Aspect in Yoruba and Nigerian English


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Aspect in Yoruba and Nigerian English
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xii, 213 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Àjàní, Timothy Tèmilọlá
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Linguistics thesis, Ph.D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Linguistics -- UF   ( lcsh )
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2001.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 198-210).
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Also available online.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Timothy Temilola Ajani.
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University of Florida
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Full Text





This work is dedicated to the loving memory of:.

Jim Sharp, Jr.:

From the heavenly grandstands

I know you wear a proud grin at the conclusion of this work; and

My late father, Jacob Aj~ni,

who taught me how to read and write YorutbA at home

while living in a foreign country; And to

My mother, Rebecca M~tdand~la Ajanf.

who has endured many years of my absence from home

while I pursued my education from one institution to another and

from one nation to another.


Successful completion of any exercise usually reflects the efforts of more than one individual. This dissertation would never have been written without the help, collaboration, encouragement, prayers and goodwill of a host of people, both here in the United States and back home in Nigeria.

Foremost, my sincere gratitude goes to the chairperson of my doctoral committee, Professor. M.J. Hardman who taught me how to look at language critically and through unbiased lenses, to question assumptions and previously held opinions, in the spirit of humility. I appreciate her patience and thoroughness, especially during the initial stages of this study. I appreciate her kindness, gentleness and sense of humor. I thank her for adopting me and my young family into her own family. My first son fondly calls her "grandma." Working with her one-on-one has been a real privilege. I have benefitted immensely from her excellent linguistic insights and intuitions.

I also express my sincere gratitude to the other members of my

committee. I have learnt much about language and linguistics from them. I worked closely with these committee members: Professor Jean Casagrande, Dr. Diana Boxer, Dr. Peter Schmidt, and Professor Marie Nelson. Although Professor Marie Nelson was the last to formally join the committee, she was already a voluntary adjunct member. She willingly stepped in when Professor glabiyi Yai left the University to take a permanent assignment as representative for his country at UNESCO.


Drs. Casagrande and Yai were instrumental in bringing me to this University, after I had completed my DEA (M. Phil. equivalent) in Paris, France. When he was Chair of the Department of African and Asian Languages and Literatures (AALL), Dr. Yai offered me an open-ended teaching assistantship at the AALL during the Spring and Fall semesters, and occasionally during the summer. Dr. Casagrande, then director of the Program in Linguistics (PIL) and the English Language Institute (ELI), offered me summer assistantships at the ELI during my first two years here. I taught Yoruba for several years under the supervision of Dr. Yai, until he left for France two years ago. I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) at the ELlunder the leadership of Dr. Casagrande and later, Dr. Boxer. My interest in and love for Sociolinguistics really blossomed while I was a student in Dr. Boxer's Sociolinguistics and Second Language Acquisition (SLA) classes.

I am deeply indebted to Dr. Marie Nelson, who voluntarily offered to read through all of my manuscripts, offering fresh insights, and making useful comments and corrections.At the time, she was busy discharging her many duties as director of the PIL. Dr. Peter Schmidt, Director of the Center for African Studies, gave me a summer dissertation grant to do research in Nigeria, and I thank him very much. I give many thanks go to Dr. Ann WyattBrown, who willingly offered me her personal laptop computer to use for as along as I needed it, when I began my studies here in Gainesville. It was also she who encouraged me to publish my first article in FOCUS on Linguistics, the University of Florida working papers in Linguistics.

My experience at the University of Florida would have been very

different without the support of friends, colleagues, students and family, here, in the United States, back home in Nigeria, and in other places. I am very grateful for all the encouragement, financial support, and prayer support I


have received over many years from groups and individuals alike: members of the IGS Fellowship in Ibadm, Nigeria, Living Faith Fellowship in Gainesville and my home group at The Rock of Gainesville, as well as the following individuals: Dr. Michael and Alanna Boutin, the late Jim Sharp, Jr., who paid for my first personal computer and printer with which this dissertation was written; the Flad6s, Tom and Sharon Stebbins, Bill and Fay Alexander, Rob and Sheryl Norton, Key and Ruth Ann Powell, Nellie Otero, Beth Alexander, the late C.R., and Evelyn Smith, my "big sister", Marylyn Perazzini and "little brother", Derek Tirado; Ms. Agnes Leslie; Beve Gunderson, Rena Smith, Kim Hewitt, Rosie Piedra Hall, Jeanette Flanders and Ashley Hicks; Troy and Renee Clark, Carol Lauriault, and the entire staff of the CAS. Outside of Florida, many thanks go to my dear friends, Drs. Austin and Udy Inyang of Oklahoma; my "little sisters" F!yi and Folhk(, both of the United Kingdom; and my longtime friends, Drs. George and Omolade M6 of France.

Finally, my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation go to my family, both immediate and extended, especially my siblings, my late father, and my aging mother, Rebecca MAdand6lA, who has seen very little of me since I began my long journey in academia; and lastly, my dear wife and life companion, ClAjumoko OlfiinmilAyo and our two precious sons, AyoxqLA Ul(riolitwa and lbiLkfin OltbisolA, who have weathered the long summers and winters with me here in Gainesville, with a lot of understanding, patience and equanimity. To you all I say o. V ki dfr6ti; a 6 k6 &r6 oko d61( o. Amin."




ACKNOW LEDGMENTS ................................................................................................. iii

KEY TO SYM BOLS AND ABBREVIATIONS .......................................................... ix

ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................................... xi


1. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 1
1. 1 The Yoritbii People ............................................................................................. 1
1.2 The Yoriib.A Language ....................................................................................... 9
1.2.1 Phonology ............................................................................................... 12
1.2.2 Morphology ............................................................................................ 15
1.2.3 Syntax ...................................................................................................... 16
1.3 The Dynamics of YoritbA and English in Nigeria ...................................... 21

2. ASPECT IN YORUBA ................................................................................................ 29

2.1 The Nature of the Verb Phrase (VP) in YorWA .......................................... 42
2.2.1 The Incompletive Aspect ...................................................................... 44
2.2.2 The Relational Aspect ............................................................................ 45
.2.2.3 The Habitual + Post-verbal Time Marker ........ ; ................................... 45
2.2.4 The Intentional + Post-verbal Time Marker ..................................... 46
2.2.5 Completive Aspect + Pre-verbal Time Marker (Focus) ................... 46
2.2.6 The Anticipative + Pre-verbal Time Marker (Focus) ...................... 46
2.2.7 The Completive Aspect ......................................................................... 47
2.3 Aspect in YoritbA .............................................................................................. 47
2.3.1 Aspect Constraints on Person Marking and Pronoun Selection ... 48 Intentional + regular pronoun ................................................ 51 Intentional + emphatic pronoun ........................................ o.o.. 51 Completive aspect + regular pronoun ..................................... 53 Completive aspect + emphatic pronoun ............................... 53 Relational aspect + regular pronoun ..................................... 54

vi Relational aspect + emphatic pronoun ................................. 54 Habitual Aspect + regular pronoun ....................................... 54 Habitual Aspect + em phatic pronoun .................................... 55 Antecedent completion + regular pronoun .......................... 55 Antecedent completion + emphatic pronoun ....................... 56
2.3.2 The Sim ple Aspect Series ....................................................................... 56 The Com pletive Aspect (Unm arked) ....................................... 56 The Incom pletive Aspect ......................................................... 58 The Relational Aspect ................................................................ 59 The Irrealis Aspects .................................................................. 59 The anticipative aspect ............ oft ............................. 60 The intentional aspect ............................................. 61
2.3.3 The Com plex Aspect Series .................................................................... 63 Backgrounder ............................................................................. 64 Expective ..................................................................................... 65 Inceptive ..................................................................................... 66 M anifestive ................................................................................. 68 Antecedent Com pletion ............................................................. 68 Relevant-Inceptive .................................................................... 70 Habitual ....................................................................................... 71 Two Major Categories of the Complex Aspects ...................... 72 Those involving the relational aspect .................. 73 Those not involving the relational ....................... 78
2.4 Aspect M arkers in Context ................................................................................ 80
2.4.1 Com pletive (Unm arked) Aspect ........................................................... 81
2.4.2 Incom pletive Aspect .............................................................................. 81
2.4.3 Relational Aspect .................................................................................... 82
2.4.4 Anticipative Aspect .................................................................................. 82
2.4.5 Intentional Aspect .................................................................................. 82
2.4.6 Relevant-Inceptive Aspect ................................................................... 84
2.4.7 Expective Aspect ..................................................................................... 84
2.4.8 Habitual Aspect ....................................................................................... 84
2.5 Tem poral Relations in Yoruba ....................................................................... 85


3. A SPECT IN N IG ERIA N EN GLISH ..................................................................... 88

3.1 Am os Tfititold: the M an .................................................................................... 93
3.2 Am os Tfidiolt his W orks ................................................................................ 98
3.3 Amos T4diolt his Accomplishments ........................................................... 105
3.4 Aspect in T4titoW s W ritings ......................................................................... 107
3.4.1 The Incom pletive Aspect .................................................................... 112
3.4.2 The Habitual Aspect .............................................................................. 122
3.4.3 The Anticipative Aspect ....................................................................... 125
3.4.4 The Relational Aspect ........................................................................... 128
3.4.5 The Relevant-Inceptive .............................. o ........................................ 130

4. CONCLUSIO N ................. o ............................................ o ........................................... 133

4.1 Sum m ary. .......................................................... o .............................................. 133
4.2 hnplications .................................................................................................... 141

A PPEN D IX .................................................................................................................... 148

REFEREN CES ....................................................... o .......................................................... 198

BIBLIO G RA PH ICA L SKETCH ................................................................................. 211


Explanation of Glossary
ANT(E) COMP antecedent completion aspect
ANTI/ANTICIP anticipative aspect
BACKGRD backgrounder aspect
BAH The Brave African Huntress
BE British English
CLT Communicative Language Teaching
CV consonant vowel
DIREC directional
EL English language
Emp/EMP/EP emphatic pronoun
ESL English as a second language
ESP English for specific purposes
HABIT habitual aspect
HE Hausa English
ICE International Corpus of English
IE Igbo English
INCOM/INCOMP incompletive aspect
INT/INTEN intentional aspect
INTV interrogative verb
LBG My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
1C locative
L1 mother tongue
L2 second language
MANIFEST manifestive aspect
NE Nigerian English
NIEG negator
NP noun phrase
NPE Nigerian Pidgin English
O/Obj/OBJ object
PART particle
PLU/PLUR plural
PP prepositional phrase
PREP preposition
PWD The Palm-Wine Drinkard
RELA/RALAT relational aspect
REL(EV)-INCEP relevant-incpetive aspect
RP regular pronoun
SF&F Science Fiction and Fantasy
SNE Standard Nigerian English
SVC(s) serial verbal construction(s)
SVO subject-verb-object
V- vowel
VP verb phrase
YE Yoruba English


Explanation of Glossary
YL Yoruba language
YSL Yoruba as a second language
YVP Yoruba verb phrase
lpP first person plural
lpS first person singular
2pP second person plural
2pS second person singular
3pP third person plural
3pS third person singular


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


Timothy T!miloml AjAni

May, 2001

Chair Dr. MJ. Hardman
Major Department: Linguistics

Yoruba, has, for the most part, been analyzed by earlier grammarians from the perspective of English, thus leading to an English-oriented analysis of the language. This study presents a strictly aspect-based analysis of Yoritb6 and its application to TfitolA's work and Nigerian English. Twelve identified aspects are subdivided into two main categories comprising five simple and seven complex aspects.

This dissertation makes an original contribution to YoriibA grammar by its presentation of YorubA as an aspect-based language, rather than a tensebased one, as previous analyses have often tended to suggest. A closer look at TfitiLolA's English reveals that many of the idiosyncracies of his language are a result of the unconscious transfer of the aspectual system of his native Yoruba into the English of his writings. What this shows is that in Nigeria, the YorubA language has influenced the way English is written and interpreted. Data from The Palm-Wine Drinkard, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and The Brave African Huntress, three of Amos Ttitiol's earliest novels, were used to demonstrate this important influence on the work of Tdtiioli, a native of Yoriibland who,


in choosing to write in English, also chose not to leave behind many of the features of his first language.

