…Madụ dị ka atụrụ nke na-anaghị aga ije na nge na nge…(p.10).

…Humans are like sheep that are are gregarious…(p.30).



…Otu akwa tụrụ agwa ka ajụ ala ka ha gbasara site n’ọnụisionye ahụ ruo n’ebe akwa ụgbọ ahụ jeruru.…(p.14)

Chapter Fve

…A cloth with the colour of python was spread from the gate to where the last of the flags was hoisted… (p.36)


…N’akụkụ aka nri oche ahụ otu agụ e jiri nkume kpụọ dị. N’aka ekpe, otu enyi ukwu a akpụkwara akpụ dị. (p.15).

…To the right of the throne was a panther sculptured in stone. On the left was a sculptured elephant… (p.37).



…Ebe ọ bụla onye new ala ahụ gaje, ọ na-akpọ m na-aga. M na-esokwa ya ka nkịta…(p.17).

Chapter 6

… Wherever the king went he would take me along with him. I followed him like a dog… (p.41).



..Ha tụrụ ọdụ n’uzọ nịle, were akpụkpo agụ na nke ọdụm tụọ n’ala nga anyị ga-azọ ụkwụ…(p.20).

… The streets were beautified and flags were hoisted in decoration of all strrets, and the skins of leopards and lions were spread everywhere we would match… (46).



…M nwere ụgbọ ala ịnyịnya anọ na-akpụ… Ma ihe a dum emeghị ka m ghara icheta, mgbe ọ bụla, ihe banyere ala m nke m ahụbeghị anya mgbe tere anya. Nke a mere ndị okenye ji tụọ ilu sị, “A na-ejị onye ohị, obi ya egburi ewu. (p.25).

Chapter Seven

…I had a stagecoach drawn by four horses. But none of these was enough to make me not to keep thinking of my community that I hadn’t seen for a long time. This is why the elders have a proverb, “You might hold a thief’s body but with his mind he continues to slaughter goats.” (p.54).


…Ma i lee anya n’u’ụkwụ igbe ozu ahụ, ị ga-ahụ onye nwe ala n’elu ịnyịnya nga o ji mma agha ya n’aka…(p.32).

… If you looked at the feet end of the casket you would see a picture of the king mounted on a horse and with a sword in hand… (p.67).


.. Mgbe ochie ịchụ nta bụ nọị ihe ukwu… = p.32

…In the olden days hunting was an important event indeed…= p.67


…“N’obodo a n’oge ahụ, otu agụ nọ na-esogbu madụ. Ọ na-egbu ewu na ọkụkọ na ọtụtụ anụ ọzọ dị na obodo a... (p.33).

… “In those days a particular leopard was menacing this community. It was preying on goats, chickens and other livestock… (p.69)


Isi 11

…Ya mere m jiri gbaa ọsọ bịa n’obodo aebe ha agaghị inwe ike ịbịa igbu m. Ururu sị “kama isi ya ga-atụ anwụrụ ọkụ, ka ikwukwe ọsọ kwee ya.’… (p.40).

Chapter 11

…That was why I ran to the present refuge to escape being killed by them.The ground squirrel says that rather than its head be roasted in the hunter’s fire, he will pant through a long race…(p.80).


Isi 12

…O kwesịrị ka anyị mụta ihe gbasara madụ na anụmanụ na nnụnụ na osisi dị n’ụwa… (p.42).

Chapter 12

…It is important to learn about humans, animals, birds and plants of this world. (p.83)


…Ihe gburu nwunye m bụ akọm n’ihi na anwụnta tara ya mgbe anyị dina n’out mbara ọcha n’oge ahụ anyị na-agba ọsọ aga Mimba… (p.44).

…My wife died of malaria because she was bitten by mosquitoes when we spent the night in an open field on our way of escape to Mimba…(p.87)


Table 2-Fish Related Terms





Isi 4

…Mgbe ọ bụla m richara nri mụ agaa n’agịga miri na-ele anya n’ime miri, na-elekwa ụmụ azụ nga ha na-egwu miri. Ụzọ m ga-esi egu ha adịghị n’ihi na enweghị m ihe ọ bụla e ji egbu azụ, dị ka nko na ụgbụ… (p,10)

Chapter 4

…At end of each meal I would to the edge of the beach observing the water and watching the fish as they swam. There was no question of catching any of them for I had no fishing implements, things like hooks and net… (p.31).


…Nke a mere m jiri chee na azụ ukwu eburula ya gbalaga… =p.11

…I thought therefore that a big fish had escaped with it…= p.32.


