À-ì-Derived Nominals in Yorùbá

  • O ̣Ajíbóyè


There are two accounts in the literature on the status of “àì”, an entity that derives certain nominals in Yorùbá, namely, the account that “àì” is a single negative morpheme and the account that “àì” consists of two morphemes “à” and “ì”. In the first account, the claim is that “àì” nominalizes minimally a verb (phrase) to derive nouns by a morphological process of prefixation. The second account claims that “à” and “ì” jointly nominalize the same constituent in the same process. This paper argues along the line of the view that àì consists of two morphemes from morphological, semantic and syntactic points of view. As for their morphology, it is shown that each of the two elements, namely, “à” and “ì” is a distinctive morpheme which contributes to the derivation of àì-nominals: while “ì” is analyzed as the negative (Neg) prefix morpheme that supplies the negative interpretation of the verb, “à” is treated as the nominalizer (Nom) morpheme that nominalizes the derived ‘negated Verb Phrase’. On their semantics, the paper demonstrates that only Non-referential nominals are derived through the àì-twin prefix as in àì-dé ‘inability to arrive’; thus the possibility of deriving R(eferential) nominals with either of them e.g. àì-daran ‘act of not pasturing’23 is completely ruled out. As for their syntax, the paper proposes that “à” and “ì” are functional elements comprising of the negation morpheme “ì” and the nominalizer morpheme “à”; each of which projects even though none is independent of the other in this particular derivation processes. It  therefore argues along the lines of Ajíbóyè, Déchaine & Stewart (2004) that “àì” derived nominal expressions have the structure of a Nominal Phrase (NomP). Adopting the minimalist program of Chomsky (1995), the paper claims that the negation morpheme -ì first merges with  which can be a Verb Phrase with an Aspectual Phrase or a Modal Phrase or both occurring optionally yielding a Negative Phrase (NegP). If the derivation stops at this, the derivation crashes; so, the derivation continues as the nominalizer à- merges with the NegP to form the NomP, a derivation that converges.

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eISSN: 0075-7640
print ISSN: 0075-7640