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Grammatical sketch of Beng

Morphology of content words

Section 6
Denis Paperno
p. 30-42

Texte intégral

1Much of Beng’s inflexional and derivational morphology is suffixal. Beng suffixes include the inflexional -nā̰ (affirmative perfect), -lɛ̀ (stative), -lɛló (progressive), -sà (negative perfect), and the derivational -lɛ (nominalization), -ya (location nominalization), -pɔ (means nominalization), -yà (goal converb), -lí (agent nominalization), -lē (participle), -dēŋ̄ (profession suffix), -lɛ̀í (suffix that forms temporal adverbs from nouns that refer to parts of day cycle, e.g. drúlɛ̀í ‘in the morning’ from drú ‘morning’).

2Beng also has elements that could be labeled as ‘verbal prefixes’, which precede the verb stem and form a semantic unit with it, e.g. wó ‘in’ within wólā ‘to ask about,’ literally ‘to ask in,’ yé ‘mouth’ on yébṵ̄ ‘to feed,’ literally ‘to carry mouth’. Such ‘prefixes’ do not change their tone in the low tone form. However, structurally such elements are not true prefixes but (part of) a direct object of the verb since they can be separated from the verb stem under passivization. The semantic object of predicates like wólā ‘to ask about’ can therefore be seen structurally as the possessor of the dummy noun rather than a full direct object.

3The morphemes discussed here as suffixes are defined on distributional basis, with the main criterion being separability: unlike free standing morphemes from closed classes, e.g. personal pronouns, determiners, postpositions, etc., suffixes cannot be separated from the heads they combine with. For instance the negation marker follows the main verb of a sentence but can be separated from it by adverbs, indirect objects, etc.; on the other hand, verbal suffixes of positive or negative perfect, stative, or nominalization suffixes, always attach at the end of the verb stem and cannot be separated from it by any material. Similarly, while determiners and postpositions can be separated from the noun they combine with by adjectives, suffixes -dēŋ̄ and -lɛ̀í always attach to the noun stem and don’t allow for interveners.

4I also discuss below one element, ná̰, that fails to show unseparability from the head it combines with, but has tonal behavior typical for suffixes. So ná̰ cannot be characterized as a suffix but rather as a phrasal suffix, since it combines with phrases rather than stems; see examples below.

6.1. Tonal changes in suffixation

6.1.1. Mobile tone suffixes

5Some suffixes bear a high or a low tone depending on context. Those suffixes, which I call mobile tone suffixes, have a high tone after H, LH, MH, i.e. after a high tone element, and a low tone otherwise.

6Another unit that exhibits the same tonal behavior is the attributive marker na̰. This phrasal suffix attaches to noun phrases (which can consist of a single noun), forming adjective phrases with the meaning ‘having X’, ‘characterized by X’, for example: jrǎ ‘poverty’ – jrà ná̰ ‘poor’, blū ‘sorcery’ – blū nà̰ ‘sorcerer’, lɛ́ŋ́ plāŋ̄ ‘two children’ – lɛ́ŋ́ plāŋ̄ nà̰ ‘having two children’. These constituents exhibit the behavior of adjective phrases: they typically modify a noun (although, as with other adjectives one also finds them substantivized), and when modifying a noun they are always postposed rather than preposed; as discussed in 7.2, fixed position with respect to the modified noun is a feature distinguishing nouns from adjectives in Beng. When attaching to placenames, the attributive marker na̰ produces the meaning ‘resident of’, e.g., Àságbě ‘Ouassadougou’ – Àságbè ná̰ ‘resident of Ouassadougou’, bā wó ‘savanna’ – bā wó ná̰ ‘savanna dweller’. The attributivizer can also attach to full noun phrases with determiners:

(21)

Ŋ́

(gbě

bɛ́ɛ̄

bìlɛ̀)

nà̰

dō

yè

gblē.

1sg :Pst+

village

big

this

ATR

one

see:L

yesterday

‘I saw one resident of this big village yesterday’.

