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This paper describes the pronominal system of I?b?ani?, an endangered Eastern I?jo? dialect spoken in Nigeria, West Africa, which consists of the personal, reflexive, reciprocal, demonstrative, interrogative, and indefinite pronouns. Personal pronouns exhibit the grammatical categories of person, number, gender, and case. A three way gender distinction based on sex and humanness is attested in the third person singular pronoun. Personal pronouns have long and short forms that correspond to free and bound pronouns respectively. Short forms are obligatory and non-emphatic while long forms perform contrastive and emphatic functions. The bound forms of the singular object pronouns function as possessives with specific nouns that are associated with parts of the body and familial relationships thus expressing inalienability. There are special forms for the first, second, and third (masculine) persons singular pronouns in the accusative case that are used when these pronouns are preceded by a bound subject pronoun or when they precede vowel-initial words. An uncommon feature exhibited by the long personal pronouns is that they may be segmented into person and number morphemes. I?b?ani? also distinguishes between singular and plural adnominal and pronominal demonstrative pronouns in the proximal forms. The adnominal and pronominal distal demonstratives are morphologically identical to the third person singular neuter pronoun ani? and do not indicate number in their reference. The neutral behavior of ani? within the pronominal system affirms its status as a non-person in the speech act. The complexity of the I?b?ani? pronominal system makes it a likely problem for language learners and thus worthy of investigation.

KEYWORDS? I?b?ani?, I?jo? , pronouns, inalienability, gender, and demonstratives.

Ebitare F. Obikudo
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