The implications of this study are several. At the disciplinary level, the study affords the opportunity to capture linguistic data as they develop and to provide fresh insights into the internal workings of the YoritM verb phrase in general and aspectual relations in particular. These insights enhance our understanding of the Yoriffi.A language as a linguistic system. The study has implications for the history of the English language. The study also leads to an understanding that language contact is a two-way process. When two languages come into contact, mutual influences at various levels of grammar and usage are inevitable.

At the national and international levels, our understanding of the language of T'dtiLolA's work can affect the way English is taught in nations where English is a second language. Our understanding also can affect the way YoritbA is taught to speakers of English as a first language. The results of this study also have general implications for the theory of second language learning and teaching and for the science of language in general, as it could lead to a better understanding of the role the mother tongue plays in the acquisition of a second language in non-native contexts.



The purpose of this chapter is to provide a brief historical and linguistic background to YoribA--the people and the language--and Nigerian English

(NE). It answers the following pertinent questions: who are the YorftbA? (1.1); what does the Yoritbi language look like? ( 1.2); how did the English language get into Nigeria and Yoritbaland in particular? and finally, how do both languages interact within the linguistic and socio-cultural environment in which they co-exist? (1.3). The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the major themes of subsequent chapters.

1.1 The Yoriibd People

The YoriLb are a group of people whose identity is linked by common origins: a common ancestry to OdiduwA; a common language YoruLbA; and a common historical link to the ancient city of II-If6 as cultural and spiritual headquarters and cradle of the race (cf. Ajani 1998: 12-13). All the groups of people who consider themselves as YoritbA also identify themselves by these three common bonds. Apart from ancestry and language, all YoriubA peoples also share a great similarity in culture and religious background.
Today most of the Yoritbd occupy southwestern Nigeria. Smaller

communities exist in the neighboring republics of Benin and Togo to the west. YoriubAland thus encompasses three different nations, with different modern histories. Benin and Togo, for example, were colonized by the French, while Nigeria was colonized by the British during the colonial period. Thus we find



YorilbA people today who use French as an official language (those in Benin and Togo) while others use English (in Nigeria). There is also a strong Yoruba cultural presence in Sierra-Leone (home of the late Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who laid the foundation for YortibA studies by translating the Bible and John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress into YoribiA and by writing the first dictionary and orthography of the language). Here the descendants of YoritA freed slaves who were resettled after abolition of the obnoxious trade in human beings still bear YorubA names and carry on YortbA culture. The YorbA language made the greatest contribution to the grammar, vocabulary and sound systems of the Krio (Creole) language of Sierra-Leone, the principal lingua franca of this tiny West-African coastal nation (UNESCO 1985). Today, about 25-30 million YorutbA people live in YoriibAland, with probably several million more in the diaspora around the world.

Although OyewiLmi (1997: 29-30) argues that Odiiduwk, ancestor of the YoritbA is represented as female in some accounts, in YorubAi folklore he is generally considered to be the son of O16dnmar!, the Creator and life-giver, the all-knowing, all-powerful and self-existent God who lives in the skies from where he rules over all of creation with the help of the 6risa or lesser gods who also serve as his intermediaries. As for O16dunar!, OyewWm observes that as a god this mythic figure could not have had gender.
According to the legend, it was Oduduwk who created dry land from the huge mass of water after his older brother, ObbtalA failed, through negligence, in the commission given to him by O16d-mar!. It is also believed that OdiKduwv molded the first human shapes out of clay. Furthermore, OdjiduwA's sixteen sons (cf. Oyewunu 1997 for more detailed discussion on the genderization of Yoriba) were sent out to found and to govern the various cities and kingdoms that constitute present YorubAland. So strong and central is the figure of


Oduduwk to the identity of the YoriibA that they fondly refer to themselves as "(to Odiiduw (children, or descendants of Oduduw-). In fact the ancestors of modern day YoritbA people did not always refer to themselves by this name, nor even consider themselves as one people, although they had much in common.

The origin of the name "Yoriibd" itself is still shrouded in obscurity. It is, however, believed to have been conferred on the Yoruba people by their Hausa neighbors to the north who used to refer to the people of the old Oyo Empire as the "Yariba." Europeans then appropriated this name and began to use it to refer to all the speakers of the Yoruba language. The present generalized application is a result, then, of further extension. In fact, for a long time only the Oy6 people were referred to as Yoruba. The other YorubA groups bore their own distinct names (such as Ij sA, Ekiti, EgbA, Ij .bl, etc.) until the language became standardized by missionary-linguists in the nineteenth century, at which point it came to be applied to all of Odtduw's descendants.
Apart from the name Yoruba, Oduduwa's descendants were called by several other names before the current name Yoruba arose. In the past, Europeans called them the "Akfi," a word derived from Yoruba greetings, most of which begin with "E kfi" or "A kui". This label was originally used to describe the freed slaves from Yorubaland who were later resettled in SierraLeone. Their Hausa neighbors to the north still call them by the name "Yorubawa." Once, the Yoruba were also refered to as the "Ey6," a term obviously derived from "Oy6." In the diaspora, enslaved Yorubas were referred to as "Nago" in Brazil and "Lukumi" in Cuba. "Nago" is a derivative of the name of one of the twenty Yoruba groups known as the Anago. "Lukumi" is a word derived from the Yoruba phrase "Olki mi," meaning "My friend."


Lukumi also has become a generic name in Cuba where it has some other variants such as Licomim, Ulkunii and Ulkami.

Although oral history puts the origins of Il(!Ifi at around 8 B.C.,

linguistic and archaeological evidence suggest that the Yoruba emerged near the Niger-Benue confluence some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. From here, it is believed, they migrated to their present location between the eighth and eleventh centuries. Historians tell us that a powerful Yoruba kingdom already existed in Il&IfM by the eighth century: one of the earliest in Africa south of the Sahel region.

The Yoruba are among the most urbanized people in Africa. For

centuries before the arrival of the British colonial administration most Yoruba already lived in well structured urban centers organized around powerful city-states (li) centered around the residence of the oba (ruler). In ancient times, most of these cities were fortresses, with high walls and gates. Yoruba cities always have been among the most populous in Africa. Recent archaeological findings indicate that 0y6-il!, capital of the Yoruba empire of Oyo that flourished between 1000 and 1840 A.D. had a population of over 100,000 people (the largest single population in Africa at that time in history). For a long time, Ibadan, one of the major Yoruba cities, was the largest city in the whole of western Africa. Today, Lagos, another major Yoruba city, with a population of about eight to ten million, remains the second largest in Africa, apart from being the main commercial and economic nerve center of Nigeria and the entire West-African sub-region. It also was the political capital of Nigeria for decades, until very recently when a new capital (Abuja) was founded in the center of the country.

The Yoruba are traditionally an agricultural people, as their

environment in conducive to farming. The Yoruba evidently, have always


lived in large cities. Each city usually is surrounded by an elaborate network of farmlands (oko) around which villages (abfiM) developed. Each citydwelling family generally also had a farm in the village. Although most Yoruba people live in the villages, the city is considered the center of civilization, culture and religion. Each year village dwellers go back to their respective cities for annual religious festivities and social celebrations. Carnivals in Brazil and other places in the Yoruba diaspora probably originated from these annual festivals (Abimbola 1998: 36). The annual Osun Festival of Osogbo has now become an international event that attracts people from all over the world, especially people from the diaspora.

Traditionally, most Yoruba women specialized in commercial activities such as marketing and trading. While the men did most of the farming, the women bought produce from farms and sold it at the markets. They also sold cloths woven by the men as well as tie-dyes made by the women. This middleperson role played by the women generally made them wealthy and financially independent. For this reason, Yoruba women do not fit the usual traditional Western definition of a wife and a mother. Part of the role of a wife and mother among the Yoruba is that of provider, which subsumes economic activity and financial independence.

Although traditionally the Yoruba are agricultural people, today the Yoruba could be found engaged in practically all forms of modem day professions, ranging from education to medicine, arts and science to cuttingedge high-tech jobs in technology and the computer industry. In fact, the first African and black person to win the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature, Wole Soyinka, is Yoruba. Though Soyinka's English is elegant and complex in the usual sense, it is also distinctive in its use of Yoruba structures and discourse features.


The Yoruba also are known around the world for their artwork. Their naturalistic bronze and terra-cotta sculptures are found in museums all over the world, among them the famous If heads. So remarkable were the sculptures produced in Ile-Ife that when the German ethnographer, Leo Frobenius, visited Ile-Ife in 1911, he could not believe what he saw with his eyes and made up stories that they must have been the relics of the lost city of Atlantis. Today, it is believed that these great works of art must have been created by Yoruba sculptors. It is also no longer a hidden fact that some of these great works of art were imitated by some of the great European artists.

The Yoruba are probably best known around the world for their traditional religious belief system based on a pantheon of 6risA (lesser divinities). Yoruba traditional religion consists of a pantheon of two hundred one (or four hundred one, according to other accounts) 6risA. Names of the well-known deities are Ogfn, S.ng6 and IfA or Orinmilk, Other major deities include Osun, Oya and Yemoja, ObAttA or Oris~nl, S6np6nni, EI and Esu. The Yoruba believe that Olodumare, the creator of all 6risA and humans, is too powerful to be worshipped directly by mere mortals. Thus they need the intermediary role of the 6risA, who are considered to be much closer to humans. becomes apparent. The orisa are thus seen as the mediators between Olodumare, the high God and mortals.
The worship of some of these deities was transported across the Atlantic during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 1800s, during which time many Yoruba people were forcefully uprooted to the New World as slaves for plantation owners of European descent. This resulted in a large Yoruba diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbeans, where Yoruba culture and religion is still very much vibrant and active, especially in places like Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as in more recent revivals in the


United States. These enslaved Yoruba took along with them their traditional religious beliefs and married these to Catholic Saints to produce such syncretic belief systems as Santenia (in Cuba and the Caribbeans) and CandomblM (in Brazil). In Cuba, for instance, the enslaved Africans superimposed Catholic saints on Yoruba deities to hide their true religious practices from their brutal slave masters and missionaries. In the United States, it is estimated that more than a million people in the Northeast alone practice some form of Yoruba religion with more than 5,000 stores selling Santeria paraphernalia (Honebrink 1993: 46). Today New York and Washington D.C. remain a vibrant center of Yoruba religious activity. In South Carolina, Oy6tdrnjf Village (Oy6 has revived) stands as a constant reminder of the ongoing Yoruba renaissance in the United States of America.

Although Yoruba religion spread its influences beyond Yorubaland and Africa, the Yoruba also embraced other religions, especially the two major world religions, Christianity and Islam. The Yoruba are tolerant of other religions, opinions, and ideas. Therefore it is not surprising that right now most Yoruba people embrace Christianity and many have converted to Islam. just as new adherents embrace Yoruba religious beliefs, so have the Yoruba themselves been open to new religious ideas from other parts of the world. There is peaceful co-existence among people of different religious persuasions. Often Christian and Muslim Yorubas also practice their family religious traditions, side by side with their adopted religions. Yoruba Muslims often go to church functions with their Christian friends and relatives and vice versa. In fact, I know of a Yoruba couple in Gainesville. The husband is a Catholic and the wife is a Muslim. Each of them still practice their different religions. They have been happily married for more than twenty years now and have four well adapted children. A Yoruba proverb says "Esin-in baba k6


M gbomo IA," meaning the religious beliefs of the father cannot save the children. The wisdom of this proverb, in essence, is that we each must seek our own salvation.

Finally, the Yoruba are also known for their rich and vibrant literary tradition, especially their oral poetry which has attracted literary luminaries from around the world. Yoruba oral literature is rich in proverbs and wise sayings that reflect the values, hopes and aspirations of its people. Much respect is given to old age among the Yoruba because the elderly are believed to be the repositories of wisdom and knowledge. Old age is thus highly revered among the Yoruba. In fact, probably the most important prayer that an older person can say to a younger one is "0 mAa dAgbA dar4gb6" (You shall grow old and be full of years). Since the Yoruba are very religious, prayers play a very important part in day to day communication, activities, and interactions. Probably Yoruba religion and culture are the two most important contributions of the Yoruba to world civilization. Every civilization and culture undergoes changes over time and Yoruba is no exception. Their culture and civilization have undergone changes and modifications over the years, from both internal dynamics and external pressures. Such were the imposition of European rule on Yorubaland during the colonial era and the introduction of both Islam and Christianity at different times of their history. The Yoruba have used all of these challenges and experiences to better their lot and to advance their own civilization, adopting some changes that they consider as progressive while throwing away others that are not viewed in positive light.


