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Query Details

Query Subject:   Reduplication as a Valency-Adjusting Strategy
Author:   Clement Appah
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Morphology

Query:   Dear LINGUIST List members,

In the formation of Action Nominals (ANs) in Akan, intransitive verbs are
nominalized through the prefixation of [a-] (or its +ATR variant [e-] for
Fante), as in (1), while transitive verbs incorporate (are compounded
with) their internal arguments. This is the incorporating (INC) type of
ANs (Koptjevskaja-Tamm, 1993), as in (2).

(1) a. dzidzi -> e-dzidzi
'eat (intr.)' '(act of) eating'
b. saw -> a-saw
'dance' 'dancing'

(2) a. dzi edziban -> edzibandzi
'eat (tr.)food' 'eating'
b. tow ndwom -> ndwomtow
'sing song' 'singing'

In a handful of cases, instead of the incorporation of the internal
argument, the verb is (re)-reduplicated to form the nominal. Here, the
(re)-reduplicated forms undergo affixation just like intransitive verbs.

Input Derived AN
a. ka asεm -> asεmka
'say matter' 'settling issues'
b. keka nsεm -> nsεmkeka
c. keka keka nsεm -> *nsεmkekakeka
d. keka keka nsεm -> a-kekakeka

I suspect that this reduplication process is the remains of a defunct
valency altering (de-transitivizing) strategy in Akan where intransitive
forms of verbs were formed from transitive ones by reduplicating the
later and that the distinction between the two forms of the verb EAT –
dzi 'eat (transitive)' and dzidzi 'eat (intransitive)' are the fossilized
remains of this defunct process.

Other reduplicated intransitive verbs became lexicalized, as in (4) cf.
Balmer and Grant (1929).

(4) kã -> kekã
'to touch' 'to grope'
tow -> totow
'to throw' 'to fish'

I would be pleased to receive information on languages with an active
process (or even the fossilized remains of such a process) of deriving
intransitive verbs from transitive ones through reduplication.

I am aware of Bill Palmer's (1999) PhD Dissertation which deals briefly
with the subject in Kokota.

Please send any responses directly to me:

Thank you in advance of your assistance,

Clement Appah
PhD Student, Lancaster University


Balmer, William T., and F.C.F. Grant. 1929. A Grammar of the Fante-
Akan Language. London: Atlantic Press.

Koptjevskaja-Tamm M. 1993. Nominalizations. London/New York:
LL Issue: 21.1858
Date posted: 17-Apr-2010


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