The Morphosyntax of Pronouns in the Ìlàjẹ Dialect of Yorùbá

Master's Thesis, 2012
138 Pages, Grade: B






List of conventions

List of Figures


Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Ilàje : the dialect, the region and the people
1.2 Objectives of the study
1.3 Literature review
1.3.1 Views on the classification of Y oruba pronouns
1.3.2 Views on the derivation of Yoruba pronouns
1.3.3 Views on the forms of the pronoun
1.4 Justification of the study
1.5 Scope of the study
1.6 Theoretical framework
1.7 Source of data and methods of analysis
1.8 The representation of Ilaje sounds in the s tudy
1.9 Summary

Chapter two: Theoretical orientation
2.0 Introduction
2.1 Syntax-phonology interface modelling of the nonlinear morphology
2.2 The basic assumptions of the Minimalist framework
2.3 Functional analysis of the pronoun as a determiner
2.4 Covert analysis of the pronoun as pro
2.5 McCarthy’s theory: the autosegmental approach to morphology
2.6 The morphemic tier hypothesis and the morphosyntactic level of analysis
2.7 Summary

Chapter Three: The forms of Ilàje pronouns
3.0 Introduction
3.1 Ilàje pronouns: the basic and the derived forms
3.2 The long pronouns in subject and object positions
3.3 The short subject pronoun in Ilàje
3.4 The short pronoun as an object of the verb
3.5 The third-person singular covert pronoun and its recovery strategy
3.6 Summary

Chapter four:Morphophonemic structure of the short pronoun
4.0 Introduction
4.1 The subject high tone syllable and the subject pronoun in Ilaje
4.2 The short subject pronoun of the affirmative clause
4.3 The short subject pronoun of the negative clause
4.4 The short subject pronoun of the subjunctive clause
4.5 The short object pronouns
4.6 The object high tone (OHT) proposal
4.7. OHT proposal and the covert object
4.8 The emphatic morpheme of the long pronoun
4.9 Summary

Chapter Five: The Feature-based Syntax of Ilàje Pronouns
5.0 Introduction
5.1 Interpretable and uninterpretable features in the pronoun
5.2 Aghan and the pronoun-noun plural construction
5.3 The [+E] emphasis feature tier
5.4 Features deletion at the morphosyntactic level
5.5 The internal feature trigger in the short forms derivation ofIlaje pronouns
5.6 The pro drop trigger in Ilaje third -person singular pronoun
5.7 Morphosyntactic features deletion in the pronoun-noun plural construction
5.8 The structure of òghun as a logophoric pronoun
5.9 Summary

Chapter six: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion
6.0 Introduction
6.1 Summary of findings
6.1.1 The major forms of the pronoun
6.1.2 The pronoun in interface-based derivations
6.1.3 T ones and the pronoun
6.1.4 The pronoun as a constituent of the determiner phrase (DP)
6.1.5 Aghan as the plural marker of proper nouns
6.1.6 Aghan as the plural marker of common nouns
6.1.7 Pro analysis of the third-person singular covert pronoun
6.1.8 The internal structure of the long pronoun
6.1.9 The feature-based nonlinear morphemic structure of the pronoun
6.2 Conclusion
6.2.1. Pronoun in the PF interface
6.2.2 Pronoun and its tones in syntax
6.2.3 Pronoun and its derivation hypotheses
6.2.4 Ilàje pronouns and the DP hypothesis
6.3 Recommendations



I certify that this work was carried out by JAPHET Akintoye Samson in the Department of Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ibadan.

Department of Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.


This work is dedicated to my creator, the Almighty God; my wife, Margaret Olùwatóyìn Japhet; my daughter, Blessing Ore-Olúwa Japhet; and

my son, Joshua Pípeiore-Olúwa Japhet.


My profound gratitude goes to God who saw me through all the challenges I faced while undertaking this research work. I am also grateful to my supervisor, Prof. Augusta Phil Omamor, who took the pain to go through the pages and gave her utmost sincere counsel when necessary.