1.2 The YoriLbd Language

Yoruba belongs to the Yoruboid group of the Kwa branch of the NigerCongo family of languages, which cuts across most of sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest of the five main language families of Africa. The others are Nilo-Saharan, Afro-Asiatic, Khoisan and Austronesian (mainly in the island nation of Madagascar). About half the population of Africa speak a language belonging to the Niger-Congo family. Other groups in this family include the Atlantic and the Kordofanian group of languages.

Yoruba is demographically and culturally the most important language of the Gulf of Guinea. Spoken by more than 25 million people, it was one of the earliest west African languages to have a written grammar and dictionary. The first known written document in Yoruba appeared in 1819. It was a vocabulary primer containing the numerals 1-10 and was published by the German linguist, Bowdich. A more substantial list of vocabulary appeared some nine years later in 1828 when Hannah Kilhaxn published a collection of vocabularies from thirty African languages while sojourning in Sierra-Leone betvveen 1827 and 1828. This was followed by the first recorded text and dictionary in 1843. The former was a Yoruba translation of Luke 1:35, a sermon text of the Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a priest-linguist working under the aegis of the Church Missionary Society (CMS). The first dictionary was also the work of Bishop Crowther. He also produced the first grammar and vocabulary in 1853 and the first translation of the Bible in 1856, the same year in which the first Yoruba periodical also appeared. This was followed in 1875 by the first standardized orthography (which remains essentially unmodified today), issued by the CMS, under the supervision of Samuel Crowther.

The Reverend and later Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who became instrumental in the codification of the Yoruba language and was by far the


most fervent contributor to early Yoruba studies, was himself a Yoruba native. Enslaved and later liberated by the British Navy in 1821, Ajayi resettled in Sierra-Leone, as did other West-Africans after the British empire abolished the trade in humans. In Sierra-Leone, where many of the returning ex-enslaved were of Yoruba origin, Samuel Crowther became a missionary for the CMS of England. He was baptized in 1825 by John C. Raban, a German missionary working for the CMS who also christened the young AjAyf as Samuel Crowther. Raban exerted a profound and lasting influence on the young Crowther. His influence allowed Crowther to play a key role in moving the center of the study of the Yoruba language from Sierra-Leone to Yorubaland itself in a CMSled missionary effort to christianize the Yoruba-speaking areas of western Africa. The effort to transform Yoruba from a mainly spoken language to a written one was not the effort of one person alone. It was an international effort mostly led by European missionaries whose main purpose was to transmit the Judeo-Christian religion and culture. Apart from Samuel Crowther and his mentor, Raban, several other European missionary-linguists as well as other Yoruba-speaking people were involved. The significance and implications of this European missionary-linguist-led effort and its effect on Yoruba grammatical analysis are discussed further in the next chapter. This was the seed of the English-based analysis that later returned to haunt the grammatical analysis of the Yoruba language.

As one of the three largest groups of languages (classified as "national languages" in the constitution) in Nigeria, Yoruba is spoken by more than 20% of the population of Nigeria (the largest single black nation on earth), a country with a population of about 120 million people. The two other national languages are Hausa and Igbo, both of which are also regional languages in the north and southeastern parts of the country. In fact, Hausa is the most


widely spoken language within the West-African sub-region, followed by Yoruba (although the latter also is used as language of religious rites and communication outside the African continent). "Standard" Yoruba itself is an amalgamation of several dialects, essentially the dialects of Oyo, Ibadan, Abeokuta and Lagos, major activity centers of early CMS missionary activities, making Yoruba itself a koin( (Fagborun 1994), a process involving dialect mixing, levelling, and simplification (Trudgill 1986: 127, Siegel 1987: 186-7).

Apart from the standardized koin6, there are twenty other dialects of Yoruba: Oy6, IjishA, Ife, Ij(bfi, Ond6, O6, Owt, Egb6d6, Ch6ri, Igb6minA, S.Abe, Gbede, Egb.A, Ak6k6, AnAg6, Bini, YagbA, Ekiti, IkM and Aw6ri. These dialects are largely mutually intelligible, albeit with some variations in vocabulary and phonology and were largely spoken by different groups of people who, though tracing their descent to their common progenitor (OdiiduwA), did not consider themselves as one people. In fact, these groups belonged to different kingdoms and empires that fought each other in the past for various purposes, including territorial expansion. The term Yoruibt itself was used to refer solely to the people of the old savannah empire of Oy6 by their northern neighbors, the Hausa, who referred to them as the "Yariba" and later on as "Yorubawa." Thus, the term "Yoruba," first used by a neighboring people to refer to the Yoruba, is itself most likely not of "Yoruba" origin. Although there are several dialects of Yoruba, it is important to mention that my discussions and examples in this analysis shall be based on the so-called "standard" Yoruba. This is the only variety referred to as "Yoruba" and the only variety taught in schools in Yorubaland and abroad. It is the language of the media and of official government business. It also is my native language.

I have provided a brief historical background to the Yoruba language. I now return to its identifying features, especially as these features relate to its


phonology, morphology and syntax. In doing so, I follow established orthographic conventions which involves adding diacritics and two tone marks with subscript dot to the Roman alphabet system.

11 honglQ

As shown in Table 1.1, standardized Yoruba segmental phonemes are as follows. There are seven oral vowels and five nasalized vowels. The oral vowels are i, e, -- a, 3,0o, and u; with e and 3 orthographically notated as e and o respectively. The nasalized vowels are in, en, an, onl, and un. Orthographically they are represented as vowel + n when immediately after an oral consonant (e.g. s fn, pin) and as a simple vowel when they are immediately after a nasal consonant (e.g. mo, na). Thus, with the exception of /e/ and /0/ all the vowels have nasalized counterparts. Long vowels are represented by a doubling of the vowel, as in toor 'slender,' d166& 'exactly,' etc. It is important to note that nasalization is phonemic in the language; thus there is a difference in meaning between 'ri' 'to sink' and 'rin' 'to walk'; between 'si' (DIRECTIONAL) and 'sin' 'to sneeze'.

There are certain restrictions on the occurrence and co-occurrence of vowels. Vowel initial nouns, for example, cannot begin with [u] or a nasalized vowel. There are two basic patterns of vowel harmony in the language. First, the mid vowels e and o cannot cooccur with the mid vowels q and Q as the following examples indicate: Oso 'week', qs 'foot', QkQ 'husband', &, 'lip', epo 'oil', etc. The following combinations are not allowed: *QCo, *oZ?, *oCQ, eCq, etc. Similarly, front and back vowels may also not cooccur in monomorphemic CVCV sequences: Abfir6 'younger sibling', ah( r(! 'hut', 6kiki 'fame', etc.

Although tones are not represented in Table 1.1 they are also phonemic in Yoruba and bear a considerable functional load. The lexical importance of


tones is due to the role they play in differentiating between sets of lexical items. They are also of grammatical importance because of the role they sometimes play in grammatical distinction. These two features are discussed more fully in later sections. Yoruba has an open-ended syllable structure. That is, all syllables end in a vowel (which could be either an oral or a nasal vowel). The language does not permit consonant clusters (note that orthographic gb, as in gbA in the example below, is not considered a consonant cluster but a unit phoneme doubly articulated). Phonologically, a syllable consists of a vowel nucleus with an optional consonant onset: o 'second person singular subject pronoun', i1cs 'house' (V-syllables); ga 'to be tall', gbA 'to take' (CV-syllables); tAn 'to be finished', tin 'to spread, scatter' (CV-syllable with a nasalized vowel nucleus). A syllabic nasal constitutes a syllable in its own right, it cannot have an onset. A syllabic nasal can occur only medially (as in Og~kdflgb0J 'name of a person') and initially (ffkq 'where is?, where about?'), but not finally, and must be homorganic with the following consonant. The nucleus of a syllable assimilates to a nasal onset in terms of nasality; thus a vowel after a nasal consonant automatically is nasalized.

There are three contrastive level tones: high ('), low (*) and mid

(generally unmarked, but if it is necessary to mark it, then a macron M is placed over the syllabic nucleus, as with the other two tones). Although these contrastive tones are level, phonetic contours occur in some environments. For instance, a low tone immediately after a high tone is realized as a rising tone (as in 6 wA 'she exists', wc~n sian 'they slept'). Similarly, a high tone immediately after a low tone is realized as a rising tone: iwe 'book', 6re 'friend'; The functional importance of tones becomes obvious from the following example sets of lexical items, distinguished in meaning solely by the difference in tone marking: mul (to take), mu (to drink), mi (to be deep); rA (to


vanish), ra (to knead), rA (to buy/ be rotten); igbA (time, period), igba (two hundred), igbA (calabash), igbA (climbing rope), igbA (locust tree), etc. The only thing differentiating meaning in the words above is the tone. Note that a distributional restriction does not permit vowel-initial nouns to begin with a high tone. With the sole exception of this restriction, tonal co-occurrence is largely free in Yoruba nouns (rf. Comrie 1990 for further discussion).

As for the consonants, four basic places of articulation are

distinguished in the language: bilabial, alveolar, palatal and velar. In addition to these, there are two doubly articulated stops in Yoruba--the labial-velar stops--represented as p [kp] and gb [gb] respectively. The four voiceless fricatives are: f (labial), s (alveolar) and h (glottal). The palato-alveolar fricative [I] is written as a dotted /s/ (i.e. $). There are five sonorants: m (bilabial nasal), I (alveolar lateral), r (alveolar tap), y (palatal glide), w (velar glide), plus a syllabic nasal whose representation varies depending on the environment. It is realized as a velar when followed immediately by a vowel, as in 'n 6 r' [' 6 rA ] (I didn't buy/I won't buy). When it is followed by a consonant, the syllabic nasal is homorganic to the following segment, although in the written tradition this has been fossilized as a simple n, as in 'M6 m b6' (generally written as [m6 n bo]) (I am coming/I was coming-)t 'M6 n lo' (I am going/I was going). There are five stops: b (voiced bilabial), d (voiced alveolar), t (voiceless alveolar), g (voiced velar) and k (voiceless velar), plus two doubly articulated labial-velars, as mentioned above and a palatal stop: [d3] simply written as /j/. The voiceless labial-velar also is represented orthographically as a simple /p/, since there is no voiceless bilabial stop counterpart in the language.


1.2.2 Morphologv

The obligatory categories in Yoruba are syntactic while the derivational categories are mainly morphemic. There are two main processes of word formation, viz prefixation and reduplication. Nouns can be derived from verbs in several ways. Prefixes deriving agentive nouns from verbs include a-, 6and olfi-. Of these three, the a- prefix is the most productive while o- is the least productive. A- is generally prefixed to a verb phrase (VP) to derive a noun of the order 'one who does something', as in apqja 'fisherperson' (literally one who kills fish: a + pa + eja), akorin 'singer' (one who sings songs: a + k9 + orin) or an object that performs an action, as in abe 'knife' (that which cuts: a + be), ata 'pepper' (that which stings: a + ta). The prefix 6- harmonizes with its base VP to produce two variants: 6- and 0-. For instance 6$i/ 'worker' (one who works: 6 + se + i4), but omrws, 'a Ph.D. holder' (one who knows book: o + m6 + iw6). Examples of derivations with oluincluse olugbA.1 'savior' (one who saves: olfi + gbala), olt1pes6 'one who provides: olui + p!s), oliud morAn 'counselor' (one who counsels: olfi + dAn6rkn), etc.
Prefixes that form abstract nouns from VPs include i- and A- as in imo 'knowledge' (the art of knowing: i + m6), ireti 'hope' (the art of expecting: i + reti); AIQ 'going' (the art of going: A + lo), As4 'banquet' (the art of cooking: A + s). These prefixes sometimes form nonabstract nouns: idi 'bundle' (the art of binding: i + di), it -n 'story, history' (the art of spreading: i + t). Other prefixes include Ati- and Ai- both of which are used to derive either infinitives or gerunds. While ati- is used to derive affirmative forms, Ai- is used mainly in the derivation of negative forms: Atdi$0 'to work, working' (the art of doing work: A ti + se + is6), A tiQ 'to go, going' (the art of going: Ati + lo); Alnio


'joblessness' (the state of not having a job: ki + ni +is6), Aisfn 'vigil' (the state of not sleeping: A i + sin), etc.