…Mgbe m sin a miri puta n’elu ala ka m hụrụ otu ọfụrụma ebili kwapụtata n’elu ala… ( p.11).

…it was when I came out of the water that I saw one shark that had been tossed to the shore by waves. ( p.32).

Table 3- Plants Related Terms





Isi 1

…Ihe m mere bụ iji ọgọdọ atọ luo   maị nkwụ elu. Mgbe chi jiri m kpọkọta ụmụnne m dum, papụta ebele mai asaa dọwara ha… (p.2).

Chapter One

…I used three gourds to buy oil-palm wine. At night I invited all my siblings and gave them seven gourds of wine..= p.17,

oil-palm wine. (p.17).



Isi 3

…Mgbe m lere anya gburugburu n’ebe nile ka m hụrụ ọtụtụ osisi mịrị mkpụrụ dị iche iche, ma ọ dịghị nke m maara n’ime ha. Ifuru nke dị n’elu osisi ndị ahụ mara mma, nweekwa isi ụtọ… M na-aga, m na-ele anya n’elu, na-achọ ma ọ dị mkpụrụ osisi a na-eri eri m ga-ahụ…Mgbe m tụgharịrị anya n’ebe aka ekpe ka m hụrụ otu osisi yiri ụkwa. Mgbe m leziri ya anya,m chọpụta na ọ bụ otu osisi ndị ahịa na-eweta mkpụrụ ya n’oge m nọọrọ n’Akure. M rịgoro n’elu ya, ghọda isi ụkwa ahụ…. (pp.7-8).

Chapter Three

…As I looked around I found trees with all sorts of fruits but none was familiar to me. They had exquisite, sweet-smelling flowers…As I continued to go I continued to look at the tops of those trees for any edible fruits that I could recognize… It was when I turned to the left that I saw a tree that resembled the breadfruit. On closer inspection I realized that it was a tree whose fruits traders brought to Akure when I lved there. I climed it and plucked much of its fruits…. ( p.25)



…Mgbe m ruru ọnụ miri ahụ ka m chetara sị na ọ dịghị okụ m nwere. Nke a bụkwa mmekpa ahụ ọzọ siri ike n’ihi na madụ anaghị enwe ike rie ụkwa ma ọ bụrụ na e sighị ya esi ma ọ bụkwa arụghị ya arụ n’ọkụ. “Chi nyere nwa mgbei ji awọm, ga-enyekwa ya mbazụ o ji egwuru ya”. ( p.8).

…When I got to the shore I t occurred to me that I had no fire. That again was a major difficulty for one didn’t eat breadfruit except it was cooked or roasted. “The chi that provided an orphan with a tuber of wild yam would also provide him with the digging implement with which to access it.” (p.26).


… M kpokọta osisi na ahịhịa kpọrọ nkụ n’otu nga ma site n’ike anyanwụ tinye ha ọkụ. Ihe mbụ m mere bụ ikpokọta ahịhịa na osisi kpọrọ akpọ n’otu ebe… M hụkwara ọtụtụ osisi m maara n’ebe ahụ ma ndị nke kwesịrị ịkpọ aha ha bụ akụ Bekee, ọkwụrụ Bekee, afụfa, otu ụkpa nkwụ, ụtụ, na ụdara. Miri akụ Bekee ahụ bụ maị m mgbe na mgbe m richara ihe… (pp.8-9).

…I collected dry leaves and grasses and with the sun lit the collection. The first thing that I did was to collect the dry grasses and dry leaves in one place…. I saw many trees I recognized but the ones I should name were coconuts, papaya, garden eggs, a palm tree, ụtụ, and the star apple. Coconut milk served as wine after each meal… (p.27).


Isi 4

…Ọrụ ụlọ rara ahụ tụmadị mgbe ọ bụ nanị otu onye na-arụ ya. Oguguụkpa nkwụ nke dị n’ala a ka m jiri mee ibo na ọkpụkpọ… (pp.9-10).

Chapter Four

…Building a house is a difficult task much more when it has to be done by only one person. It was the palm bamboos that I found in the place that I used to make both the door and a bed…(p.29)


Isi 4

…Akwa na uwe anyị nile fuchara mgbe ụgbọ anyị gbawara… Nke a mere m jiri chee ikwe akwa…Mgbe m gamiri n’ime ọhịa ahụ m hụ osisi ogho ahụ m na-achọ ka ha juru nga nile…Mgbe m tụchara ogho ahụ, m mee nkwe nga m ga-adụ akwa ahụ. M were ogho ahụ wuo na nkwe ahụ, were ụfọdụ tụọ ahịa: m jiri mma nta ahụ pịa otiti m jiri kụọ akwa ahụ.