The work could not have reached this stage without the support I enjoyed from my teachers in the University of Ibadan. I have to acknowledge the roles played by Prof D.K. Owolabi, Prof S.O. Oyetade, Dr Arinpe Adejumo, Dr Herbert Igboanusi, Dr P.O. Taiwo, Dr S. Anurudu, Dr J.O. Fadoro and others on this work. Other members of staff in my Department, especially Mr Kelim Olenloa, were also of great help to me.

I am grateful for the assistance I received from Dr Dennis Akoh and other staff of Languages and Linguistics Department, Uniosun, Ikire Campus; Dr J.F. Ilori of AAUA, Akungba-Akoko; Mr R. A. Adesuyan of ACE, Ondo; Dr Akeem Salawu and Dr Abidemi Fabunmi of OAU, Ile-Ife; Prof Noam Chomsky of MIT, Massachusetts, USA who acknowledged the receipt of a draft of this work and agreed to read it through; and Dr E.I. Olaosun of OAU, Ile-Ife who read through the last draft of the work. I also need to acknowledge the efforts of all that have contributed to this work actively or passively whose names may not appear on this page, I pray that the Lord will not forget their labour of love.

My sincere gratitude goes to my helpers Mr Adéwùmi Fádiórá (Uncle Lawson) and Dr C O débòdé of Botany Department, University of Ibadan, for providing accommodation for me on campus for four good years. My pastors and my brethren in Deeper Life Campus Fellowship both in University of Ibadan, Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ilé-Ife are all appreciated for their contributions. Lastly, my profound gratitude goes to my friend and wife , Mrs. Margaret Olúwatóym Japhet, who stood by me in the storm. She is more than a wife.


illustration not visible in this excerpt


Fig. 1.1 Ìlàje sounds and their writing convention

Fig. 1.2 Ìlàje Phonetic Consonant chart

Fig. 1.3 Ìlàje Phonetic Vowel charts (oral and nasalised vowels)

Fig. 2.1 Major components of the language faculty in the minimalist framework

Fig. 3.1 The long forms of Ilaje pronouns

Fig. 4.1 Formation of the short subject pronoun of an affirmative clause

Fig. 4.2 Formation of the short subject pronoun of a negative clause

Fig. 4.3 Formation of the short subject pronoun of a subjunctive clause

Fig. 4.4 The prefixing emphasis in Yoruba long pronouns

Fig. 4.5 The prefixing derivation hypothesis and the second-person singular pronoun


Some studies on Standard Yoruba already have detailed structural accounts on the pronouns. However, similar studies are needed in the regional dialects. This study, therefore, examined the pronouns in Ilàje, a south-eastern Yoruba dialect, with a view to providing a formal account that reveals the native speaker’s intuition of their structure.

The study employed McCarthy’s Prosodic Morphological theory and Chomsky’s Minimalist Program as its theoretical framework incorporating phonology and syntax in the morphology of pronoun. Data were generated from the common use of personal pronouns among the Ilàje native speakers from Ayetoro . Ayétòrò does not only have speakers with a high degree of dialect loyalty but does also have native speakers drawn all over Ilàje land in fair representation.

The phonological properties of the pronoun were analysed using autosegmental conventions while its morphosyntactic properties were analysed using the feature-checking approach of the Minimalist Program. The pronouns usually display their Phonetic Form (PF) realisations rather than their basic forms. To reconstruct the basic form, the analysis split each pronoun from its merger with any other syntactic element (such as splitting [èmi] ( from [ó], a Subject High Tone (SHT) segment, in the reconstruction of [mo] ‘I’). In the subject position, the deletion of òghun leaves behind the SHT [ó]. This SHT element is usually misconstrued as the subject pronoun; however, this implies that [ó] ‘he/she/iť comes from [òghun] + [ó]. In the object position, the PF of òghun becomes an extra tone marked on the verb, making [mà] ‘know’ + [òghun] to become [màà] ‘know him/her/iť. The native speakers’ retention of the meaning of [òghun] after being deleted in the PF revealed a theoretical conception of the pro drop hypothesis, although Yoruba is never considered a pro drop language. Use of àghan ‘they’ with a singular proper noun also revealed that àghan does not really pluralise a noun, but instead, it pluralises a larger nominal domain called

