High-Toned Vowel Prefix in Yorùbá

  • Bisoye Eleshin Institute of African & Diaspora Studies University of Lagos, Nigeria
Keywords: Prefix, High-toned vowel Prefix, Derivation, Gerund, Augmentation


In the traditional analysis of Standard Yorùbá prefixes, high-toned vowels and the vowel u are not eligible to be used as prefixes. There have been various explanations to these phenomenon, especially phonological analysis that justifies the exclusion of these two segments from the list of possible prefixes in the language. In their recent works on Yorùbá prefixes, Awobuluyi (2008) and Ilori (2010) claim that consonants in Yorùbá can be used as prefixes to derive gerunds. This paper   argues against these two claims and submit that there actually exists a high-toned vowel prefix, í-, in Yorùbá, and that the nouns it derives are gerunds. It employs the theoretical models of Fixed Segmentism (Alderete, Beckman, Benua, Gnanadesikan, McCarthy, Urbanczyk, 1999; Keane, 2006) and Augmentative Morphology (Halle & Marantz, 1994; Davis & Tsujimura, 2014) to justify the claim that high-toned vowel prefix í- is a fixed segment with a gerundive feature in the language. However, due to some language internal constraint which does not allow for high-toned vowels to begin v-initial lexical items, such derivations are blocked. The need for augmentation of the ill-formed derivation by copying the initial consonant of the root which is then subsequently moved to the initial position of the derived word, therefore, arises to repair the seeming ill-formedness in the derivation.