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The morphology and phonology of the nominal domain in Tagbana

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Yranahan Traoré

The book investigates the morphology and phonology of the nominal domain in Tagbana of the Senufo group of Côte d’Ivoire. The nominal domain is the locus of a phenomenon called ‘alliterative concord’, a special kind of concord expressed by consonantal alliteration. All dependent morphemes of a head noun share articulatory features, which are realized on the onset of the first syllable of each morpheme. In this way, the articulatory features signal the class of the dependent morphemes. This volume also discusses the segment inventory and the syllable structure and describes the complex noun operations in the nominal domain. Distributed Morphology and Optimal Theory form the theoretical background of the empirical facts.

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4 Nominal classes and the concord system in Fròʔò

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4.1 Nominal classes

The term ‘nominal class’ refers to the grouping of nouns according to the properties that they have in common. Corbett (1991) presents at least three strategies to group nouns into nominal categories: 1) semantic gender assignment according to similarities in their meaning, 2) morphological gender assignment, and 3) phonological gender assignment.8

4.1.1 Semantic assignment of gender

Semantic gender assignment consists in grouping nouns into classes according to their similarities in meaning.

Corbett defines this process of assignment as a system in which the meaning of a noun determines its gender and in which, equally, given the gender of a noun we can infer something about its meaning. In other words, the meaning of the noun is sufficient to determine the class of the noun; see Corbett (1991:16). He demonstrates this with the noun house in Tamil, which is neuter because it does not denote a human for example. Some criteria on which semantic systems are based are animates, which are distinguished from inanimates, human as opposed to non-human, male as opposed to female, and so on. See also Leakey (1959) for noun categorization according to semantic considerations.

4.1.2 Morphological assignment of gender

Morphological gender assignment works in a different way. First, it always has a semantic foundation. One could say there is no purely morphological system; the morphological rules assign the nouns in the semantic residue to genders, that is, they are...

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