Determiner Phrase (DP). Àghan Adé actually means ‘Ade and others' rather than ‘some Ade (in plural) Therefore, the pronoun is not really representing the noun alone, but the DP which contains the noun. As a product of the interaction among phonology, morphology and syntax in the basic clause, three major forms of the pronoun eventually emerged: the merged, the covert and the independent. The form of a pronoun, therefore, depends largely on the morphosyntactic features regulating its syntactic distribution.

The study, as an extension of the on-going investigation on Yoruba pronouns, presented a nonlinear morphosyntactic account that formally reproduces the linguistic intuition of the native speakers of Yoruba-Ilàje. On the previous generalisations made concerning Yoruba pronouns, this study provided validations as well as revisions where necessary. This, in essence, ensures that those generalisations accommodate the linguistic perspective of Ilàje dialect speakers before being considered the common linguistic heritage of the entire Yoruba native speakers.

Key words: Yoruba-Ilàje, Pronoun, Determiner Phrase, Pro drop, Morphosyntax

Word count: 467


1.1 Ìlàje: the dialect, the region and the people

Ìlàje is one of the dialects classified as South -eastern Yoruba (SEY) dialects in Awobuluyi (1998). The SEY dialects include Ondo, OwO, Aó, Ikàlè, Ìjèbù and Ìjó-Apoì. The last three on the list are immediate neighbours of Ilaje.

Ìlàje is spoken in Ìlàje Local Government1 on the southern part of Ondo State. With the Atlantic Ocean in the south, Ìlàje Local Government has a shoreline covering about 180km, thereby making Ondo State, a state with the longest coastline in Nigeria. In terms of its landmass, the Local Government having over forty towns within one thousand, three hundred and eighteen kilometres square (1,318 km2), is among the largest Local Governments in Ondo State. It is also one of the most populated in the state, with a population figure of two hundred and ninety thousand six hundred and fifteen (290,615) according to the 2006 National Population Census.

In terms of mineral resources, the area is still one of Nigeria’s crude oil and bitumen reservoirs. Fishing, marine transport business, and trading (especially in fish and marine products) are the major occupations in the area. Ìgbókòdà, the Local Government’s headquarters, is a large fishing terminal. Ayétòrò, Ìgbókòdà, Ori-Òkè Ìwàmimo and a few other towns engage in boat building. Mat weaving is another noble craft in the entire Local Government.

Historically, the Ilaje traced their origin to Ile -Ife where their ancestor , Òrómàken, was once a prince. It was said that Oromaken left Ile -Ife with some sympathizers when he was denied access to the throne. They later migrated southward and finally settled at Ugbò a name derived from an Ilaje expression ubo èyi a gbè gbO meaning: ‘the place where we stopped’. Based on the present traditional political institutions, the region is grouped into eight kingdoms, namely: Màhinland under His Royal Majesty Amàpetu of Màhin, Ugbòland under His Royal Majesty Ohigbo of Ugbò Kingdom, Ahérìland under the Maporure and Etìkànland under the Onikàn of Ètìkàn, Ódónláland under the Alagho of Odonlá, Obenlaland under the Ohibo of Obenla , Òbè Ògbàròland under the O doka of Obe O gbàrò, Ìgbókòdà under the Ohi of Igbókòdà and Igbó-egunrín under the Odede of Igbo -egunrín.

1.2 Objectives of the study

The major objective of this study is to provide a vivid account of the morphosyntax of Ilàje pronouns. The study is, therefore, planned to explore the interaction of the three basic levels of analysis in structural linguistics: phonology, morphology and syntax in determining the forms of the pronoun.

The study is also undertaken in order to provide validations of the claims made in the previous analysis of Yoruba pronouns using data from Ilaje , one of the less-studied regional dialects2. It is, therefore, meant to provide important information that can fill research gaps in the literature.