Chapter Four

…Our cloths and clothes were lost in the shipwreck… For that I thought of weaving some cloth… When I had gone far into the forest I saw the elusive cotton in great abundance. After sifting the cotton I made a loom with which to weave the cloth. I fed the cotton onto the loom, with some wrapped on the distaff. With the knife I made the wooden spindle that I used in the weaving.



            Numbers 1, 8 and 13 in Table 1 on animal related terms show that ‘agụ’ was translated into English as ‘Panther’ and ‘Leopard’ whereas the use of ‘agụ’ is consistent in the Igbo text. We consider ‘leopard’ a more natural equivalent of ‘agụ’ and think that ‘leopard’ should be used in the English translation in all the contexts where “agụ” appears in the Igbo text. Again, for No.1 in Table 3 on plants related terms, we suggest the Englsih word ‘calabash’ as the equivalent of the Igbo word ‘ebele’. Igbo words in the source text are not tone-marked but the terms in the glossary presented hereafter are tone-marked to enhance oral proficiency.


Igbo-English Glossary of Animal, Fish and Plant Related Terms inIje Odumodu Jere / Odumodu’s Odyssey

            Michaux’s book Dictionnaire sélectif des arbres, des plantes et des fleurs / A Sélective Dictionary of Trees, Plants and Flowers (1979), Agishi’s book Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Akweya, Hausa, English and Scientific Names of Plants and Nkoro’s (2015) study «La traduction anglais-français-igbo des sigles des organismes internationaux: Implications pour la CEDEAO » show that interlingual glossaries are a veritable tool for vocabulary development not only for developed languages like English and French but also for developing languages like Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Akweya, Hausa and Igbo. Interlingual glossaries may be bilingual, trilingual or multilingual. There are some readily available Igbo-English /English-Igbo glossaries geared towards meeting terminological needs. Among such publications are “Igbo Plant and Animal Terminology” by Osuagwu and Ndubueze (1997), Essential English-Igbo Vocabulary (For Students) by Echebima (2014) and English-Igbo Glossary of HIV, AIDS and Ebola-Related Terms by Igboanusi and Mbah (2017). These three publications will serve as our model for the Igbo-English glossary presented hereafter. It is noteworthy that some Igbo words that appear in the glossary are dialectal and are not in consonance with standard Igbo orthography because the Igbo text was published in 1963. It is noteworthy that Igbo terms in the glossary have been tone-marked contrary to the Igbo text used for the study because it seems to us that this wll enhance the oral proficiency of potential English-Igbo bilinguals      

  1. Igbo-English Glossary of AnimalRelated Terms
  2. ii)Igbo-English Glossary of PlantsRelated Terms

S/No          Igbo                                                                 English

     1                 Ágụ́                                                                A Leopard

   2                  Ágụ́ íyí                                                            Crocodile

   3                  Ájụ́ álá                                                              Python

   4                 Ákpụ́kpọ́ ágụ́ na nke ọ̀dụ̀m                             The skins of leopards and lions

   5                  Ákpụ́kpọ́ ọ̀dụ̀m                                               The skin of lions

   6                  Ánụ́manụ̀                                                        Animal

   7                  Ánwụ́ǹta                                                         Mosquitoe

   8                  Átụ́rụ́                                                                Sheep

   9                  Éhí                                                                   xxxx (omte)

10                  Ényí úkwú                                                       A big elephant

11                  Éwú                                                                 Goat

12                  ị̀chụ̀ ǹtá                                                           Hunting

13                  ị̀nyị̀nyà                                                                       Horse

14                   Ḿkpú ágụ́                                                        The roar of a panther

15                    Ḿkpú ọ̀kpàngò                                                The cry of a gorilla

16                    Ḿkpú Ụ́mụ̀ Ánụ́manụ̀                                     The noises of animals

17               Ḿkpú ụ̀mụ̀ Ánụ́mànụ̀ ǹdị̀ ọ̀zọ̀                             The noises of other animals

18                Ǹkị̀tà                                                                 A dog

19                    Ǹnụ̀nụ̀                                                            A brd

20                   Ọ̀dụ̀m                                                             A Lion

21                   Ọ̀kpàngò                                                      A gorilla

22                   Ọ̀tụ́tụ́ anụ́ ọ̀jọ̀ọ̀                                                         Many dangerous animals

23                   Ọ̀kụ̀kọ̀                                                         Chicken

24                   Ózọ̀ dim̀gbà                                              Chimpanzee

25                   Úrúrù                                                        The ground squirrel