6.1.2. Low tone suffixes

7One syllable suffixes with a low tone undergo a shift of a H tone element of a preceding contour tone, so that LH.L>L.HL and MH.L>M.HL. Examples: {drǔ (LH)+ [l]} /drù [l] (HL)/ (negative perfect form of the verb ‘to walk’), {zrä (MH) + [l]} /zrā (M) (HL)/ (goal converb of the verb ‘to lose’). In verbal reduplication, the right reduplicant also shows tonal behavior of a low tone suffix, cf. the reduplicated form of the same verb to walk {drǔ (LH) + drù [l]} => /drù [l] drû (HL)/ ‘to walk back and forth’.

6.1.3. Other suffixes

8Suffixes with lexical high (-lí, agent nominalization) or mid tone (-nā̰, perfect), show no tone alternations.

6.1.4. Stems ending in L tone

9The final L tone element of a verb stem is deleted before the attachment of suffixes. If the L is part of a contour tone, L simplifies, and the contour tone becomes level, e.g. túà to leave túá‑lɛ́ (nominalization). If the low tone characterizes a whole syllable, the tone of the preceding syllable spreads to replace L. The latter situation is typical for reduplicated verbs, cf. examples of nominalization of such verbs: wláwlàto smile’ – wláwlá-lɛ́, mḭ̄mḭ́to suck’ – mḭ̄mḭ̄-lɛ̀.

6.1.5The verb blö ‘to press out’

10The verb blö ‘to press out’ changes its lexical tone from MH to H when combining with suffixes, cf. the progressive form blóɔ́ló instead of the regular *blōɔ́ló, nominalization blólɛ́ instead of the regular *blōlɛ́ etc.

6.2. Nominalization in

11The suffix –forms action (or event) nominalization of verbs:

(22)

[Drɛ̰̄

wō-lɛ̀]

gɛ̄ŋ̄.

work

do-Nmlz

3sg:Hab+

good

‘To work is good’.

(23)

gbě

tá-lɛ́

zá

fù

ā̰ŋ̄

wó.

3sg

village

leave-Nmlz

matter

suprise:L

1pl

in

‘His departure from the village took us by surprise’.

(24)

i

[báŋ́

klá-lɛ́]

lā-àló

Kùàjó

nḭ̀.

Kofi

St+

trap

set-Nmlz

show-Prog

Kouadio

Benef

‘Kofi teaches Kouadio to set traps’.

(25)

Bè-lɛ́

kā

mḭ̄

mà̰?

run-Nmlz

need

St+

2sg

CONT

‘Do you want to run?’

12The suffix -nominalizes various predicates. It can attach to verbs (nṵ̄ ‘to come’ – nṵ̄lɛ̀ ‘(the) coming’), adjectives (gɛ̄ŋ̄ ‘beautiful’ – gɛ̄nɛ̀ ‘beauty’), and a few nouns (lɔ̌ ‘slave’ – lɔ̀lɛ́ ‘slavery’).

13In some usages, verbal stems with the suffix -lɛ function like participles, relativizing the semantic object:

(26)

gā̰

wī-lɛ̀

foot

swell-Nmlz

‘swollen foot’ (can also be interpreted as ‘swelling of feet’)

(27)

Ŋ-ó

zrḭ̀ŋ̀

kásíé-lɛ́

lú.

1sg-St

corn

roast-Nmlz

buy

‘I’ll buy roasted corn’.

(28)

Ŋ-ó

ŋ̄

gā̰

yrɔ̀-lɛ́

búénɛ́ló.

1sg-St+

1sg

foot

wrench-Nmlz

steam.Prog

‘I am steaming my wrenched foot’.

14Interestingly, there are examples where the definite article lɛ̀ and the demonstrative element bì, which normally follow all adjectives in a noun phrase, precede the “participial” nominalization in ‑lɛ, and the semantic head can even be doubled by an object pronoun, as is regular for direct objects:

(29)

Ŋ-ó

[[zrḭ̀ŋ̀

bì-lɛ̀] NP

à

kásíé-lɛ́]NP

lú.