1.3 Literature review

Ilàje is one of the less-studied dialects of Yoruba. Although Ilàje has been cited in other studies (Omamor, 1976; Akinkugbe, 19783; Awobuluyi, 1998), it has not really been given much attention in a serious synchronic analysis of this kind. The pronoun, on the other hand, has been widely discussed in Yoruba studies, though being a close group category. See Adesuyan (1991, 2005, 2008), Adewole (1992), Awobuluyi (1992, 2001a, 2001b, 2004), Ajongolo (2005) and Taiwo (2007). Generally, on the analysis of the pronoun in the literature, three major areas cannot be overlooked. They are briefly discussed below.

1.3.1 Views on the classification of Yoruba pronouns

Merely on the classification of Yoruba pronouns in the pedagogical literature, two views are adopted by most scholars. The first view classifies Yoruba pronouns into two4broad groups: long and short categories (Awobuluyi, 1958; 1992; Adesuyan 1991, 2008 and Taiwo, 2007).

The second view comes from Bamgbose (1967) where the long pronouns, in traditional classification, are rather classified as prenominate5. In Bamgbose’s view, the pronominals are not pronouns at all but grammatical nouns. Bamgbose (1967) takes the short pronoun as the true pronoun. This implies that the nominal category will have at least two subcategories: the noun and the pronominal (the long pronoun).

1.3.2 Views on the derivation of Yoruba pronouns

The issue on derivation bothers on what should be morphologically considered the basic among the various forms of the pronoun6. The traditional view holds that the short pronouns are derived from their long counterparts. Therefore, the long pronouns are to be considered basic while their short counterparts are derived (Stahlke, 1974; Awobuluyi, 1992).

On the other hand, there is a contrary view which regards the short pronouns as the basic, while long pronouns are derived from their short counterparts through affixation (Awobuluyi, 2001a,b, 2008; Olumuyiwa, 2006).

1.3.3 Views on the forms of the pronoun

On the perspective of form, the following have been said of Yoruba pronouns. First, the short pronouns have also been called pronominal clitics (Akinlabi, 1985:177). Stahlke (1974) claims that short pronouns are prefixes derived through subject-verb agreement. Manfredi (1995:97) shares this view.

Another issue on the form of the pronoun is the covert proposal for the third-person singular pronoun. The general observation on the use of null7 subject form of the third-person singular pronoun in a negative clause has provoked a broader generalisation that the third- person singular subject pronoun is covert in all environments (Stahlke, 1974 and Adesuyan8, 1991).

In addition to this, Awobuluyi (1992:pp;2001app) claim that the pronoun has an underlying form un rather than being considered ‘morphologically zero’ by Stahlke. He also argues that ó (which is usually glossed he, she, or it) is not the actual form of the pronoun. While the covert un proposal9 claims that a linguistic rule prevents un from being overt in Standard Yoruba and some of the regional dialects, it fails to account for how10 the native speakers recover the silent pronoun despite its covert nature.

Since the covert analysis of the third-Person singular pronoun has affected the traditional gloss of ó as ‘he/she/it’, it becomes necessary to determine the morphological structure of ó. If ó is not a pronoun, what is it then? Some studies in Yoruba dialects reveal that the morpheme ó is the same as the subject high tone (SHT) syllable element (Stahlke, 1974; Ajongolo, 2005; Olumuyiwa, 2006; and Awobuluyi, 2008).

The major controversy on the subject high tone element (henceforth SHT) lies on its syntactic function in syntax. The same element has been identified with different names at different times. In Awobuluyi (1975), this morpheme is analysed as having the underlying form í which functions as a non-future tense marker. Another term, subject concord marker (SCM), is adopted for the same element in Bamgbose (1980). The SCM analysis claims that the element is the pronominalisation of the subject it co-occurs with. In this way, it is

like a typical agreement marker placed between the verb and its subject. Even where this item is not apparently called concord marker in Akinlabi (1985), the same idea is implied by calling the SHT syllable an inflection tone. Similarly, this SHT syllable is labelled inflection or infl11 in Awoyale (1995) where the Yoruba sentence is analysed as an inflection phrase (IP). Here the SHT is considered the functional head of the IP.