Reduplication is another way in which new words are formed in

Yoruba. Although there are just two basic types of reduplication--complete and partial reduplication, this process is also highly productive. Complete reduplication is used mainly to express either intensification: pupo 'many, much' but pupopuip 'very many, much' or it can be used to change grammatical categories; d.Ara 'be good' (verb) but daadra 'good'(adjective). Another form of complete reduplication is the one that derives an agentive nominal from a VP: jagunjagun 'warrior' (fight war fight war: jA + ogun), k61k61O 'burglar' (steal/gather house: k6 + ilM). Partial reduplication is used to derive a noun from a verb. Generally, the initial consonant of a verb is copied and then followed by a high-toned [f] as in hlfQ 'going' (lo 'go), $f~e 'doing' (&e 'do'), etc. (cf. Comrie 1990).

Syntactically speaking, Yoruba is a highly configurational language. The basic word order is subject + verb + object (SVO). Noun phrases (NP), verb phrases (VP) and prepositional phrases (PP) are head-initial (i.e. the head of a phrase comes at the beginning. Examples (1-2) below show the basic word order typology of Yoruba.

(1) 016 rA kk6.
014 buy bicycle
'Ol bought a bicycle.'

(2) Mo ni iwo.
I have book
'I have a book.'

Both objects of a verb with more than one object follow the verb, with the second object preceded by the semantically empty preposition nL


(3) Mo fdn TAyyd ni ow6.
I give TAy6 PREP. money
'I gave TAyd some money.'

Also when a verb has a verbal complement, the complement follows the verb.

(4) Mo r6 p6 o kiri.
I think that you be+short
'I think that you are short.'

(5) Mo mo pd Kikd m6wd.
I know that Kik know+book
'I know that Kik4 is brilliant.'

Adverbials generally are post-verbal (6-7), although a small number precede

the verb (8-9).

(6) BAdd sanra pdpo,
Bade fat/big plenty/a lot
'Bade is very fat/big'

(7) Gb mi dddd gan an.
Gbemi is+dark very/really 'Gb!mi is very/really dark.'

(8) BAba t&t& dd.
Father quickly arrive
'Father arrived quickly.'

(9) Mo s Os IQ.
I just go
'I have just gone.'

Aspect markers are pre-verbal. These markers are the object of the next

chapter and will be discussed in further detail.

(10) A ti ji.
'We have awakened/We are awake.'

(11) Old a 1Q Si ild-1wd.
'Ol is/was going to school.'


Yes-no type questions are formed by placing either $6, or Nj,6 at the beginning of the sentence or bi at the end:

(12) $e 06 ni OW6?
'Do you have money?'

(13) Nj~ o nf ow6?
'Do you have money?'

(14) 0 nh o"6 bi?
'Do you have money?'

Since NPs are head-initial (as discussed earlier), adjectives, determiners, demonstratives and relative clauses appear post-nominally.

(15) I14 pupa
House red
'Red house'

(16) H6~ niAA
House that
'That house'

(17) fy4? Ui mo ri
Bird that I see
'The bird (that) I saw.'

One cannot bring this section on the structure of Yoruba to a close

without touching briefly on the subject of serial verbal constructions (SVC) in the language. As is the case in many languages of the Kwa group, in Yoruba it is possible for strings of VPs to appear one after the other without an intervening conjunction or subordinator. SVCs are so common in Yoruba that it is practically impossible to discuss the VP at any length without having to address the issue of SVCs. In fact, they are one of the hallmarks of the VP in Yoruba.


The SVCs exhibit very interesting properties, as can be observed in the examples below.

(18) Md un wd!
Bring it come
'Bring it (here)!

(19) Mo gbL e lQ.
I carry it go
'I took/carried it away.'

(20) Tfi ta igi fdn Told.
Titi sell wood give Told
'Titi sold Tolu some wood.'

In examples (18) and (19), the second verbs (wA, 1o) indicate the

direction in which the actions performed by the subjects took place. Both the first and second verbs point to the action of one and the same subject. In (20) the second verb (ffn) refers or points to the object of the benefactor of the action referred to by the first verb. However, it is also possible to have an SVC construction of this type in (18) and (19) where the subject of the second verb becomes the object of the first verb. In that instance, it is the object of the verb (d 'push') who suffers the consequence of the action and not the subject (as in the last two examples). Such is the case in example (21) below.

(21) ti ml lull.
PAd push me hit+ground
'Pdd pushed me down.'

It is also possible to have two transitive verbs combined in the same SVC construction. In such cases the serial verb sequence will have two object NPs, as in (22) and (23) below.

(22) TfA pQn onim kdn Amei.
T M draw water fill pot
'Tifd filled the pot with water.'


(23) Ol6 yan ibQn pa erin.
Olt shoot gun kill elephant 'Olu killed the elephant with a gun.'

In many instances, however, the object NP separating the two transitive verbs is also the object of both VPs.

(24) KAtnmf se i.u ti.
K nmi cook yam sell
'Knmmi cooked yam to sell.'

(25) Mo ra btirodi j.
I buy bread eat
'I bought bread to eat.'

In both of the above examples, the NPs (isu) and (bfir(di) are the objects of the verbs that both precede and follow them. There are many other types of serial verb constructions than those given above. However, since serial verbs are not the object of this dissertation, it will be impossible to give an exhaustive analysis of this very interesting topic in Yoruba syntax. Neither will it be necessary, especially since a lot of indepth analyses have already been carried out by others (cf. Bamgb6s6 1966, 1967, 1995, Aw
Although it is quite obvious from the brief summary of Yoruba

grammar given above, it will be pertinent to point attention to the fact that articles, grammatical gender (cf. Oyewiumi 1997 for a more detailed discussion of the imposition of gender on Yoruba through translation tradition based on English), number, and inflection are not relevant to YorubA. This is not to say that YoribA is "deficient" or "lacks" some things in its grammatical make-up. It only means that Yorubd emphasizes different things than English or any other language for that matter. This issue will be revisited in the next chapter.


1.3 The Dyaamics of Yoriibd and English in Nigeri

In this final section of my introductory chapter I will present a brief overview of the complex dynamics of Yoruba and English within the sociocultural and political context of Nigeria. First, I will give a brief history of how the English language came into what has come to be known as the present day Nigeria and how this has affected English and Yoruba and how both languages are used in Nigeria today.

English was officially introduced into Nigeria with the arrival of British merchants on the west coast of Africa during the 17th century. During most of this time English was confined to the coastal areas with which the British did legitimate trade and later on the obnoxious trade in humans. The type of English used then was a mixture of English words with West African syntax (mostly of the Kwa group of languages, to which Yoruba belongs). It was this variety of English that later on developed in what is today known as Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE). The need for communication between European merchants and their Nigerian counterparts gave birth to this form of communication, a compromise speech of sorts, between the English-speaking British merchants and their Nigerian trading partners who spoke indigenous languages. Thus NPE was already widely spoken along the coast before the coming of the colonial administration. However, what is today known as "standard" Nigerian English (NE) did not emerge until the arrival of the Christian missionaries who began to establish schools for purposes of religious instruction. The preceding colonial administration did not see the need to educate their African subjects in their own language. They felt that the compromise that created NPE was good enough for their purposes. It was only decades later that the colonial administration itself began to take some interest in educating their Nigerian subjects, mostly for their own self-serving


reasons and partly because they wanted to wrest the power of educating the people from the hands of the missionaries with whom they were not always on good terms. The missionaries, whose mission was mainly religious and not commercial, established schools and began to formally teach the Africans the English language (Ad6kdn1(! 1985: 18-19). This is what Adekunle calls the first phase in the evolution of NE. As has been mentioned earlier in this chapter, it was also the missionaries who began to put the indigenous languages into writing. Names like Raban, Gollmer and Venn come to mind here-all CMS missionary-linguists who were seriously involved in codifying the Yoruba language and who had a great impact on the Yoruba-born missionary-linguist, Bishop Crowther.

The second phase of the establishment of English in Nigeria covers the period from the amalgamation of Nigeria until the time of independence in 1960. It was during this period that the colonial administration got involved in education and began to subsidize the efforts of the missionaries. The colonial government had discovered that it needed some educated Nigerians to help in the smooth running of the State, at least at the administrative level. At this point in time, a number of Nigerians had already had the opportunity to travel and to study in the United Kingdom under the auspices of the Mission Boards. These returned to serve as middle level administrators. Meanwhile, the number of native Britons had also increased in the country. It was during this period that the standardized variety of NE began to stabilize, especially with the establishment of more schools, as teachers began to teach a standardized form of English in preference to the Pidgin English that had already spread beyond the coastal areas into the far interiors of the country. This could be called the middle period of the evolution of SNE.


The third phase in this evolution extends from the period of selfdetermination (i.e. independence) until the present. During this phase, most of the stabilizing effort was carried out by Nigerians trained in the UK. Many Nigerians had already been trained as teachers by this time, and it was mostly these British-trained women and men who began to do most of the teaching in the classrooms of Nigeria. It is interesting to note here that these indigenous teachers were adults who already spoke several Nigerian languages before they began to learn English. They could therefore not have had native-like accents and could probably not be considered as perfect bilinguals. The English they spoke and taught in the schools was definitely not the English spoken by the monolingual British person. Most of it would have been colored by the native languages that they were already proficient in before they set their foot in the classrooms of England. If SNE developed from these circumstances, it is therefore obvious that SNE cannot by any standards be the same as the so-called "Queen's English" (See Ajani 1995, 1996) spoken by the English people. This is not to imply that it was or is inferior, but rather that it is different because it has been shaped by its environment. It must have acquired a lot of indigenous flavor. It must be a localized form of English, tailored to the needs of the Nigerian populace as well as influenced by the languages with which it coexisted, or better said, was in competition with. And I don't use the word "competition" lightly here, because until the postindependence period when nationalistic and forward-looking Nigerian leaders decided to systematically implement a new language policy for the nation, it was a major crime in the schools for any Nigerian child to speak her or his mother tongue. There was therefore a calculated attempt by the colonialists to stamp out the indigenous languages in favor of the English tongue. I can still remember a lot of us being severely flogged during our elementary and high


school education for daring to speak our mother tongue while in school. The rule was simple: English only; or face the dire consequences. It is interesting to note that most of us already spoke two or more languages before setting foot in the classrooms.

Having learnt English under these circumstances, it should not be surprising that early writers like Amos Tutuola chose to write in English. Neither is it surprising that Tutuola's English and the English of other modern Nigerian writers, including the Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka and internationally acclaimed novelists like Chinua Achebe, still write in an English that is influenced by it's writers' multilingual and multicultural background and experiences.

In Nigeria today, English is still very important and even ejoys much higher status than any of our indigenous languages, including the major lingua francas that had been used as languages of wider communication long before the arrival of the British on those soils. Today, English is still the language of social mobility, although its status has been reduced to that of an official language, as opposed to the three national languages -- Yoritbd, Hausa and Igbo. All four languages now coexist in a diglossic state in the nation, with SNE being used mostly by the educated Mlite, NPE by the not-so-educated Nigerians who did not have the opportunity to go to college, although practically all the educated 61ite also are either conversant with or are fluent in NPE as well. They code-switch and code-mix between SNE, NPE and the various local languages that they know. Thus code-switching and code-mixing are a fundamental part of the linguistic environment of Nigeria, as it is in most African languages today.

In the Yorubaland section of Nigeria, children begin their education in Yoriibl and continue to receive all their academic instructions in it for at least


the first three years of elementary education, with English as a subject within the curriculum. After the first three years of elementary education English switches place with Yoruiba and becomes the language of instruction while YoriibA becomes a subject on the curriculum. This notwithstanding, Yoritbd continues as an academic discipline and is studied up to the doctoral and postdoctoral levels in any of the several universities located within the YoritbA region of Nigeria. Today, YoriibA studies is a serious and respectable discipline with many people studying to the Ph.D. level and writing their dissertations entirely in Yoruba. Several news dailies are written in YornibA in the YoriLba states and there are radio and television programs written and presented entirely in YoriibA to the more than 20 million potential viewing audience in the YoriibA-speaking states of Nigeria as well those in neighboring Benin Republic and Togo. Numerous books and articles, theses and dissertations -- on both literary and scientific topics -- have been and still continue to be written in the language.