1sg-St+

corn

this-Def

3sg

roast-Nmlz

buy

‘I will buy this roasted corn’.

15The determiners can also follow the “participial” deverbal noun:

(30)

Ŋ-ó

[zrḭ̀ŋ̀

kásíé-lɛ́

bì-lɛ̀]

à

lú.

1sg-St+

corn

roast-Nmlz

this-Def

3sg

buy

‘I will buy this roasted corn’.

16Native speakers report a subtle contrast betweeen (29) and (30), whereby (29) can be interpreted as ‘I will buy this corn roasted’. The exact syntactic structure of (29) is not entirely clear. We might be dealing with some kind of partitive or possessive construction (‘the roast of this corn’), as indicated by the tentative syntactic bracketing in (29). On the other hand, the translation of (29) suggests that kásíélɛ́ might be a secondary predicate, although the preverbal position of kásíélɛ́ contrasts with all well-established instances of secondary predicates in Beng (see 12.2.4), which follow the main verb of the sentence rather than precede it as does kásíélɛ́ in (29). I leave the question of whether the preverbal position of secondary predicates, as attested in cognate languages, is also available in Beng, for further study. Whatever the exact syntactic structure of (29), it is clear that the semantic contrast is based on the relative syntactic scope of the determiner and the “participle”: in one case, one talks about the (this corn) roasted, while in the other case we hear about this (roasted corn), reflecting the ordering of the two attributes of corn.

6.3. Locative nominalization in –ya

17The mobile tone suffix –ya combines with verbs, adjectives, all locative nouns including locative postpositions, and a few nouns denoting social relations. From the distributional viewpoint derivatives in -ya are locative nouns, i.e. nouns that can be used in adverbial positions without a postposition:

(31)

Ŋ́

nṵ́

pɔ̄

blē-yà.

1sg:Pst+

come:L

thing

eat-Plc

‘I came to the eating place’.

18When derived from a verb, the –ya form refers to the place or time of an event. There’s a systematic ambiguity between the temporal and the spacial readings, although context often helps to differentiate the two:

(32)

Ŋ-ó

zrō-yá

dɔ̄-ɔ̀ló.

1sg-St+

wash-Plc

build-Prog

‘I build a bathing place’.

(33)

Mǎ̰

zrō-yá

yè

ɛ́.

1sg:Pst-

wash-Plc

have:L

Neg

‘I had no time (or no place) to wash’.

19A derived form in –ya referring to the time of an action and used in an adverbial position indicates simultaneity of two events:

(34)

Ŋò

trí-yá

ná̰

ŋò-ó

dǎ

ŋ̄

ló

nɔ̰̄.

3pl

return-Plc

Top

3pl-St

find

1sg

on

here

‘On the way back (literally ‘returning’) they will find me here’.

20When the derived form in ‑ya is used in this function of a simultaneity converb, and the subject of action referred to in the ya-form is not overtly mentioned in a pronoun or a full NP, the said subject has to be coreferential with the subject of the main clause, cf.:

(35)

i/*j

Drɛ̰̄

wō-yà

ná̰

má̰i

ŋòj

yè.

work

do-Plc

Top

1sg:Pst+

3pl

see:L

‘I saw them when I (*they) worked’.

21In case the subject of the ya-converb is overt, it does not have to be coreferential with the main clause subject, cf. (35) and (36):

(36)

Ŋòj

drɛ̰̄

wō-yà

ná̰

má̰i

ŋòj

yè.

3pl

work

do-Plc

Top

1sg:Pst+

3pl

see:L

‘I saw them when they worked’.

22The form in –ya derived from adjectives refers to the place in which the property denoted by the adjective is localized, e.g.:

(37)

Bànɛ̀

yā̰

ná̰

gɛ̄ŋ-yà

ɲɛ̰̄

lɛ́

lòklɛ̄

lɛ̀

ɛ̄

Bane

Emph

Top

3sg

beautiful-Plc

Foc

3sg:Pst+

Cop:L

3sg

neck

Def

Foc

‘Bane’s neck makes him beautiful’

literally: As for Bane, it is the place of his beauty, his neck).