In Ajongolo (2005)12, the SHT is realised as ó in Ào dialect where it is called agree. Agree in this sense does not necessarily involve overt morphological agreement marking for number and person. The minimalist framework used in Ajongolo (2005) requires that Agree, a functional head, must project either overtly or covertly in the process involved in sentence derivation. Awobuluyi (2001b), however, has some reservations on the use of agree13 as the appropriate term for this element. While Awobuluyi (2001b) agrees that this ó should no longer be called a pronoun, he however believes the item will be more appropriate identified as a preverb.

1.4 Justification of the study

The various views cited in the review above reveal the need to have an in-depth study of the pronoun as a category in Yoruba. The works cited display some limitations either because they are not mainly based on the study of pronouns or because their analytical tools are restricted to a particular level of analysis being purely syntactic or phonological.

None of these works actually maintains an unbiased balance on phonology, morphology and syntax in their approach to the structure of the pronoun. An adequate approach to the study of pronouns should in fact involve phonology (especially on issues dealing with tone change), morphology (in terms of the morphological structure of the pronouns) and syntax (issues relating to the distribution of the various pronouns in the clause).

This study is therefore motivated by the need to provide formal accounts on the above issues. It provides an interface account of the pronouns. The non-concatenative approach addresses the phonology-morphology interface especially in analysing grammatical tones. The Minimalist feature-based syntax provides another interface account between morphology and syntax. The study being able to integrate phonology, morphology and syntax has gone a step ahead of the previous attempts on the analysis of Yoruba pronouns.

1.5 Scope of the study

The analysis is restricted to the use of the pronouns traditionally classified as personal pronouns in simple affirmative clauses, simple negative clauses and simple subjunctive clauses mainly using monosyllabic verbs in their predicates. This ensures that a definite focus is maintained on pronoun through out the study.

1.6 Theoretical Frameworks

Minimalist Program (MP) is the theoretical framework used in the syntactic analysis of this study. MP is the current development in the pursuit of Universal Grammar (UG) within the Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG) tradition. However, MP has its phonological component at the phonetic form (PF) interface which may require a phonological account. Hence the prosodic morphological theory, a nonlinear morphological approach, is used in the analysis of the phonological data in the PF interface.

1.7 Source of data and the methods of analysis

The data used were from Ilàje spoken inAyétòrò and neighbouring towns. The data are analysed with two types of analytical tools. The first part of the analysis employs a nonlinear method of analysis, integrating phonological and morphological aspects in the structure of the pronoun. The second part of the analysis accounts for the morphosyntactic features of the pronoun within the Minimalist framework.

1.8 The representation of ìlàje sounds in the study

Since Ilàje is not yet codified, it is necessary to introduce the convention employed in codifying the data14 in this study, especially in a situation where the convention differs from what obtains in Standard Yoruba. The consonant and vowel sounds15 are thus given below.

Fig. 1.1 Ìlàje sounds and their writing convention in the study

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Fig. 1.2 Ìlàje phonetic consonant chart

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Fig. 1.3 Ìlàje phonetic vowel charts (oral and nasalised vowels)

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1.9 Summary

The chapter has provided some crucial background information needed in the study. The literature has revealed a gap that requires a study of the kind undertaken in this research work. The writing convention employed in the study is also briefly discussed so that the entire analysis will be thoroughly understood.


This chapter covers the theoretical background of the study. There are four major sections in the chapter. The first section introduces the model developed for the study. The second section introduces the Minimalist framework stating its mode of operation, its phrase makers, its concept of the pro drop operation, and its feature-driven morphosyntactic operations. The third aspect discusses the Prosodic Morphology framework, beginning from its autosegmental concepts leading to the morpheme tier hypothesis. The fourth aspect provides more information on the interface model which integrates ideas from Minimalist Program and Prosodic Morphology.

