NominalisationAgentive and abstract nouns are derived from verbs or verb phrases. The processes involved in nominalisation are:
(a) prefixation of a nominal prefix (singular or plural) to the verb stem.
(b) suffixation of an agentive or abstract suffix to the verb stem;
(c) verb stem reduplication;
(d) inversion of word order in the verb phrase: the complement precedes the verb instead of following it;
(e) tonal changes;
(f) application of vowel harmony rules: from right to left if the final suffix is agentive -nä, from left to right if the final suffix is vocalic.
(Prefixes: compare with Akan noun classes in Unit 4).
1. Nouns derived from simple verbs with the
help of nominalising affixes (abstract derivatives in broken lines):
Comments on Table 1(i) The agentive noun is formed with a prefix and a suffix.
Agentive nouns that spell out character traits or
identifying features or specify professions often have the singular suffix
and the plural suffix
is derived from onii
'person'; e.g., obibinä
is a person whose skin is black, i.e. an African.
(ii) Abstract nouns always take a prefix, but take a suffix only under certain conditions.
2. Nouns formed from reduplicated verbs:
Nouns formed from reduplicated verb stems have nominal prefixes and suffixes like nouns from simple verbs
3. Nouns derived from verb phrases
Prefixes and suffixes are used in the same way as with nominalisations derived from simple verbs.
Inversion takes place between the verb and its complement: the latter precedes the former.
Tones: there is a tendency for all lexical constituents involved in the process to loose their inherent lexical tones except the last syllable which is High.
Unfortunately, this characteristic pattern does not
always apply. Therefore we still have to learn when it does apply, and
in which cases the inherent tones are maintained. In the examples below,
it applies consistently to agentive nouns. As to abstract nouns, the tone
loss applies to 'learning' and 'thanking' but not to 'journey' and 'trading'.
Inverted nouns loose their suffixes: -e, -ñ, -o or -õ (cf. adeáñ). But the nominalised expression as a whole will be suffixed (e, ñ, o, õ), if the stem ends in an open syllable i, e [ò], u, o [ö], cf. akwaántu-o, adwaádä-e - as stated above for action verbs derived from simple verbs.
(ii) Agentive nouns: the rules of affixation are
exactly those spelled out above for agentives derived from simple stems.
Both prefix and suffix are obligatory. In the singular, the õ-
is used, in the plural form the
and sometimes N- (m, n), depending on the
verb stem. The suffix -foáõ
is added to either singular or plural. Agentive nouns that spell out character
or identifying traits or specify professions often have the singular suffix
and the plural suffix -foáõ.
4. Nouns derived from so-called phrasal verbs:
Phrasal verbs owe their specific meaning to the lexically fixed combination of a core verb and a postposition. Postpositions typically express spatial relationships:
Additional learning material: The English prepositions: 'under', 'on', 'behind', 'in front of', 'in(side)' are postpositions in Akan. These, again, are in fact nouns: aseá [aàsòá] 'under'; ñsoá [ñàsöá] 'on'; anäm [ðànäm] 'in front of'; akyä [ðàkyä] 'behind'; emuá 'in, inside'.
Their ñ-/e- resp. õ-/o- prefixes are dropped when they function as postpositions:
- akonnwaá soá "on a chair"
- daán noá muá "in the house/room", etc.
Complements of phrasal verbs are placed between the
core verb and the postposition.
Nouns derived from phrasal verbs retain the inherent order of the latter: contrary to other complements the postposition follows the verb in the nominalised form.
Phrasal verb derivates may only take the prefix N-.
Suffixes are added, as usual (see above), provided the final vowel is either
e [ò], u, or o
[ö] , cf. nkõso-õá.
It is mostly abstract nouns that are formed like this, but where it is
semantically possible, agentive nouns can be formed as well.