23With locative nouns, –ya has the meaning of ‘extended localization’ and is an exact semantic equivalent of the suffix -da:-/-dar- in Bezhta (Daghestanian; Kibrik, Testelec 2004) which is added to suffixes of localization like ‘in’, ‘on top of’, etc., and means ‘in (the direction of) the area of whatever is specified by localization proper’, compare märäL’ä ‘on top of the mouintain’ vs. märäL’ädäː ‘(somewhere) in the area on top of the mountain’ (Kibrik 2003: 44). Compare:

(38a)

Kósá̰

tá-nā̰

wlá.

Kosan

3sg:Pst+:go-Prf

house

‘Kosan has gone home’.

(38b)

Kósá̰

tá-nā̰

wlá-yá.

Kosan

3sg:Pst+:go-Prf

house-Plc

‘Kosan has gone towards home’.

(39a)

Kósá̰

tá-nā̰

zīē

lù.

Kosan

3sg:Pst+:go-Prf

kapok

under

‘Kosan has gone under the kapok tree’.

(39b)

Kósá̰

tá-nā̰

zīē

lù-yà.

Kosan

3sg:Pst+:go-Prf

kapok

under-Plc

‘Kosan has gone towards the area under the kapok tree’.

(40a)

jɛ́

wlá

wē.

3sg:Pst+

pass

house

there

‘He passed through the house’.

(40b)

jɛ́

wlá-yá

wē.

3sg:Pst+

pass

house-Plc

there

‘He passed by the house’.

24Finally,–ya derived forms from some nouns denoting social relations adverbs with the meaning ‘according to the social relation X’:

(41)

Ŋ

ŋò

gbà

blɛ̆

lɛ̀

sīā-yà.

3pl:Pst+

3pl

give:L

wine

Def

in.law-Plc

‘They gave them wine according to in-lawhood’ (e.g. everyone gave wine to his mother-in-law).

(42)

Dā̰ŋ̄

nḭ́

yrámà̰

ná̰

ŋò

lɛ́ŋ́

nṵ̀ŋ̀

bò

sòlásí

lɔ̀-yá.

war

Def

time

Top

3pl:Hab+

child

Pl

extract

soldier

slave-Plc

‘During war, one selected children for military service by slave status’ (in other words: One chose slave kids to become soldiers).

6.4. Predicative forms of verbs

25Beng uses six different verb forms in the predicate position, distinguished on the basis of tense, aspect, modality, and polarity. For more information on their usage, see 12.1.

26Two of the predicative forms do not bear affixes and are distinguished by tone. In one of those affix-free forms, the tone is lexically specified. I call this form the base form. The other form bears a low grammatical tone; I call it the low tone form. Here are some examples of the two affix-less forms of several verbs: mḭ̄, mḭ́ to drink’; tá, tà to go’; dǎ, dà to drop’; zrö, zrò to wash’; jàtê, jàtè to respect. Several verb stems keep a high tone on the last syllable constant in the low tone form, compare yāló, yàló ‘to stand up, mɛ̰̄lá, mɛ̰̀lá to fall on the ground. Paesler (1989) calls such syllables ‘suffixes’, although it might be more precise to characterize them as ‘suffixoids’ as there aren’t sufficient reasons to consider them distinct morphemes from the synchronical viewpoint: they are not productive and it is hard to to differentiate their exact semantic contribution. All verbs with suffixoids share the semantics of movement; compare the status of an etymologically identical element in Tura (Idiatov 2009).

27Four predicative forms bear suffixes, and can be given more functional labels: stative; affirmative perfect; negative perfect; and progressive.

28The stative suffix –lɛ̀ and the negative perfect suffix –sà are low tone suffixes. The suffix of affirmative perfect nā̰ (or sometimes ā ) bears a constant mid tone. The suffix nā̰ also differs from all other suffixes in that the stem-final low tone of the verb is not elided before it, contra the general rule (cf. 6.1.4): mḭ̄mḭ́ ‘to suck’ – mḭ̄mḭ́ nā̰, drùdr‘to walk a lot’ – drùdrȗ nā̰, túà ‘to leave’ – túà nā̰. An idiosyncratic exception is the verb gṵ̄à̰ ‘to remain’, perfect form gṵ̄ā̰ nā̰).