The YoriLbA are great lovers of education and would leave no stone unturned to better educate themselves and their children because, as the YoritbA saying goes, "Ek6 nfl sonii deni giga" (It is education that makes one a person of importance." Thus, within the Nigerian socio-cultural and political environment, YoritbA and English continue to march on in peaceful coexistence into the future, at least for now. Just as English has been influenced by Yorilbd because of the historical circumstances that brought both languages together, so has YoritbA been influenced by English. In fact, today there are many English loan words in the YoriLbA language, as both languages and cultures continue to influence each other as they move on into the future. English is now taught as a discipline up to the doctoral level in Nigerian universities, and all Yorilba children receiving a formal education


must of necessity learn English. English has permeated all facets of life in this former British colony. It is interesting to add too that the Yoriiba language is not only taught in Nigeria, but also in major British and American universities and in other major universities of Europe. In fact, I have had the privilege of teaching YorulbA language, culture and civilization to students from all over Europe at the National Institute of Oriental and African Languages (INALCO) in Paris, France. Yoritb-A is also one of the major African languages taught and researched at the prestigious London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in England. I am also aware that one of our Yoruba professors from Nigeria (Dr. OULb~xi6) now teaches Yoruba in one of the major universities in Japan.

Today, Yorutba remains one of the most studied and researched African languages. The Yoiiibd diaspora, which is mostly a direct result of the forced transportation and relocation of able-bodied Yoritbd women and men from their homeland to the New World, continues to produce and to generate studies on the influence and impact of Yoriibd language, culture, religion and civilization on the rest of the world. In places like Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and the United States, Yoriibd religion and the language of that religion continues to gain loyal adherents and speakers. Similarly, Yorfibd art is being exhibited in major cities of the world as the beautiful handiwork of gifted and talented Yoribd people continue to gain in prestige and importance, both among the educated elite as well as among religious adherents. Due to the recent economic hardship in Nigeria, there is now a new generation of YorfibA descendants scattered all over the world, especially in the more economically prosperous lands of the West, the iddle-East and Asia. This generation of new-corners too continues to spread the influence of YoribA language and culture into every nook and cranny of the globe, thus


continuing to enrich the culture of our global village in which we all live today.

This brief story of the dynamic relationship between English and

Yoruba within the Nigerian context can serve, I think, as a reminder of the verity of the basic principle of contact linguistics, that language contact is not unidirectional but rather a two dimensional highway. As two languages and peoples come into contact, both languages must of necessity exert some degree of influence on each other, given the right circumstances. Unfortunately, however, sometimes the result is not always the good ending of peaceful coexistence. This is the sad story of many indigenous languages that have suffered death due to the contact they had with some languge of power at one point in time or another. Sometimes the languages of the less powerful have not only died, the speakers of such languages have perished along with their languages. Language death is not just something of the past, it is still a sad reality of our time and age. Maybe the kind of study in which I am engaged will continue to serve as a reminder that languages can continue to co-exist, just as people can, and that such peaceful co-existence can benefit not only the people who speak those languges, but also enrich world civilization, culture and language in general. People like Tutuola have not only enriched world culture by sharing the lores of their culture with the rest of the world through the instrumentality of the English languge. They also, as part of the process of sharing, enrich language worldwide and the English language in particular.

In the next chapter I focus on the YorfibA language and especially the structure of the verb phrase and more specifically the dynamics of temporality in the language. I begin my discussion with a brief literature review on time relations in YoritbA and follow it with a personal reanalysis of


the subject. This prepares the way for a detailed analysis of Amos Tutuola's English in Chapter 3. In Chapter 4, 1 summarize some of the salient issues involved in this study of aspect in Yoruba and Nigerian English and suggest certain implications of this study for both English and Yorfibd, both as they relate to theories of grammar and literary criticism and to teaching English (ESL) and Yorutbd (YSL) as second languages.


The treatment of aspectual and temporal relations in the Yoruba

language (YL) has been fraught with confusion right from the onset of formal analysis of the language. This confusion has a long history. It began with the father of Yoruba linguistics--Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, whose foundational work, A Grammnar of the Yoruba Language (1852), laid the groundwork for all future grammars of the language. Bishop Crowther's work was modeled meticulously after the analysis of the English language (EL), the language in which he had received all of his linguistic training. He therefore was very careful not to deviate from the English model. Unfortunately, almost a century and a half afterwards, his methodology and basis of analysis by and large still command the adherence of YL linguists. In fact, so strong is the influence of Crowther that even Ayo Bamgbose (considered the "father" of modem Yoruba linguistics) could not escape some of his methods and conclusions (cf. the latter's A Grammnar of Yoruba (1966) and A Short Grammnar of Yoruba (196 7)).

As an example, most of what Bamgbose analyzed as tense markers are indeed aspect markers, while some of them are actually either modals or elements belonging to other categories in the grammar. For the purposes of this dissertation I will be focussing on elements that belong to aspect but which have been anylyzed as tenses. Bamgbose, for instance, classified the INTENTIONAL aspect marker 'yW6 and the ANTICIPATIVE 'mda' as "Future Tenses" and the INCOMPLETiVE Wn as "Continuous Tense". He categorized all of



the above aspects under "Simple Tenses". Interestingly enough, he also classified the INCOMPLETIVE aspect marker 'n (which he had earlier on analyzed as "Continuous Tense") as a "Habitual Tense," thus having two different classifications for the same marker. It is to be noted, however, that in languages that mark tense (such as EL) one tense marker cannot be used to refer to two different time frames. Thus "She will come" cannot be both future and past tense at the same time. Moreover, most of what I classify under the rubric of Complex Aspects, Bamgbose classifies as "Perfective Tenses." Examples include the BACKGROUNDER aspect 'yi6 ti', which he analyzed as "Perfective Future Tense"; the RELEVANT-INCEPITIVE aspect 'ti n', as "Perfective Continuous Tense"; the ANTECEDENT-COMPLETION 'ti maa n' as "Perfective Habitual Tense"; and the RELATIONAL aspect (one of the simple aspects) as "Perfective Unmarked Tense". Although this aspect is overtly marked, Bamgbose, for some reasons, still calls it an unmarked "tense" (Bamgbose 1967: 25-3 1).

One other interesting aspect of Bamgbose's analysis is the classification of negation as tense, which led him to classify his "simple tense" into two broad categories of "Positive Tenses" and "Negative Tenses", as if there were such a thing as negative time. I believe negation to be a completely separate category in the grammar and it should be treated as such, rather than woven into the category of "tenses" or even aspect for that matter. Bamgbose's analysis is therefore quite unsatisfactory and inadequate in the light of current knowledge. But he is not alone in this. Other linguists before and after him have done similar things that are worthy of mention at this point.

Before Bamgbose, Samuel Ajayi Crowther (1852), the pioneer of Yoruba language studies, had analyzed YL verbs into three main time frames: present, past indefinite, and future. He also identified sex-based gender in YL for


which, as a category, I do not find evidence in the language. Other categories that he proposed occupy a different position in the grammar. Crowther, for instance, tried hard to make tense "happen" in YL by postposing time adverbs such as 'lanA' (yesterday), '16ni1' (today), and 1161a' (tomorrow) to verbs and using them to explain tense in YL, claiming that tense is grammatical in the language. The only problem with this kind of analysis is that in YL the form of the verb does not change (as it does in EL, the language he chose for his model). In EL one does not need a time adverbial to indicate tense; rather it is the inflection or change in the verb that brings this about, or in the case of the future tense, the use of a modal.

A number of contemporary Yoruba linguists have recognized this

problem and have attempted to handle it in different ways (cf. Awoyale 1974, Bolorunduro, 1980, Amoran 1986) but the problem still reins.

Awoyale, for instance, devoted scarcely two pages to this all-important issue of tense and aspect in his dissertation on the syntax and semantics of YL nominalizations. In his attempt, he identified two tense markers in YL--'N' and I'ti'--but went right ahead to describe them in terms of aspect. He called the former a progressive marker and the latter a perfective marker, both of which are terms used in describing aspectual relations. Also, Awoyale's analysis, like many others before it, is laden with deficit hypothesis (See Hardnman 1988 for a more detailed discussion on "deficit hypothesis"). Agai and again he repeats the phrase "4Yoruba does not have...". One of such instances is his comment on the present tense:

Yoruba dosno a an overt marker for the present tense. That is,
there is no way to say in Yoruba

42) He struggles with death


without using the progressive marker, N" (1974: 37-38).(my

What is clearly observable in the above analysis is that Awoyale is using the English language as a model for Yoruba. He therefore expects YL to have everything that EL has in its grammar. When he does not find such similarity, he declares YL as deficient, compared to EL. What Awoyale might have said, if he had chosen to take a more descriptive approach, is that YL uses aspect to perform the same function for which EL uses tense. Thus, where EL uses the present simple tense, Y1 uses the "progressive aspect" (incompletive aspect in my analysis-cf. Section Or he could simply say that tense is not of primary importance in YL but aspect ja. Without a deficit hypothesis as his starting point, Awoyale would not have made the strong, but wrong, unilateral statement quoted above "There is no way to say in Yoruba" is a statement that makes YL to appear to be stuck and in need of rescue by EL What Awoyale failed to take into account is the natural independence of individual languages. Every language is a system in itself and individual speakers can, and do, find ways to say what they want to say within that system. It should not be expected that any two systems will correspond in the simplicity of expression for any given idea. It is also true, of course, that no translation is ever fully accurate. The differences in obligatory categories--what must be said-always require that some ideas be expressed by one language that are not required by the other. EL requires tense, YL requires aspect, so the two never quite meet. Furthermore, Awoyale went on to say that YL doe nt ay (emphasis again mine) a special marker or inflection for the past tense (1974:38). It would seem that he expects YL to use inflections and to have something similar or equal to the EL past tense.


Awoyale's work is just one example of problems that have resulted from attempts of YL linguists educated in EL to impose rules related to tense upon a language to which they do not apply.

Another attempt worth mentioning at this juncture is that of Amoran

(1986), an M.A. thesis on "Auxiliaries and Time Reference in Yoruba." Amoran, who devotes a chapter to 'Time Reference and Aspect in Yoruba,' makes the following interesting observations:

The indication of specific or absolute time does not appear to have a
pronounced place in the Yoruba verbal system. What is more important
is the spread of the action or state through time and its aspect in terms
of duration, progression, repetition, and completion rather than a
tripartite division into present, past and future...The trend has been to
treat tense as the dominant feature in Yoruba...I treat aspect as the dominant feature in the Yoruba verbal system. Further, I consider
Yoruba a tenseless language... (pp. 32-33).

The above statement is both insightful and bold, in the light of previous scholarship on this very important subject in YL grammar. Amoran rightly makes allusions to earlier scholarship on this issue, such as those of Bamgbose (1967), Awobuluyi (1967) and Ogunbowale (1970). He rightly points to the inadequacy of Bamgbose's analysis, judging from the fact that he treated tense as the dominant feature in YL. Also, his two tense systems--simple and perfective--was, as Amoran observed, an indication on Bamgbose's confused interpretation of aspect and tense. Amoran also noted that although Awobuluyi went a step further than Bamgbose, his attempt was quite simplistic, in that he identified mainly two aspectual components in YL, viz priority and duration as well as a dual tense opposition, subdivided into definite and indefinite, where definite tense corresponds to present and past tense forms and the indefinite corresponds to future tense. Thus, according to Awobuluyi's analysis, anything future is an aspect while anything present or past is a tense -apparently a very simplistic view of a very complex issue. Similarly, Ogunbowale's analysis, observes Amoran, is very inadequate in that it followed


the tradition of Bamgbose and others before him, as it treated YL from a tense perspective, subdividing it into a dichotomy of future and non-future tenses (p. 34).

Having briefly teased out some of the major inadequacies of some of the earlier analyses before him, Amoran proceeds to present his own analysis. He identifies what others had called future tense as aspect markers and the nonfuture as tense. He then divides the latter into stative and non-stative verbs, a position that is not too far afield from that of Awobuluyi's. According to the former's analysis, stative verbs are inherently timeless while non-stative ones, by their nature have a past interpretation. His examples of non-stative verbs with a past interpretation includes the following

-[25] 0 lo
He went.

[26] 0 rA a
He bought it." (p.35)

For stative verbs, he has these examples,

"[281 0 fM ow6
He wants money.

