Prefix Productivity by Tongue Root in Standard Yorùbá

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Abisoye ELESIN


This paper examines the activities of Yorùbá prefixes with regard to their tongue root features. Prefixes in Yorùbá are vowels. It is believed that some harmonic relationship exist between these prefixes and the first vowels of root words which prefixes are attached to. The harmonic features of Tongue Root Harmony (Pulleyblank 1986, 1988, Archangeli and Pulleyblank 1989, Orie 2002) is employed to analyse the relationship between the prefix and the initial vowel of the root word. In vowel production, tongue root could either advance or retract. Vowels that are produced with the advancement of the tongue root are said to be vowels with [+ATR] features while those that are produced with the retraction of the tongue root are those with [-ATR] features. Yorùbá vowel system does not exhibit full harmony; it is only the mid-vowels (e, o, , ) that possess complete harmony. Ten semantic classes are used to determine the class of the derived nominal through [+ATR] and [-ATR] vowel prefixes. Analysis shows that prefixes with [+ATR] features derive a set of nominal classes different from those derived by prefixes with [-ATR] features. This paper concludes that [+ATR] and [-ATR] vowel prefixes are not definite in the class of nominals that can be derived based on the ten semantic classes employed in the study.

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How to Cite
ELESIN, A. . (2018). Prefix Productivity by Tongue Root in Standard Yorùbá. Journal of The Linguistic Association of Nigeria. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Abisoye ELESIN, Department of Linguistics, African and Asian Studies

University of Lagos.



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