Akan Teleteaching Course

Unit 7.5: Notes on grammar 2

Derivation

Derivation is usually defined as a process of word-formation by which elements affected by it undergo a change of category, e.g. from verb to noun. There are, however, cases of lexical derivation where the elements affected by it do not change their category. Using different morphological procedures in each case, nouns may be derived from nominal stems, and verbs from verbal stems.
 
Affected word-classes
Morphological process
1. Nouns Affixation
2. Verbs Reduplication

1.1. Nouns formed from nouns: Agentive nouns (cf. also Notes on grammar 1)

Deriving agentive nouns from simplex nouns is a highly productive process in Akan. 
  • Prefixes:
The prefixes for singular and plural are, respectively, - and a-. Sometimes the prefix of the underlying noun is retained, and where there is no prefix, like in names (Kumase) or loan words (sukuu), none is added. 
  • Suffixes:
-fo is the suffix for both singular and plural. If the agentive noun indicates an occupation or a characteristitrait, the singular suffix is -n (cf. sukuun)
Root
Meaning
Prefix
Suffix
Nom. noun
Meaning
sukuu
school
-n
sukuun
pupil, student
-fo
sukuufo
pupils, students
efe
house
o-
-fo
offo
person of the same house(hold)
a-
-fo
affo
people of the same house(hold)
Kumase
Kumasi (town)
-fo
Kumasefo
inhabitants of Kumasi
h
here (-> spatial relations in Akan)
-fo
hfo
people (over) there
mmep so
on the mountains
-fo
mmepsofo
mountain people
Table 1


1.2. Nouns formed from nouns: Diminutives/females

The diminutive suffix in Akan -wa(a) or -a respectively, is derived from ba 'child'. Apart from diminution, it also serves to denote females. It occurs also in personal names (cf. Akan names 2) like Baduwaa, and so forth. The -wa- suffix is, however, no longer productive.
Root
Meaning
Prefix
Suffix
Nom. noun
Meaning
baa
woman
a-
-wa
abaawa
girl
m-
-wa
mmaawa
girls
barma
man
a-
-a
abarimaa
boy
m-
-a
mmarimaa
boys
dade
iron
-wa
dadewa
nail
wfaase
nephew
-wa
wfaasewa
niece
Badu
10th born male
-waa
Baduwaa
10th born female
Table 2


2. Verbs formed form verbs: Reduplication

(Following the analysis by Dolphyne, [1988: 124-138])
Reduplication is a word-formation process which consists of the repetition of the whole or part of a stem.

Compare the following simple and reduplicated forms of monosyllabic verbs:
Simple verb
Meaning
Reduplicated form
1. tu dig tutu
2. to [t] fling, cast toto [tt]
3. t buy tot [tt]
4. d eat ddi
5. te [t] sit, live tete [tt]
6. gye [gy] get gyegye [gygy]
7. da lie down, sleep deda [dda]
8. d cultivate, weed dod [dd]
9. hw look at hwehw [hwhw]
10. fe [f] vomit fefe [ff]
11. twa cut twtwa
12. pa remove pepa/popa [ppa/ppa]
Table 3a

  • The first syllable of the reduplicated form is called its prefix.
  • The consonant of the prefix is the same as the consonant of the stem.
  • What changes in some cases is the vowel.
By comparing, in the right hand columns, the properties of the stem vowel, you can find out the harmony rules which explain the changes in the prefix vowel.
Simple form
Meaning
Reduplicated form
Stem vowel
Rounded
High close
/a/
1. tu dig tutu
+
+
.
2. to [t] fling, cast toto [tt]
+
-
.
3. t buy tot [tt]
+
-
.
4. d eat ddi
-
+
.
5. te [t] sit, live tete [tt]
-
-
.
6. gye [gy] get gyegye [gygy]
-
-
.
7. da lie down, sleep deda [dda]
-
-
+
8. d cultivate, weed dod [dd]
+
-
.
9. hw look at hwehw [hwhw]
-
-
.
10. fe [f] vomit fefe [ff]
-
-
.
11. twa cut twtwa
-
+
+
12. pa remove pepa/popa [ppa/ppa]
-
-
+
Table 3b