[29] Mo gbA
I agree or agreed." (p.35)

One inconsistency I find with this analysis is that although Amoran

says that stative verbs are timeless, he still goes on to translate example [29] as present or past. Definitely "I agreed" is not timeless but rather a past event. I believe it is much safer to call the unmarked aspect the completive aspect (my interpretation) because calling it a past tense generates some other problems For example, I wonder how Amoran would translate "Mo ri i" (I see her/him/it). If we follow Amoran's analysis, it should be translated as a past


tense: "I saw her/him/it", since the verb see is a non-stative verb. However, that same sentence could also be translated as "I can see it/I see it". It is due to these types of confusion that I prefer to refer to the unmarked as an aspect-completive aspect--rather than a tense. Seeing it as an aspect will take care of the confusion that calling it a tense would normally generate, especially since aspect does not address itself to issues of time.

Another inconsistency in Amoran's analysis is that although he says

that non-stative verbs have a past interpretation, he later on analyzes them as simple aspects, giving some of them a present and others a past interpretation, as can be seen in examples [33] and [34] respectively "[33] Ade j e onje nAAi
Ad& eat food the
Ade eat (sic) the food.

[34] 0 lo si oj A d
He go to marker the
He went to the market." (p.39)

Thus, although both verbs are non-stative, Amoran translates the first as a present and the second as a past. Amoran's classification is therefore ambivalent. He wavers between calling the unmarked a tense or an aspect. Also, one expects that if Amoran had a simple aspect he would also have a complex aspect, but this is not the case. Apart from what he termed as the simple aspect he has five other forms of aspect, viz the anticipative (rnAa, y66, 6, d), the perfective (ti), the continuative (n), the habitual (m"a n) and the inceptive (a mda--a variant of 'yi6 mda').

A close look at this classification shows that Amoran is actually on track in some of his denominations, such as the anticipative, the habitual and the inceptive. The only problem is that he sometimes lumps different aspects together into one single aspect, such as the case with his "anticipative", which


also includes the intentional (yi6). The other two aspect markers, (d) and (6) are actually variants of 'mAa' and 'yi6', respectively. It is also quite interesting that in his classification he fails to provide examples with the other three aspect markers that make up his 'anticipative'. His two examples are only with 'maa'. His definition of the perfective too is very inadequate and does not really fully explain the function of 'ti'. He simply says that it "expresses an action that is completed". This definition sounds very much like the completive to me. What Amoran calls the "continuative" I will classify as "incompletive", what he calls "perfective", I will call "relational". What he calls "simple", I will call "completive". On the whole, Amoran's efforts are in the right direction, apart from some of the inadequacies mentioned above and the fact that he does not account for all of the aspect markers in the language. For instance, he leaves out several of the complex aspect markers such as 'yi6 ti', yio ti mJ~a' and 'ti mda n'. We also observe the same kind of trend that one finds in previous analyses in the area of gender and pronouns. Amoran consistently translates the genderless third person singular subject pronoun as "he." We find this in his examples [251, [26], [28] and [34] quoted above as* well as in all of his other examples in his analysis. In spite of all of these, I believe Amoran still deserves commendation for his bold stance and for the many declarations in his thesis that YL is fundamentally an aspect driven language and should be treated as such, although he himself does not completely follow his own advice.

One last example to be considered here is that of Bolorunduro (1980).

Bolorunduro's work has so much merit in it that I will need to pause a little bit at this point and provide some of his insights on the previous analyses of tense and aspect in YL. Apart from a few inadequacies found in his own personal analysis (which I shall address later on) I believe Bolorunduro's work is an


important landmark in the analysis of temporality in YL. Like Amoran, Bolorunduro found it necessary to begin with earlier analyses of temporality in YL. In doing so, he appears to be very much on the right track. Bolorunduro examines the works of five YL linguists, Bamgbose (1967), Delano (1965), Awobuluyi (1978), Ayelaagbe (Undated M.A. thesis) and Ogunbowale (1970). In his critique of the first three (i.e. Bamgbose, Delano and Awobuluyi), he observes that they failed to make any clear distinction between tense and aspect in YL, then goes on to make a similar comment on Bamgbose's analysis, pointing out that he jumbled tense with negation and subdivided tense into "simple" and "perfective" tenses. Bolorunduro then asks a pertinent question: if there is a simple tense, should there not be a complex tense also? He then, continuing his critique, observes that instead of a complex tense, Bamgbose posits a "perfective tense", and that he identified aspect markers such as "yi6, n, ma n and mAa" as tense markers. Bolorunduro then asks another important question, this one having to do with the positive-negative opposition,

Bamgbose further subdivides the so-called simple tense into Positive and Negative tense. Here one is tempted to ask what difference exists
between positive and negative tenses. If the primary semantic function
of tense is to indicate the relation between the time at which the
sentence is uttered and the time of the action that is expressed in the
main verb, one could then ask if there is a positive time and a negative time? To my mind this cannot be true. Tense, in those languages where
it exists, have [sic] no negative and positive concepts. (p. 8).

On Ayelaagbe's analysis, Bolorunduro observes that the latter divides YL verbs into two categories--those that can be marked for all tenses and those that can only be marked for future tense. He rightly remarks that such a division does not occur in YL. Again, what I see Ayelaagbe doing here is similar to what I have remarked earlier on about a deficit hypothesis syndrome that has plagued YL grammatical analyses. Apparently, Ayelaagbe expects YL verbs to behave exactly the same way as EL verbs.


In Bolorunduro's analysis of Delano's work, too, we see some of the same problems. Delano analyzed YL verbs as having present, past and future tenses. He also maintained that there exists in YL a difference between the form of the ygr (my emphasis) which expresses the present or past times and went ahead to give such spurious examples as provided below,

OjO IQ Ojo goes or Ojo went (present or past tense)
(Ojo go)


Ojo 1Q I~nA.J Ojo went yesterday (past tense)
(Ojo go yesterday)

Bolorunduro rightly observes that a close look at the above examples shows clearly that there is no change in the form of the verb "lo" (to go) in both instances--and "lMnaA" (yesterday) is obviously not a verb! What makes for the difference in time in the second sentence is not a change in the form of the verb, but rather the addition of the time adverb "ladnA". The idea of a past time is therefore not marked on the verb, which obviously remains the same in the two examples given. The only reference to time here is the adverb of time "lanWa. This kind of faulty analysis is reminiscent of the work of Samuel Crowther before him, who also followed a similar line of analysis.

Apart from the above types of erroneous analysis, Delano's work is also filled with terminological confusion. For example, here is one of the analyses I find in his work. In the examples below, he identifies the aspect markers "n, ti, and yi6 (y66, in his analysis)" as tense markers,

01o =He goes
01i lo, =He is going
Oti lo, =He has gone
Y66J lo =He will go (Bolorunduro: 12)


It is once again apparent that, in addition to the erroneous classification of aspect markers as tense markers, the translation tradition that we find illustrated above, a translation that consistently misrepresents the third person subject pronoun as masculine leads to further difficulties. Gender is, in fact, not an issue here, especially since the third person singular marker "6" is gender neutral and can be translated as "she", "he" or even "it". It is this type of analysis that Hardman refers to as Derivational Thinking (cf. Hardman 1978, 1993a, 1993b, 1994), a type of thinking that is very characteristic of Western thought, especially English, based on linearity and hierarchy and which assumes this mode of thinking to be universal.

Finally, Bolorunduro turns attention to Awobuluyi's analysis, which, although he does not use the term "tense" or "aspect," presents similar problems. What Bamigbose calls "preverbs," Awobuluyi calls "pre-verbal adverbs," and thus we are still faced with the same problems. Although terminology is different, both are dealing with aspect markers, for, as Awobuluyi later on goes on to say,

In positive sentences, future action is signified by the presence of any
one of y6b, 6, 6, a mila and ii. (Bolorunduro 13).

Thus Awobuluyi's analysis follows closely after that of Bamgbose, in that he too identifies "positive" and "negative" tenses. and although the former does not use the word "tense" in his analysis,--he uses "action" instead--he still makes reference to tense in the above statement. It is still the same attempt to say that tense is a grammatical category in YL and thus is significant.

Bolorunduro concludes his insightful examination of some of the previous analyses by remarking that

There is the semantic concept of time reference (absolute or relative)
which may be grammaticalised in a language, i.e. a language may have a grammatical category that expresses time reference in which case we


say that the language has tense. Yoruba for example does not have
grammaticalised time reference, though probably all languages
lexicalise time reference in the sense that they have temporal
adverbials and lexical items that locate situations in time such as lAn A,
16nii, 161a, 16dn t6 kojA. (p. 15).

Bolorunduro goes on to note that what his predecessors had analyzed as "pre-verbal adverbs" ("pre-verbs" in others) are in essence aspect markers and not tense markers as they would have us believe. Thus, Bolorunduro's more thorough and accurate analysis provides a more useful perspective for analysis of YL temporal relations.

Although Bolorunduro identified a number of inadequacies in previous treatments of temporal relations and made a bold attempt to reanalyze YL aspectual relations with a good measure of success, his analysis is still largely unsatisfactory. He seems, first of all, to have either mingled other elements in the grammar (e.g. locative and adverbial expressions) with aspect or incorrectly analyzed some aspect markers. His analysis, with its 38 different aspect markers, appears to unnecessarily cumbersome. His further claim that there are between forty and fifty YL aspect markers (pp. 19-21) suggests a need for fine tuning. It appears to me that in his zeal to propose an aspect oriented grammatical analysis of YL, Bolorunduro also brought in other elements that do not belong in the category of aspect. (His Group II aspect category, for example, consists of mostly modals and other adverbials.) All this notwithstanding, one must still give due credit to Bolorunduro for observing correctly that tense has no systematic formal expression in Yoruba and that Yoruba has an aspectual system rather than a tense system (p. 3). I believe this observation of Bolorunduro's is an important landmark in the analysis of YL grammar. So far, he is the only one I know of who has made a deliberate effort to depart from the previous line followed by earlier grammarians and


linguists and attempted to analyze YL as primarily an aspectual rather than a tense language.

Having presented some of the merits of Bolorunduro's analysis, I will now attempt to show why his efforts, though commendable, are still far from being adequate and satisfactory. Although he correctly identifies YL as fundamentally an aspect driven language, and successfully defines and differentiates between tense and aspect (cf. his definitions on pp.1-2, 6-7), he appears to have lumped other elements into the category that belong elsewhere in the grammar. Some of these elements include modals such as 1 (can, could), gbQd (must); adverbials such as t~tm (quickly), 0 (just), jiji (afterall) tin (again), sAJb (usually), jfrao (together); negators such as k6, ki f,; connectives such as b (with), si (and, also), etc. Apparently the only elements in Bolorunduro's analysis that qualify as aspect markers are those in his Group I, viz y66/oo/a, mia, nii, i, ti, id, a, i, although we still find a negator (i, a shortened form of ki) and nfl, a negative form of the verbal particle nf appearing in this category.

Bolorunduro's difficulties begins with his division of aspect markers into two categories. At this point he classifies those in the first group as "aspectual markers without any independent meaning" and those in category II as "aspectual markers that have independent meaning" (pp. 19-20). Apparently, it goes without saying that if some aspect markers have independent meaning of their own, they can no longer be considered as aspect markers, since aspect markers, by definition, have only grammatical functions and are devoid of any independent semantic meaning.

From every indication, YL is largely an aspectual rather than a tensed language, as Comrie (1976: 82) also rightly observed, although he didn't go into detail. In other words, a close look at the language reveals that the internal


temporary constituency of a particular activity or event is far more important than the actual time of its performance. This is in no way to say that YL cannot indicate time relations, when such information is relevant. Like any other language, YL can and does indicate time relations, generally by the means of adverbial expressions (syntactic) rather than by changes in the verb (morphological). That is, such information, when appropriate, is coded by means of additional lexical items rather than through inflection of the verb stem. It may also be omitted if not relevant. Indeed, as Lyons has pointed out, in YL the process of the action is primarily the focus of the aspectual markers (cf. Lyons 1968). As we have seen, most of these markers have been analyzed, to one degree or another, as tense markers by earlier Yoruba grammarians (cf. Delano 1965, Bamgbose 1966, 1967, Ogunbowale 1970, Awobuluyi 1978, Awoyale 1988, etc.). The purpose of this chapter is to attempt to bring some degree of clarity into this often muddy area of YL grammar.