2.1 Syntax-phonology interface modelling of the nonlinear morphology

Although nonlinear analysis was developed from Autosegmental Phonology (Goldsmith, 1976) and later applied in Prosodic Morphology (McCarthy, 1981; Marantz, 1982), it is necessary to note that Autosegmental Theory in its initial form already permits interface analysis involving phonology, morphology and syntax. A model of this kind of analysis found in Goldsmith (1976) 16 is used in analysing clitics in Igbo. This is reproduced in (1) below.

1(a) ó gbù égbú

he kill leopard

‘lest he kills leopard’

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Adapted from Goldsmith (1976:49)

The upper level of the structure represents syntactic analysis. Here S refers to sentence, VP refers to verb phrase, and N refers to noun phrase. The middle level provides morphological analysis (prefix, stem and suffix). The phonological analysis comes at the bottom of the analysis showing the melody tier and the tone tier. The use of the model given above reveals the possibility of combining syntax, morphology and phonology in a single analysis to produce a linguistic interface.

2.2 The basic assumptions of the Minimalist framework

The Minimalist Program is the recent development in the transformational generative grammar (Ouhalla, 1994; Chomsky, 1995; Webelhuth, 1995). It has a major focus of employing economy principles that reduce some of the tasks in the Government and Binding model.

There are some basic assumptions in the Minimalist Program (MP) which cover the following: the genetic nature of language, the language faculty, syntactic derivations and language variation. The language faculty is a manifestation of two important linguistic states of development: the initial state (SO) and the attained state (SL). The theory of the initial state is called Universal Grammar (UG); the theory of the attained state (SL) is simply called grammar. The first state (So) is genetically about human endowment regardless of the language(s) one can speak. This is the concept earlier recognized as Linguistic Acquisition Device (LAD) in the literature. However the second state SL is the specific grammar associated with a particular language be it Hausa , Ijo, Igbo, Isekiri, English or Yoruba. For one to acquire any of the specific grammars (the SL), one should have been endowed with SO first. Hence language acquisition is a journey from the SO to the SL.

The language faculty has at least two components: the cognitive and the performance components. The cognitive component in MP comprises the lexicon, a computational system (CHL) and a phonological component (PHON). The performance component comprises an articulatory-perceptional (A-P) system and a conceptual-intentional (C-I) system respectively. The SD from the cognitive component17 must have both sound and meaning representations say n and y respectively which must be interpretable at both PF and LF.

Fig. 2.1 Major components of the language faculty in the minimalist framework

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

In Minimalist Program, language variation is considered a property of the lexicon; therefore, all syntactic operations can be reduced to the kind of formal features found in the lexical items involved in the derivation. Although morphology18 is not usually the focus of transformational generative grammar, the computational apparatus (CHL)19 in the Minimalist framework relies on the lexicon in deriving syntactic structures. The lexicon therefore determines syntactic operations because the formal features (morphosyntactic features) found in the lexical items can trigger syntactic derivations. The syntactic structure of a language therefore depends largely on the formal features in her lexical properties. The minimalist framework, in this way, admits the crucial role that morphology has to play in syntactic derivations despite the fact that Minimalist Program has little to say about morphology.

Each lexical element is a bundle of features. These are phonological features such as [+back] [+cor] [-ATR]; semantic features i.e. [+HUMAN], [+MALE]; and morphosyntactic features20 (formal features) i.e. [+PAST], [3SG] [+ACC]. Generally, formal features are classified into two groups interpretable and uninterpretable. The feature that is interpretable in one item may be uninterpretable in the other. The following features are interpretable in English pronouns.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

With this parameter, the following English pronouns can be described thus:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

The alpha symbol a21 used in the gender feature specification in 2(c) above represents an unknown value. This signifies that the feature concerned is not interpretable, although it is present in the lexical property of the pronoun.