As you can see, the criteria for choosing the prefix vowel are straightforward:
(i) If the stem vowel is round (or back, if you prefer) the prefix vowel is also round; if the stem vowel is not round, the prefix vowel is unrounded and front.
(ii) If the stem vowel is of the high close variety, i.e. /i/ or /u/, the prefix vowel also is high close, of exactly the same quality. If the stem vowel is not high close, the quality of the prefix vowel is still high but at the same time unadvanced (-ATR), either |e| or |o|, pronounced [] and [].

If the stem vowel is -a, there seems to be some hesitation as to which vowel the prefix should take. Look at the following list of examples and try to find out:
(13) nya get, receive nynya
(14) gya leave behind gygya
(15) twa cut twtwa/tutwa
(16) sua [sa] be small susua [sŠsa]
(17) kwa polish floor kokwa [kkwa]
(18) ka bite keka [kka]
(19) k say kk [kk]
(20) pa remove pepa/popa [ppa/ppa]
Table 4

  • If the consonant is unmodified or labio-palatalised, the prefix vowel is |e| (= [])
  • Exception: /p/ may be considered to comprise a labial component; this is the reason why it can cause the prefix vowel to be |o| (= []) as after labialisation (see next).
  • If the consonant is labialised (lip rounding) without being at the same time palatalised, the prefix vowel is rounded.
  • The nasalisation of the stem vowel disappears on the prefix vowel (compare (18) and (19)).
Reduplication of polysyllabic verb stems:
(21) sie hide siese
(22) tia step on tieta
(23) bisa ask bisebsa
(24) gyina stand gyinegyna (also: gyinagyna)
(25) fri go out ffiri
(26) fri buy on credit firifiri
(27) fr  call  frfr
(28) kan read kenkan [keka]
(29) compare: k say kk [kk]
(30) tn sell tontn [tnt]
Table 5

In all cases except (25) the syllable structure of the prefix replicates the syllable structure of the stem: if the latter is CV, the prefix is CV, if it is CCV, the prefix is CCV (e.g. in (27)), if it is CVCV, the prefix ist CVCV (e.g. (23), (24)).

The different behaviour of firi 'come from' reflects the fact that its second syllable is weak (-> Unit 2.7 d, examples (2) and (4) ) and may be dropped in certain circumstances.

And now try yourself to produce reduplicated forms of verbs: Exercise 2.

Hw ye:

  • For the tones of the reduplicated verbs, see Dolphyne (1988: 134 f.)
  • For the reduplication of reduplicated verbs, see Dolphyne (1988: 132 f.)
  • Tense-aspect forms of reduplicated verbs follow the same rules as those of simple verbs.
Semantishift
Reduplicated verbs often indicate repeated action, a plural subject or a plural object. Sometimes, there is a semantishift away from the original meaning of the basiverb towards a new meaning of the reduplicated verb:
Basic verb
Meaning
Reduplicated verb
Meaning
da lie, sleep deda put to sleep (e.g. child)
d eat ddi eat (without object)
fr call frfr call (with plural object)
hw look hwehw look for, search
pa skim the surface pepa wipe
tu dig up tutu keep digging (also with plural object)
bisa ask bisebsa keep asking
horo wash (clothes) hohoro wash up
kasa speak, talk kasakasa complain, nag, quarrel
Table 6

Examples:
Kof rekasa. Kofi is speaking. Kofi rekasakasa. Kofi is complaining.
Kfr no! Go and call him/her! Kfrfr wn! Go and call them!
Amma da mpa no so. Amma is sleeping on the bed. Amma rededa ne ba. Amma is putting her child to bed.

Word-formation is continued in:
-> Compounds (Notes on grammar 3)

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