29The progressive marker –lɛló consists of two elements: –ló, grammaticalized from the postposition ‘on’, and –lɛ, derived from the nominalization marker, which bears a mobile tone and has surface variants - and -ɛ (the latter can be seen as the result of [l] deletion). The vowel in the -ɛ variant normally assimilates to the immediately preceding vowel in nasality and quality. It becomes a after a and ɔ after rounded vowels, and remains ɛ after front vowels.

30Along with mobile tone, the progressive form is also attested with low tone on the - / -ɛ component. So along with the more frequent progressive form tááló, the verb ‘to go’ has a rare form táàló, the progressive drùɔ́ló of drǔ ‘to walk’ has a rare variant drùɔ̑ló, etc.

31Verbs with a low tone on the last syllable and a mid tone on the penultimate syllable (mostly reduplicated verbs), have a special tonal behavior in the progressive. Unlike in other suffixed forms, the final low tone of those verbs is not deleted, cf. the progressive mḭ̄mḭ́ɛ̀ló of mḭ̄mḭ́ ‘to suck’ vs. L deletion in the nomilanization mḭ̄mḭ̄lɛ̀, location nominalization mḭ̄mḭ̄yà etc.

32The progressive marker is clearly segmentable into the nominalization suffix - and the locative postposition ló. However, the [l] deletion and the abovementioned tonal idiosyncrasies (the mḭ̄mḭ́ɛ̀ló and drùɔ̑ló types) formally distinguish the progressive from nominalization.

6.5. The goal converb

33The goal of motion converb is derived with the low tone suffix ‑уа̀, distinct from the location nominalization suffix –уa that bears a mobile tone. For the verbal stems ending in a non-high tone element the two forms are identical. E.g. mḭ̄yà, the location nominalization, is at the same time the goal converb of mḭ̄to drink’. For stems ending in a high tone, the two forms differ, cf. jóyá ‘time or place of talking’ (locative nominalization) vs. jóyà ‘in order to talk’ (goal converb) from jó to talk. The goal converb’s distribution is limited to combinations with only three motion verbs. With the verbs ‘to go’ and nṵ̄ ‘to come’ the converb indicates the goal of motion. The combination of these two verbs with the goal converb can also be used as a periphrastic future construction similar to the English to be going to, see 12.1.5. With the verb bɔ̄ ‘to come (from)’ the goal converb indicates the subject’s actions at the point of departure:

(43a)

Ŋ́

nṵ́

drù-yâ.

1sg:Pst+

come:L

walk-GL

‘I came for a walk’.

(43b)

(*Ŋ́

drɛ̰̄

wò

drù-yâ.)

1sg:Pst+

work

do:L

walk-GL

(*I worked to walk.)

(44)

Ŋ́

bɔ́

drù-yâ.

1sg:Pst+

come.form:L

walk-GL

‘I came from a walk’.

6.6. Agent and means nominalizations

34In addition to the event nominalization in - and the location/time nominalization in –уa, which we have already discussed, Beng also has suffixes for the agent and the means nominalizations.

35The means nominalization, formed with the mobile tone suffix –(derived from the noun pɔ̄ ‘thing’), can refer to the instrument, the means, or the cause of an event:

(45)

Bèyā̰

lēŋ̄

túá-pɔ́

lɛ́

blɛ̌

lɛ̀.

Beyan

3sg

woman

leave-Men

3sg:Pst+Cop:L

wine

Def

‘Alcohol was the reason of Beyan’s divorce’.

(46)

Ŋ́

yā-pɔ̀

dō

lù.

1sg:Pst

move-Men

one

buy:L

‘I bought an instrument for moving around’ (this could be shoes, a car, a bicycle etc.).

