Skip to main content

Campus Alert

Course: College Writing, ENG-101
Austrie Duarte
Assignment Title:
Definition Essay

Assignment Details

My assignment is about how a particular word puzzles me. In my essay, I discuss its usage and interpretation in my personal life and in the broader society. I reflect on my perplexity surrounding the word ‘Ibo’ and how it solidifies my understanding of my cultural identity instead of changing it. The question I explored was “What specific word puzzles you and why?” I explored this question by first thinking of words that don’t really sit right with me. Then, once I’ve decided the word I wanted to write about, I used a graphic organizer to organize my thoughts on how to write the essay including what each subtopic for my body paragraphs would be. My subtopics came from brainstorming what parts of the word ‘Ibo’ lost or gained meaning with its misspelling including the culture, people, and language connected to the word.


The topic of my assignment directly relates to my life because it discusses a particular word from my native language. I write about how it is used and understood by myself and others. My essay is about how the word ‘Ibo’ puzzles me and how it reinforces rather than changes how I perceive my native language and culture. I’m from the Igbo tribe in southeastern Nigeria and the language spoken amongst my tribe is the Igbo language. Frankly, the word ‘Ibo’ which I analyze throughout my essay is not an Igbo word, it is really an ‘empty English word’ and a misspelling of the word ‘Igbo.’ The word ‘Ibo’ and what it means connects to my life by naming people like me, but ironically doesn’t at the same time. I am actually ‘Igbo’ and not ‘Ibo,’ so for this assignment I decided to explore this puzzling, yet interesting contradiction.


In the end, I learned that the word ‘Ibo’ was just an ‘empty English word’ without a complete meaning. The word doesn’t completely apply to a culture, its people, or its language. I also learned that words generally carry meaning, and some words like ‘Igbo’ are full of meaning and don’t need to be altered or changed. Sometimes there is no need to alter a word, especially a cultural word that may have a significant meaning to certain people. As I’ve described, altered words can become empty and almost meaningless. Meaning doesn’t just come from the definition of a word, but also its spelling as well as all the connotations and cultural ties that come with it. Language shapes how we perceive the world around us. If language changes, our perceptions do as well, and if language changes so do our identities—something very important that helps us find meaning in our lives. It is not all the time that we want words connected to our culture and identities to change. The key message I aimed to convey in my essay is that ‘Ibo’ should not be used to identify or describe the Igbo culture, people, and language. Instead, ‘Igbo’ is the appropriate term due to its original, authentic meaning and origin.

Challenges and Successes

The biggest challenge I overcame and that I am most proud of is finding a valuable source outside of required sources to write my essay. It was challenging to find an article that worked perfectly with the topic of my essay since the topic is so specific. I struggled to find an article about the Anglicization of words, particularly the Anglicization of Igbo words. I was proud that I was able to find one detailed article about the Anglicization of Igbo toponyms. It described how Igbo place names changed after British colonization, revealing how some words aren’t originally from the Igbo language or Igbo alphabet. After searching extensively, I was able to successfully and confidently write my essay.