2.3 Functional analysis of the pronoun as a determiner22

Abney (1987) proposes that the noun is a member of a higher functional category called the Determiner Phrase (DP). The DP hypothesis requires that the determiner is the head of the nominal phrase making the determiner a lexical instantiation of D. The items occupying the D (head of DP) are primarily the traditional determiners such as articles, possessives and demonstratives. Abney (1987) equates the traditional NP with DP23 on the basis that the determiner selects the projection of N and not vice versa. In this perspective, the determiner is no longer considered as a modifier of the noun (the supposed head of a Noun Phrase). Rather, it is the noun that will function as a complement of the determiner in the derivation of the DP. Hence, traditional noun phrases are analysed as determiner phrases.24 Typical DP structures of English and Yoruba are shown below in (3).

3(a) DP

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Awoyale (1995:122)

In the Yoruba DP analysis given in Awoyale’s (1995), three determiners are listed. These are the demonstrative: yií, the existential non-definite article kan and the definite article náá25 . The pronoun is not listed at all. This seems to suggest that Yoruba DP is head last. However, the use of the long pronoun along with these traditional determiners shows that the pronoun is very important in the DP structure of the language as shown in the Ilaje data below..



Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

‘certain people or things’


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

‘certain type of these clothes’


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

‘these clothes in particular’

Generally, determiner is a functional term used to label a modifier that functions as a specifier in a noun phrase. However, in the present study the concept includes the pronouns. Pronouns are incorporated into the DP analysis from the premise that determiners behave like nouns when they are not used as modifiers. Abney (1987) classifies the pronoun26 as an ‘intransitive’ determiner. Hence, a DP structure may comprise a personal pronoun27 having a noun in apposition as seen in (5) below.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

In a situation where the pronoun is used without any noun comprise the D alone. Thus the pronoun will be labelled D


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

In line with this analysis, the category label of the pronouns in subject and object positions are given as Ds in the Tense Phrase (TP) as shown in (7) below.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Having the pronoun labelled D, the morphosyntactic representation of the English pronouns in (7) above incorporates the D label into the analysis in (8) below.


1 This was created out of the defunct Ìlàje/Ese-Odo Local Government Area on October 1, 1996.

2 Languages that do not have written document on their early forms usually depend on their regional dialects to generate data for historical linguistics and diachronic analysis. This is the fate of Yoruboid where Ìlàje happens to be one of the dialects that preserve its linguistic heritage.

3 The comparative analysis in Akinkugbe (1978) reveals that Ìlaje with some South-eastern dialects preserves some of the linguistic features of the Yoruboid which have been lost in the Standard Yoruba. This implies that Ìlàje is likely to be closer to the Yoruboid than the Standard Yoruba.

4 These are also known as independent pronouns and dependent pronouns respectively (Yusuf, 1998).

5 Bamgbose (1967:11) reads: a pronominal is a noun which resembles a pronoun by having a system of number and of person. There are six of them: Singular Plural Èmi “Ì” àwa “we” Ìwo “you” (sg) ènyin “you” (pl.) Òun “he/she/it” àwon “they”

6 On the derivational grounds, there are some controversies on the form of the pronoun which some scholars normally avoid in syntax in other to provide a consistent analysis (Taiwo, 2007).

7 Stahlke (1974:172, 175) writes: ‘the third singular is segmentally zero in the negative... ’ and goes further to conclude: ‘thus the third person singular form of the subject pronoun must be considered morphologically zero, not only in the negative and future where this conclusion is obvious, but also in those paradigms in which the vowel o and a high tone are found’.

8 This study affirms the covert representation in Ondo dialect.

9 This is not the official name of the proposal. The proponents may not even be aware of this term. It is used here to aid quick reference to the same view held in the cited literature (Awobuluyi, 2001a) on the third-person singular pronoun.

10 This is an important question left for further studies to answer. This will definitely require a deeper study of the pronoun category in the regional dialects.

11 This is pronounced [infalj. Awoyale’s (1995) analysis is done within the framework of Govern ment and Binding Theory (Principle and Parameter Theory) of transformational generative grammar.

12 The same scholar in another work, Taiwo (2004), provides from the Alo dialect of Yoruba the following data where the high-toned element ó is still glossed as agr.

‘My mother backed you’

13 The term is described as inadequate since it does not really represent the morphological number-person concord expected between a verb and its subject as obtainable in languages with such attributes. Even when ó is taken as a resumptive anaphor of a focused (topicalised) subject, it will still lack such agreement.