2.1 The Nature of the Verb Phrase (VP) in V

I begin my analysis with the nature of the verb phrase (VP), because I believe that it is impossible to do any satisfactory analysis of aspectual, or even temporal relations in the language without first of all understanding how the VP operates in the overall syntactic set up.

The VP in Yoruba has probably received more attention from Yoruba linguists than any other aspect of the language and has been the center of a major controversy and debate for many years (Bamgbose 1972, Bolorunduro 1980). The nature of this controversy has been simply summarized by Bamgbose,

The most problematic issue in the analysis of the Yoruba verb phrase
has always been how to find a defining criterion (or criteria) for verbs
which will be sufficiently powerful to embrace all verbs, and yet
exclude all non-verbs. ..In this matter, there are two schools of thought


the 'wide definition' school who would accept as a verb any nonnominal item in the verb phrase (sometimes including auxiliaries), and
the 'narrow definition' school who would accept as verbs only those
items in the verb phrase which can occur in a minimal sentence (i.e. a
basic sentence having only one verb). (Bamgbose 1972: 1, 17).

This should not be a surprise to anyone who knows anything about the central role the verb plays in a sentence. Due to the many disagreements on the nature and order of the VP in YL, however, a foundational conference on the Yoruba Verb Phrase (YVP) was convened under the auspices of the Egb6 Onim6 Ed YortibA (The Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria) at the University of Ibadan--Nigeria's foremost tertiary institution--on April 1-2, 1971 to discuss and consider possible solutions to this thorny issue in Yoruba language studies. The 1971 seminar was itself a follow-up to an earlier one held at another major Nigerian university, the Cbafemi Awolowo University (then known as the University of Ift), II-If from December 13-16, 1969. It was at this conference that the issue of the YVP was raised. At the root of this controversy are the many disagreements on what really constitutes a verb in YL (cf. Bamgbose 1972.) The end product of the YVP Conference was a special volume entitled The Yoruba Verb Phrase edited by Professor Ayo Bamgbose and published in 1972. It contained a series of articles presented at the conference by noted Yoruba linguists--Afolayan, Awobuluyi, Bamgbose, Kujore, Oyelaran and Oke. Each paper contained the views and perspectives of the various presenters at this important conference. There have been several other conferences and colloquia on the Yoruba verb as well as other aspects of the language since the first two mentioned above and several articles have been written and yet the debate rages on.

According to my analysis, the VP in YL consists of ASPECT + VERB + (OPTIONAL) ADVERB OF TIME. Thus the verb is preceded by the obligatory aspectual markers (see example (1) and (2) below) and followed optionally by


adverbial expressions of time, if and when necessary (examples (3) and (4)). However, it is not uncommon to find adverbs of time preceding the aspect markers and the verb, as examples (5) and (6) clearly demonstrate. Thus, although the aspectual markers must obligatorily precede the verb, the time adverbs can optionally appear at the beginning of a sentence, mostly as a focus. device (when writing they are immediately followed by a comma), to draw attention to the time element in the sentence. Nevertheless, in a nonfocus construction, the regular position of the time adverbs is post-verbal, as examples (3) and (4) below indicate. The fact that the optional time adverbs can either precede or come after the verb shows clearly their independent, lexical nature. The aspect markers, however, do not have an independent lexical meaning. The fact that they do have a grammatical meaning, though, can be seen from the fact that when placed before verbs, they provide the sentence with much needed aspectual information, but placed post-verbally, they become grammatically meaningless. Their meaning is therefore derived from their position before the verb. It is in this sense that they can be classified as proclitics in particular and clitics in general. From the foregoing, it is obvious that the optional elements in the grammar (e.g. time adverbs) are for the most part post-verbal while those that are obligatory, such as pronouns and aspect markers, are pre-verbal.

In examples (1-2) below, the incompletive aspect marker 'n' and the relational aspect marker 'ti' precede the verbs 'sis6' and 'k~w( Y respectively. In both cases the sentences would be ungrammatical if the aspect markers were to follow the main verbs, as in examples (lb-2b) indicate,

.2.2.1 The Incomn~letive Aspect
(1) Mo 1i sis6.
'I am working/was working.'


(1b) *Mo si.Lo n.
'I am working/was working.'

2.2.2 The Relational Aspect

(2) 0 ti kAWO tAn.
2pS RELATIONAL read+book finish 'You have finished reading/studying.'

(2b) *0 kwO tAn. ti.
2pS read+book finish RELATIONAL
'You have finished reading/studying.'

The ungrammaticality of examples (1b) and (2b) stems from the fact that there is a violation of word order. In both instances, the aspect markers 'n' and 'ti' are placed after the verbs 'sis' and 'kAw6 tn'. The position of aspect markers is obligatorily pre-verbal, so they cannot be placed postverbally under any circumstance.

2.2.3 The Habitual + Post-verbal Time Marker

The next two sentences provide examples of adverbial time marking. In

(3) the idea of time is provided only by the adverb 'l6joojum6' (daily); in (4) it is the adverb '161a' that provides us with definite time frame for the performance of the activity in question. In both sentences, the aspect markers 'm" n' and 'yi6' do not provide us with any sense of time. In fact, sentence (3) could have both a present and a past interpretation, depending on the context of usage. It could mean either "You work everyday" or "You used to work everyday (in the past)". Thus, the issue here is not that of time but rather of the internal structure of the activity. Likewise, example (4) has nothing to do with tense and everything to do with intentionality. It means that the speakers intend to do something. It is the addition of '161a' to it that frames it in time and gives it a future interpretation.


(3) f. m a fi sis (LOJOOJUMO..)
2pP HABITUAL work everyday
'You work everyday/used to work everyday.'

2.2.4 The Intentional + Post-verbal Time Marker

(4) Awa )46 JQ si Q5o (LQLA.)
lpP INTENTIONAL go DIRECT Oyo tomorrow
'We will go to Oyo tomorrow.'

2.2.5 Completive Aspect + Pre-verbal Time Marker (Introducing a Focus)

In examples (5-6) the time adverbs 'ldniA' and '161a' have been focused, to signal a focus construction. In these examples, the adverbs of time have replaced the pronouns 'w6n' and 'a' in the subject position to indicate the speaker's intention to emphasize the time frame in which the activity was or would be performed.

(5) (LANAA,) won IQ si IbdAn.
Yesterday, 3pP go DIRECTIONAL Ibadan
'Yesterday, they went to Ibadan.'

2.2.6 The Anticipative + Pre-verbal Time Marker (Focus)

(6) (LQLA,) a mAa $e irinAjo.
Tomorrow lpP ANTICIP do journey
'Tomorrow, we might/probably will travel.'

As amply demonstrated in the introductory part of this chapter, time (or tense) is not of utmost importance in YL, as aspect is, which is obligatorily marked. Aspect is important conceptually and syntactically obligatory. The omission of an aspect marker in a YL sentence does not mean that aspect is not present, but rather that the completive aspect is meant (cf. section 2.2.5 &



2.2.7 The Comoietive Aspect

The completive aspect is generally unmarked in syntax, as the following example indicates:

(7) Mo jqun.
ipS eat
11 ate'.'

In the above example, there is no overt marking for aspect. The first person personal pronoun 'Mo' (1) is immediately followed by the verb 'jeun' (to eat). However, the sentence has a completive interpretation. The activity of eating has both begun and ended; it is full and complete. There is nothing to be added to or taken away from it, as would have been the case with the incompletive aspect, which describes an activity still in progress.

2.3 Asnect in Yoruba

Overall there are twelve identifiable aspects in YL which can be further categorized into two types: simple and complex aspects. The simple aspect series consists of five aspects. Four of these are marked by single aspect markers while one is the unmarked. The complex aspect series consists of seven sequences of combinations of the simple aspects. Five of them are a series of two simple aspects co-occuring in a syntactically constrained order while two are a complex of three simple aspects, also co-occuring in a syntactically constrained order. Like I have mentioned earlier and will discuss in greater detail shortly, aspect is of utmost importance in YL and is obligatory, so much so that even when it is not overfly marked in syntax, it is still assumed to be present, in an unmarked form (cf. completive aspect in 2.2.7 and 2.3.2. 1).


2.3.1 Aspect Constraints On Person Marking And Pronoun Selection

In YL, subject pronoun selection is partially determined by aspect.

There are basically two types of subject pronouns: regular and emphatic (also referred to in the literature as pronominals due to the similarity of their behavior to nouns). Both forms of the pronoun can occur in subject position before the VP, with certain restrictions on the regular pronouns. The regular pronouns, for example, cannot occur before an interrogative sentence ending with the interrogative and locative verbs 'dIA' and 'nk6' and the subsequent responses to these questions(cf. examples 8-11b). They also do not occur before the existence verb, 'ni' and the non-existence verb, 'k6', (cf. 12-15b) nor in compound NP structures, using a conjunction (cf. 16-18b). Above all, they cannot occur before the intentional aspect 'yi6' (cf. 19-20b), albeit they are acceptable before the alternative form 'V, which is probably a contracted form of 'yi6'. The anticipative aspect 'mJa' is the preferred form, however, in such instances (cf. section & In all of the above mentioned instances, only the emphatics may be used.

Regular and Emphatic Pronouns + Interrogative Verb:*~

In examples (8-8b) below, the use of the regular pronoun before the

interrogative verb 'MA is ungrammatical, but replacing the regular pronoun with the emphatic makes it acceptable. The same analysis is true for examples

(9) and (9b), where the regular pronoun 'W6n' must be replaced by the emphatic 'Awon' to make the sentence grammatically acceptable.

(8) *0 d
(8b) IWQ CIA?
'Where is she/he/it?'


(9) *W n dA?

(9b) AwQn dh?
'Where are they?'

Regular and Emphatic Pronouns + Interrogative Verb: nk6

In the following examples, the interrogative verb 'nk6' cannot cooccur with the regular forms of the pronoun subject 'A'and 'Mo' (10, 11); only the emphatic forms of the pronoun, 'Awa' and 'Emi' (10b, 11b), are acceptable.

(10) *A dfko?

(10b) Awa iko?
'What about us?/And us?'
(11) *Mo ffk6 ?

(11b) Emi ffk6?
'What about me?/And me?'

Regular and Emphatic Pronouns + Presentative Verbs: "ni" and "k6"

Likewise, the regular pronouns are not acceptable before both the affirmative and negative forms of the so-called presentative verb. The examples below will illustrate my point.

(12) *Mo ni Temi.
lpS(RP) be Tmi

(12b) Emi ni T&mi.
1pS(EP) be T& mi
'I am Thmi/My name is Tmi.'

In (12) above, the sentence is ungrammatical because the presentative verb 'ni' is not permitted to select a regular pronoun. (12b) is grammatical


because 'ni' is preceded by the emphatic form of the first person singular subject pronoun '&mi'. In (13 & 13b) below, the same rule is applicable to the negative form of the verb 'ni'. As in the affirmative form, 'k6' is allowed to select only the emphatic form of the pronoun. The same explanation for (1212b) goes for examples (14-15b).

(13) *Mo ko (ni) Tmi.
lpS(RP) NEGbe (be) Timi

(13b) Emi ko (ni) T&ni.
lpS(RP) NEGbebe Temi
I am not Temi.

(14) *0 ni.
2pS(RP) be

(14b) Iwq ni.
2pS(EP) be
'It's you.'
(15) *0 k#.

(15b) Iwq ko.
'It isn't you.'

Regular and Emphatic Pronouns + Compound NP Structures

The regular subject pronoun forms (16, 17 and 18) cannot occur in a compound NP structure using a conjunction, as illustrated in the examples below. Compound NP structures require the use of emphatic pronouns, as we find in (16b, 17b and 18b). The regular pronoun forms make examples (16, 17 and 18) ungrammatical, as illustrated below.

(16) *Mo Ati o foo si#.
lpS(RP) and 2pS(RP) want work

(16b) Emi 4ti bun foo siso.
1pS(EP) and 2pS(EP) want work
'She/He and I want to work.'


(17) *E pe'l won foo jqun.
2pP(RP) with/and 3pP(RP) want eat

(17b) fyin plu AwQn foo jcun.
2pP(EP) with/and 2pP(EP) want eat
'You and they want to eat.'

(18) *Ta ni, o tabi 6?
Who be 2ps(RP) or 3pS(RP)

(18b) Ta ni, iwQ thbi bun?
Who be, 2pS(EP) or 3pS(EP)
'Who is it, she/he or you?'