36The agent nominalization in -lí relativizes the subject and can have arbitrary aspectual or temporal interpretation:

(47)

Ŋ́

pɔ̄

blē-lí

lɛ̀

yè.

1sg:Pst+

thing

eat-Ag

Def

see:L

‘I saw the eater’ (the one who eats / was eating / will eat etc.).

37But usually, the agent nominalization refers to the habitual rather than episodic agent:

(48)

pɔ̄

bɛ́ɛ̄

blē-lí,

drɛ̰̄

wō-lí,

sɔ̰̀ŋ̀

dɛ̄-lí,

jó-lí

thing

big

eat-Ag

work

do-Ag

human

kill-Ag

talk-Ag

‘glutton, worker, murderer, talker’

(49)

Dēlà

lɛ́

vlòŋ̀vló-lí

bɛ́ɛ̄

dō.

Dela

3sg:Pst+

Cop:L

worry-Ag

big

one

‘Dela (male name) is easy to disturb’. (literally: ‘Dela is a great worryer’.)

6.7. Relics of the participle

38The suffix -lē forms adjectives with resulting state meanings from several verbs. The verb’s stem changes its tone from M to L when combining with -lē. Here are all the attested examples:

gā ‘to die, to dry out’ – gàlē ‘dead, dry’

mā̰ ‘to boil’ – mà̰lē ‘boiled’

mā̰mà̰ ‘to ripen’ – mà̰mà̰lē ‘ripe’

ŋṵ̄ā̰ ‘to burn’ – ŋṵ̀à̰lē ‘burned’

pā ‘to fill’ – pàlē ‘filled’

tā ‘to close’ – tàlē ‘closed’

trā̰ ‘to redden, to ripen’ – trà̰lē ‘red, ripe’

vɔ̰̄ ‘to rot’ – vɔ̰̀lē ‘rotten’

39Suffix -lē combined with the verb bā ‘to bear fruit’ produces a somewhat irregular meaning: bàlē, pɔ̄bàlē ‘seeds, plants’

6.8. Reduplication

6.8.1. The formal aspect of reduplication

40In Beng, reduplication is generally full, applying to stems of adjectives, verbs, numerals, and some adverbs and nouns. The major exception to the full reduplication pattern is the fact that in verb reduplication, only the segmental base is repeated. The tonal pattern of the original stem stays on the first part of the reduplicated verb, while the second part gets a low tone: mḭ̄ ‘to drink’ – mḭ̄mḭ̀ ‘to suck’, gā ‘to dry out’– gāgà ‘to dry out (referring to multiple objects)’, só ‘to chew’ – sósò ‘to thin down’, yāló ‘to stand up’ – yālóyàlò ‘to stand up (referring to multiple people)’. If the last syllable of the original verb stem has a contour tone, the latter component of the contour tone spreads to the following syllable, by general rule (see 6.1.2): fǎ̰ ‘to strip’→ fǎ̰fà̰ fà̰fâ̰ ‘to strip repeatedly’, dǎ ‘to drop’ → dǎdà dàdâ ‘to put in (multiple objects)’, blä ‘to stick in’ → bläblà blāblâ ‘to stick in (multiple objects)’. Reduplicated verb stems form all predicative and derivational verb forms by general rules.

