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date: 26 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of the derivational processes involving the major lexical categories (nouns and verbs) found in the Niger-Congo languages that have relatively well maintained subsystems whose reconstruction is crucial for the hypothesis of a genetic relationship between the language families grouped in the Niger-Congo phylum: noun classification and verb extensions. Typical Niger-Congo derivational systems are characterized by the marginality of noun-to-verb derivation. Verb-to-verb derivation typically involves suffixes that may increase the valency, decrease the valency, (re )orient the action, or introduce aspectual specification. One striking characteristic of noun-to-noun derivation in typical Niger-Congo languages is that noun class systems tend to blur the traditional inflection vs. derivation distinction, since in addition to number, class alternations express meanings more commonly expressed by derivational morphology. Verb-to-noun derivation typically involves the addition of derivational suffixes and the addition of class morphology manifesting the assignment of the derived noun to a particular class.

Keywords: Niger-Congo, derivation, suffixation, noun class systems, verb extensions, deverbal nouns

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