25                    Ụ́mụ̀ Ánụ́mànụ̀                                        Animals                 

ii) Igbo-English Glossary of FishRelated Terms

S/No          Igbo                                                                 English

1                      Ágwọ̀                                                              Snake

2                      Ázụ̀                                                                 Fish

3                      Ázụ̀ ọ̀jọ̀ọ̀                                                         Dangerous fish

4                      Ázụ̀ Úkwú                                                      Big fish

5                      ĺgbù Ázụ̀                                                         Fishing

6                      Ńkò                                                                 Hooks

7                      Ọ̀fụ̀rụ̀má                                                          Shark

8                      Ụgbụ                                                               Net

9                      Ụ́mụ̀ Ázụ̀                                                        Fishes

S/No          Igbo                                                                 English

1                Áfụ̀fá                                                              garden eggs

     2                 Ákụ̀ Békéé                                                      Coconuts

     3                 Àhị̀à                                                                Distaff

   4                  Ákwụ̀kwọ̀ Ọ̀kwụ̀rụ̀ Békéé                              Papaya leaves

   5                  Èbèlè Ḿmáị̀ Ásàà                                           Seven gourds of wine

   6                  Ghọ̀dà ĺsí Ụ́kwà                                              Plucked as much of its fruits.

   7                  Ìfúrù                                                                Flowers

   8                  Ìsí Òsísí na Ìfúrù nwéré                                  The fragrance of trees and flowers

   9                  Ìsí Ụ́tọ̀                                                             sweet-smelling

S/No          Igbo                                                                 English

     10              Kụ̀ọ̀ ákwà áhụ̀                                                 Used in the weaving

     11              Jí áwọ̀m                                                           wild yam

     12              Mírí Ákụ̀ Békéé                                              coconut milk

     13              Ḿkpụ́rụ́ Ósísí                                                 Fruits

     14              Ḿmáị̀ kwụ́ élú                                              oil-palm wine

     15              kwé                                                              Loom

     16              Óghò                                                               Cotton

     17              Ọ̀gọ̀dọ̀ átọ̀                                                       Three gourds

     18              ÓgùgùỤ́kpà Ǹkwụ́                                         Palm bamboos

     19              Ọ̀hị̀à                                                                Forest

     20              Ọ̀kwụ̀rụ̀ Békéé                                                Papaya


     21              Ósísí                                                                Trees


     22              Ósísí nà áhị̀hị̀a kpọ̀rọ̀ kụ́                              dry leaves and grasses

     23              Ósísí nà Ìfúrù                                                  plants and flowers

     24              Osisi nà ifuru na isi ha nwere                         plants and the flowers and their


     25              Ósísí Óghò                                                      cotton tree

     26              Ótítí                                                                 Wooden spindle

     27              Ótú Ụ́kpà Ǹkwụ́                                             a palm tree

     28              Ọ̀tụ́tụ́ Ósísí                                                      Many trees

     29              Ụ́dárà                                                              the star apple

     30              Ụ́kpà Ǹkwụ́                                                     Palm tree

     31              Ụ́kwà                                                              breadfruit

     32              Ụ́tụ̀                                                                  Ụ́tụ̀



Vocabulary development is necessary for effective communcation in first language acquisition and second language learning. Bilinguals who for personal, official, political or other reasons fail to use their first language regularly suffer language attrition and the long term effect of attrition could be language endangerment, loss, disapperance or death. To keep both the first language and the second language of a bilingual vigorously alive, vocabulary expansion in the two languages is necessary. Extensive reading of bilingual publications is one very helpful way bilinguals can develop the vocabulary of their two languages. When materials to be read are carefully selected to include fiction and non-fiction, vocabulary develops rapidly. Our study used excerpts from Bell-Gam’s Igbo novel Ije Odumodu Jere and its English version Odumodu’s Odyssey translated by P.J. Ezeh to show how literary texts can help Igbo-English / English-Igbo bilinguals to expand their vocabulary in animal, fish and plants related terms.    

            Since English is still Nigeria’s official language, the essay calls on literate Nigerians to make concerted efforts to develop their vocabularies in Nigerian indigenous languages and English for a deep-rooted national development that would prepare Nigerian languages to play in the nearest future, the role English plays presently in the country. This dream is achievable if two directions are followed. Firstly, every literate Nigerian should make an effort to translate into an indigenous Nigerian language printed materials available in English. Secondly, every Nigerian who is literate in English should be literate in a Nigerian language and translate into English printed materials available in that Nigerian language. It is hoped that the Igbo-English glossary of animal, fish and plants related terms based on the literary texts studied; will motivate readers to expand their vocabulary in Igbo as a second or a foreign language.  


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