14 The charts in figures 1.2 and 1.3 are provided just to show the number of the vowels and their rough description in a standard IPA chart.

15 This is not a strict phonological analysis; hence, it is not specifically indicated whether a certain sound is restricted to a particular position in a word.

16 This particular model is designed to analyse subject cliticization in Igbo. The upper level of the multi tierstructure represents syntactic analysis of the structure. Here S refers to sentence, VP refers to verb phrase, and Nrefers to noun phrase. The middle level provides morphological analysis. The verb is thus split into the prefix,stem and suffix template in order to show that the pronoun, after becoming a clitic, is affixed to the verb. Thephonological analysis comes at the bottom of the analysis. This level includes the melody tier and the tone tier.

17 An I-language will be developed when the cognitive component is exposed to a particular language (a primarylinguistic data (PLD)). This is a generative rule that can generate an infinite set of Structural Descriptions(SDs).

18 This is a general feature of the earlier models of Chomskian transformational generative grammar whereemphasis is given to syntax and phonology and less is said on morphology.

19 This symbolizes human language computation apparatus.

20 This study will focus on the morphosyntactic features which are also known as formal features because theyare necessary in syntactic computations.

21 The same symbol can be used to represent the unknown value of any other feature i.e. case or number.

22 The determiner category is not new in Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG). It traditionallycomprises articles, possessives and demonstratives. The similarities between these traditional determiners andthe pronoun (both morphologically and syntactically) have lent more support to the consideration of pronouns asdeterminers. See Abney (1987), Bhatt, Löbel and Schmidt (1989) and Radford (1997).

23 This is rendered DetP in Abney (1987).

24 Here D, N, DP and NP represent determiner, noun, determiner phrase and noun phrase respectively.

25 There is no náà in Ìlàje ,̣ although yìí and kàn exist.

26 Some restrictions are noted in Abney (1987). These include the type of noun complement required by thepronoun heading a DP. Using the long pronoun, parallel structures are given in Ìlàje ̣here.(a) I Claudius/*idiot emi *Adé/ emi *òḍ è ̣(b) we tradesmen/ *idiots àwa olíìsòwò/ òḍ è ̣(c) you *sailor/idiot ùwọ ọlóḳ ò ̣ /òḍ è ̣(d) you idiots/ sailors aghan olıı́ s̀ òwò / òḍ è ̣(2pl)(e) *he tradesman/idiot oghun *olíìsòwò/ *òḍ è ̣(f) *they sailors/ idiots aghan oḷ óḳ ò ̣ /òḍ è ̣(3pl)

27 Based on Bamgbose’s (1967) analysis of Yoruba nominal group, this can be called pronominal in Yorubarather than a pronoun. See also Adewole (1992). The short pronouns, which are actually regarded as pronouns inBamgbose’s view, cannot take any noun complement. However, the present study uses the term long pronounsfor the same items Bamgbose (1967) identifies as pronominals. Although the short pronouns cannot take anynoun complement it due to the fact that they are merged with other items (i.e. neg), hence no complement can bethus added to them after such merger. The long pronouns, though called pronominals above, are still analysed aspronouns in this study. So the DP analysis in (5) is relevant here.

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The Morphosyntax of Pronouns in the Ìlàjẹ Dialect of Yorùbá
University of Ibadan
African Linguistics
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morphosyntax, pronouns, dialect, yorùbá
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Akintoye Japhet (Author), 2012, The Morphosyntax of Pronouns in the Ìlàjẹ Dialect of Yorùbá, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • Mr Akintoye Japhet on 8/20/2013

    This work is one of those attempts in African Linguistics to revisited the Languages we think we have thoroughly studied. Dialects, in deed, provide some linguistic information needed for a deeper study of the standard variety of any language. Ìlàjẹ is one those dialects that serve this purpose in Yorùbá.

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Title: The Morphosyntax of Pronouns in the Ìlàjẹ Dialect of Yorùbá

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