41Adjective reduplication is usually complete with respect to both segmental and tonal patterns, compare: gɛ̄ŋ̄ ‘beautiful’ – gɛ̄ŋ̄gɛ̄ŋ̄ ‘beautiful (plural)’, cǎ ‘short’ – cǎcǎ (plural), blúá ‘blue’ – blúáblúá (plural). However, long vowels at the end of adjectives can shorten in reduplicated forms. The conditions of this shortening are not clear. Sometimes reduplicated adjectives do not exhibit any shortening, cf. fééféé ‘very narrow’ (in reference to a hole) from féé ‘narrow’ (in reference to a hole), pǐìpǐì ‘very tiny’ from pǐì ‘tiny’, fóófóó ‘very deep’ from fóó ‘deep’, pɔ̀ɔ̀pɔ̀ɔ̀pɔ̀ɔ̀pɔ̀ɔ̀ ‘very malleable’ from pɔ̀ɔ̀pɔ̀ɔ̀ ‘malleable’. Sometimes shortening occurs only in the first part of the reduplicated form, cf. tɛ̰́tɛ̰́ɛ̰́ ‘very red’ from tɛ̰́ɛ̰́ ‘red’, fífíí ‘very narrow’ from fíí ‘narrow’, kótíkótíí ‘very little’ from kótíí ‘little’, títíí ‘very black’ from tíí ‘black’, yɔ́yɔ́ɔ́ ‘very cool’ from yɔ́ɔ́ ‘cool’. The third group of adjectives shorten the final vowel in both parts of the reduplicated form: bɛ̀tɛ̀bɛ̀tɛ̀ ‘very slow’ from bɛ̀tɛ̀ɛ̀ ‘slow’, kpɔ̀sɔ̀kpɔ̀sɔ̀ ‘very grainy’ from kpɔ̀sɔ̀ɔ̀ ‘grainy (texture)’, mɔ̰̀tɔ̰̀mɔ̰̀tɔ̰̀ ‘very soft’ from mɔ̰̀tɔ̰̀ɔ̰̀ ‘soft’, nɔ̰̀fɔ̰̀nɔ̰̀fɔ̰̀ ‘very elastic’ from nɔ̰̀fɔ̰̀ɔ̰̀ ‘elastic’. For púú ‘white’, two reduplicated forms are attested in my notes, púpúú in the sense of ‘very white’ and púpú in the sense of ‘white (plural)’. It is not clear if there is a regular relation between the shortening pattern and the intensive vs. plural interpretation that this pair of examples seems to point at.

42Stem-final /ŋ/ can cause a change in the first consonant of the second half of a reduplicated form. Some of those forms exhibit ŋC simplification (see 4.2.1), e.g. plāmlāŋ̄ ‘two each’ < /plāŋ̄ plāŋ̄/ (reduplication of plāŋ̄ ‘two’), bṵ̄ā̰mṵ̄ā̰ŋ̄ ‘thirty each’ < /bṵ̄ā̰ŋ̄ bṵ̄ā̰ŋ̄/ (reduplication of bṵ̄ā̰ŋ̄ ‘thirty’); such simplification is not regular, cf. būkēŋēsíéŋ́būkēŋēsíéŋ́ ‘eighty each’ (reduplication of būkēŋēsíéŋ́ ‘eighty’) without simplification. Fricatives are not subject to ŋC simplification but undergo voicing after /ŋ/ in a reduplicated form, e.g. fɔ̀ŋ̀vɔ̀ŋ̀ ‘cloudy’ < /fɔ̀ŋ̀fɔ̀ŋ̀/ (reduplication of fɔ̀ŋ̀ ‘having shade’); sɔ́ŋ́zɔ́ŋ́ ‘five each’ < /sɔ́ŋ́ sɔ́ŋ́/ (reduplication of sɔ́ŋ́ ‘five’).

43Two adjectives, glë ‘difficult’ and bɛ́ɛ̄ ‘big’, are exceptions to full reduplication at the tone level. Their reduplicated forms are gléglë and bɛ́bɛ̄ respectively.

6.8.2. Semantics of reduplication

44The semantic effect of reduplication is similar across parts of speech, always adding a quantitative component to the meaning. In adjectives, reduplication may indicate plurality (‘more than one object’), cf. (50a) and (51), or property intensity (52b):

(50a)

sɔ̰̀ŋ̀

gɛ̄ŋ̄~gɛ̄ŋ̄

(nṵ̀ŋ̀)

person

beautiful~Pl

Pl

‘handsome people’

(50b)

sɔ̰̀ŋ̀

gɛ̄ŋ̄

nṵ̀ŋ̀

person

beautiful

Pl

‘handsome people’

(51)

sɔ̰̀ŋ̀

gblɛ̰̄ŋ̄~gblɛ̰̄ŋ̄

//

gblɛ̰̄ŋ̄

nṵ̀ŋ̀

person

tall~Pl

tall

Pl

‘tall people’

(52a)

gɔ̄ŋ̄

dɔ̀í

man

first

‘the first man’

(52b)

gɔ̄ŋ̄

dɔ̀í~dɔ̀í

man

first~very

‘the very first man’

45For some adjectives, the reduplicated form is used only in the function of plural, cf. the ungrammatical NP *sɔ̰̀ŋ̀ gblɛ̰̄ŋ̄gblɛ̰̄ŋ̄ dō ‘one (very) tall person’.

46The adjective bɛ́ɛ̄ ‘big’ is unique in restricting the non-reduplicated form to the singular and allowing only the reduplicated one in the plural (kló ‘little’ shows a similar number distinction but produces the plural form by suppletion, not reduplication). Unlike gblɛ̰̄ŋ̄, which shows variation in the plural, bɛ́ɛ̄ has complementary distribution of the two forms:

(53a)

gɔ̄ŋ̄

bɛ́ɛ̄ (/ *bɛ́~bɛ̄)

dō

man

big / *big~Pl

one

‘one big man’

(53b)

gɔ̄ŋ̄

bɛ́~bɛ̄ /*bɛ́ɛ̄)

nṵ̀ŋ̀

man

big~Pl / *big

Pl

‘big men’

47Apart from irregular idiomatic meaning, verb reduplication can add iterativity, as in (54b), or plurality of a participant, as in (55b,d):

(54a)

Ŋ-ó

drù-ɔ́ló.

1sg-St+

walk-Prog

‘I am walking’.

(54b)

Ŋ-ó

drù~drú-ɔ́ló.

1sg-St+

walk~Iter-Prog

‘I am walking (repeatedly back and forth)’.

(55a)

bè-ɛ́ló.

3sg:St+

run-Prog

‘He is running’.

(55b)

bè~bé-ɛ́ló.

3sg:St+

run~Iter-Prog

‘He is running (repeatedly back and forth)’ (event plurality).

(55c)

Ŋ

bè-ɛ́ló.

3sg:St+

run-Prog

‘They are running’.

(55d)

Ŋ

bè~bé-ɛ́ló.

3sg:St+

run~Pl /~Iter-Prog

‘They are running’ (partricipant plurality) or ‘They are running (back and forth)’ (event plurality).

48Verb reduplication indicating participant plurality can be seen as ergative number agreement, i.e. the participant that controls the agreement is the direct object or the intransitive subject. This agreement is semantic rather than syntactic in nature.

49Reduplication of cardinal numerals produces distributive ones:

(56)

Nà̰

gɔ̄ŋ̄

blɛ̀ɲà

ŋò

nā̰

plāmlāŋ̄

ŋā̰ŋā̰ŋ̄.

DT

man

rich

3pl:Hab+

wife

two~Distr

three~Distr

‘Rich people used to have two or three wives each’.

(Note two instances of ŋC simplification in reduplicated forms in example 56; see 4.2.1.)

50Finally, the reduplicated form of temporal nouns (see 7.1 for a brief discussion of this class) also has a distributive interpretation (‘on Fridays’, ‘nightly’, etc.). This reduplication pattern is productive for the following classes of words: a) names of days in the traditional six-day week; b) names of days in the seven-day week borrowed from the Baule; and c) names of parts of the day cycle pàló ‘daytime’, yēnɔ̌ ‘evening’, drú ‘morning’, yrú ‘night’. Example of usage:

(57)

Yrú~yrú

ná̰

ŋ̀

yì.

night~Distr

Top

1sg:Hab+

sleep

‘At night I (generally) sleep’.

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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Denis Paperno, « Morphology of content words », Mandenkan, 51 | 2014, 30-42.

Référence électronique

Denis Paperno, « Morphology of content words », Mandenkan [En ligne], 51 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2014, consulté le 28 juillet 2017. URL : http://mandenkan.revues.org/559 ; DOI : 10.4000/mandenkan.559

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Auteur

Denis Paperno

University of Trento, Italy
denis.paperno@gmail.com

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