Finally, there is a syntactic constraint that does not permit the intentional aspect 'yi6' to select the personal pronoun subject, a clear indication that aspect also determines the choice of pronoun. Thus the intentional aspect 'yi6' selects only the emphatic pronoun, while the other aspect markers can select either the regular or the emphatic pronoun. However, when they do select the emphatic it is generally for purposes of emphasis. Thus sentences (21-22) below are grammatical, while sentence (1920) aren't. Intentional Aspect + Regular Pronoun

(19) *Mo yi6 lQ si ild-iwd.

(20) Wn y46 1 si ild-iwd.
3pP(RP) INTEN go DIREC school Intentional + Emphatic Pronoun
(21) EMI y6 1 si ild-iwe.
lpS(EP) INTEN go DIREC school
'I intend to go to school.'

(22) AWON yi6 lo si ild-iw6.
3pP(EP) INTEN go DIREC school
'They intend to go to school.'


Examples (19-20) above are ungrammatical because the intentional

aspect 'yi6' selects the regular pronoun 'mo' and 'w6n', which cannot cooccur with the intentional. A table of the two types of subject pronoun in YL is also given below.

Person Nlumber Prnu J= Pronoun LTyne

Reua Fmatic

1st Singular mo emi

2nd o iwo

3rd 6 6un

1st Plural a atwa

2nd e 6yin

3rd w6n Awon

The above table shows clearly that YL pronouns are marked for both

person (1st, 2nd & 3rd) and number (singular & plural) but not for gender. The third person of both singular and plural could refer to either female or male, human or non-human. Thus the third person singular '6' could mean any of she, he or it. For every form of the regular pronoun there is a corresponding emphatic pronoun. In fact, a closer scrutiny reveals that the regular forms might have been derived from the emphatic or pronominal forms. This is probably why linguists like Ogunbowale (1970) prefer to call the regular pronouns "short forms" and the emphatic as "full forms", suggesting that the shorter forms must have been derived from the longer or "full" forms.

Bamgbose (1967) sees the emphatic pronouns as "a noun which

resembles a pronoun" (p. 11) and refers to them as "pronominals", making


allusion to their ambivalent nature. Other linguists have called them "independent pronouns", due to their ability to also play the role of nouns in certain contexts (ibid.). Bamgbose's stance is that they are indeed nouns, due to their ability to take qualifiers and their tonal behavior which is similar to that of nouns. Recognizing their role in emphasis, Bamgbose adds that they "act as emphatic equivalents of pronouns" (ibid.). But he insists that they are more than just pronouns due to the fact that they can substitute for pronouns where the regular pronouns cannot occur in syntax (i.e. in the instances already mentioned above). Completive Aspect + Regular Pronoun

In the sentences that follow, examples are provided of instances when various aspect markers cooccur, first with the regular pronouns, then with the emphatic pronouns. In examples (23-24), the completive aspect (unmarked) cooccurs with the first and second person regular subject pronouns 'Mo' and '0' respectively.

(23) AD IQ si 116S-i w6.
ips go DIIRiC school
'I went to school.'

(24) 0 IQ Si 116-i w6.
2pS go DIREC school
'You went to school.' Completive Asnect + Emphatic Pronoun

In the next two examples (25-26), the two sentences above (23-24) are repeated, but this time the emphatic pronoun is used in place of the regular pronouns. The only difference in these examples and the previous ones is simply that of emphasis -- the speaker is emphasized in (25-26).


(25) EMI 1Q si ild-iwe.
1pS EMPH go DIREC school
'I indeed did go to school.'

(26) IWQ 1Q sf il-iwd.
2pS go DIREC school
'You indeed did go to school.' Relational Aspect + Regular Pronoun

In the following two examples, the relational aspect 'ti' occurs with the third and second person regular pronouns 'W6n' and 'E' respectively.

(27) MYV ti IQ si ild-iwd.
3pP RELAT go DIREC. school
'They have gone to school.'

(28) .E ti lQ si il-iwd.
2pP RELAT go DIREC school
'You have gone to school.' Relational Aspect + Emphatic Pronoun

In examples (29-30) we have the emphatic forms of the pronouns in

(27-28) above, an indication that the relational aspect can cooccur with either forms of the pronouns, the only difference being the emphasis that the latter add to the statements through the use of the pronominals or emphatics.

(29) AWQN ti 19 si il-iwd.
3pP EMPH REIAT go DIREC school
'They indeed have gone to school.'

(30) YIN ti 1 si ild-iwd.
2pP EMPH REIAT go DIREC school
'I indeed have gone to school.' Habitual Aspect + Regular Pronoun

In (31) the habitual aspect occurs with the second person singular regular pronoun 'o' while in (32) it occurs with the third person plural regular pronoun 'w6n'.


(31) O mAa i 1Q si ild-iwd.
2pS HABITUAL go DIREC. school
'She/he (habitually) goes to school/went to school.'

(32) WOn mda ii 1o si ild-iwd.
3pP HABITUAL go DIREC school
'They habitually go to school/went to school.' Habitual + Emphatic Pronoun

In the next examples, the emphatic forms of the pronouns in (31-32) are used to show that the habitual can select either the regular or the emphatic forms ('iwo' and 'Awon') of the same pronouns (33-34). Again, the difference is mainly that of emphasis--the emphatics are used to bring an added emphasis to the subject of the sentences.

(33) IWQ mda ii IQ si il-iwd.
'She/he indeed goes/went (habitually) to school.'

(34) AWON mda iiq si ild-iwd.
'They indeed go to school/went to school.' Antecedent Completion + Regular Pronoun

In examples (35-36) below, we have instances of the occurrence of

forms of the regular pronoun occuring with the antecedent completion aspect (mna n).

(35) A ti mda i IQ si ile-iwe.
lpP ANTE COMP go DIREC school
'We used to have gone to school.'

(36) E. ti mda i IQ si ild-iwd.
2pP ANTE COMP go DIREC school
'You used to have gone to schooL'

56 Antecedent Completion + Emphatic Pronoun

In sentences (37-38) the emphatic forms of the first and second person plural regular pronouns (A and E) cooccur with the antecedent completion aspect.

(37) AWA ti maa fi IQ si ile-iwj.
'We (indeed) used to have gone to school.'

(38) fYIN ti mda i IQ si il -iw.
'You (indeed) used to have gone to school.'

The examples above indicate that although the intentional must of

necessity select the emphatic, the other aspect markers can select either the regular pronoun forms or the emphatic forms (for purposes of emphasis). This goes for both the simple (19-30) and complex (31-38) aspects, as the sentences above amply illustrate.

2.3.2 The Simple Asoect Series

There are five identifiable simple aspects in YL: the completive aspect which is unmarked, the incompletive 'n', the relational 'ti', the anticipative 'maa', and the intentional 'yi6'. It is these simple aspects which combine in their various forms to produce the complex aspects. The Comoletive Asrect (Unmarked)

The unmarked form of the verb indicates a completed action. Some

linguists (cf. Comrie 1976: 82) have sought to exclude stative verbs from this aspect form by using a stative/active dichotomy, under the rubric of perfective/imperfective opposition. In such analyses, active verbs (See examples 39-41 below) are classified as having perfective meaning, while


stative verbs (42-44) are classified as having imperfective meaning. I, however, believe that the completive ('perfective' in Comrie's classification) includes both the active and stative forms of the verb. My reason for this allinclusive classification is that in (42-44) the states of 'wanting,' 'knowing' and 'having' something is complete. In (43) my knowledge of the third person is complete, while in (42) and (44), the states of 'wanting' and 'having' are also full, or complete. It is in this sense that I believe that the completive should include both active and stative forms of the verb.

The completive aspect constitutes the unmarked form of the aspect

system. It is therefore to be noted that in YL, even when you don't mark aspect, it still is an aspect. The following examples will amply illustrate my point.

(39) Mo Jo Si i-iwi.
lpS go DIREC school
'I went to school.'

(40) A jeun.
lpP eat
'We ate.'

(41) E fiso.
2pP work
'You worked.'

(42) Won fo ow6.
3pP want money 'They want money.'

(43) Mo mo Q.
IpS know 3pS
'I know her/him/it.'

(44) Mo ni ilM.
lpS have house
'I have a house.'

It is to be observed in the above examples that, by default, the unmarked form of the verb (39-44) is automatically given a completive interpretation,


whether it be stative or non-stative verb. I therefore consider the completive aspect the first in the series of the simple aspects. The Incompletive Aspect: n

Next in the series of simple aspects is the incompletive /realised by 'n'/. Here, the focus is ongoingness of the activity. As the illustrative examples indicate, the time, past, current, or recent, is not carried by this aspect. The activity could be in progress either in the present or before the present. For example, (45-47) could be rendered both in the present or in the past, in the absence of context or adverbs indicating time. If we must insist on the knowledge of time, then we must rely on the discourse context surrounding the statement (where a context is provided) or on time adverbials, such as are provided in (48-50) below. In (48), the adverb 'bAyii' situates the activity in a present time frame, whereas in (49-50), the past time frame of the activities involved is provided by the time adverbials lMnaa' and '1.kan' respectively.

(45) Mo d It) si Qji.
ipS INCOM go DIREC. market
'I am going/was going to the market.'

(46) W(5n i sis.
3pP INCOM work
'They are busy/were busy working.'

(47) A ri Q nigbAt" 0 li IQ Sue.
lpP see you when you INCOM go DIREC+home
'We saw you when you were going home.'

(48) Mo d IQ Si Qja BA YI.
IpS INCOM go DIREC market now
'I am going to the market right now.'

(49) f n" io LANAA.
2pP INCOM work yesterday 'You were working yesterday.'

(50) A ri Q nigbi o d IQ ili LEEKAN.
lpP see you when you INCOM go home a while ago
'We saw you when you were going home a short while ago.'

59 The Relational: ti

The relational aspect describes an event or activity that is not complete, with reference to an ongoing event. It is thus incomplete in relation to another activity or event. In the examples below, although an activity has taken place, its relevance or effect is still ongoing. For instance, in example

(51), although the speaker has performed the act of going to school, it is understood that she is still in school and has not yet returned home. The same explanation goes for (52) and (53). In (52), the speakers, or subjects of the sentence, have arrived from school. The act of arrival is still felt at the moment of speech. They have not returned to school yet, but are still in the arrival mode. In (53), although the activity of eating has taken place sometime before the moment of speech, its effect is still being felt and is still considered incomplete with reference to other activity or event at the moment of utterance.

(51) 0 ti IQ si ile-iwo.
'She has gone to school/She went to school.'

(52) A ti d6.
ipP REIAT arrive
'We have arrived/We are here.'
(53) f ti fiun.
2pP RELAT. eat
'You have eaten/You ate.' The Irrealis Aspects

In the same manner that there is a realis completive (cf. and incompletive (cf., there is likewise an irrealis completive and incompletive. The irrealis aspects comprise two simple tenses: the anticipative, 'mda' and the intentional, 'yW6'. Whereas 'mAa' describes an anticipated event or activity, 'yi6' gives completeness to the anticipation in 'mAa'. Thus, 'yi6' is a


type of completive, an irrealis completive, while lmda' is an irrrealis incompletive, by virtue of the incompleteness of the knowledge involved (cf. (54-56)). With the intentional, the knowledge is full and complete (cf. (57-60)). I will be describing these two aspects in greater detail in the next two sections. The Anticipative:

The anticipative is the first in the series of the irrealis aspects. With the anticipative, we have an activity that is non-existent but likely to take place. It is non-completive, not ongoing, and though it is likely to happen, we do not know for sure. It can therefore be used in predicting, planning, or speculation.

In the following examples, the activities have not yet taken place, and though the speakers have verbally made their intentions known about these "yet to take place" activities, there is nothing that guarantees that they surely will perform those activities. In (56) for instance, although the speaker expects and anticipates that the visitors in question will make the visit, she cannot be completely certain if they will indeed make it. In (54), the speaker anticipates, has plans or desires to go to the farm. This plan may or may not be realized, depending on the circumstances or other unpredictable factors. Thus it indicates a yearning, a desiring to do something. Similarly in (55), the speakers have some plans to go to the stream on the day in question, a plan that may or may not be realized. The main difference between this aspect and the next one--the intentional--is that whereas with the intentional the speaker exercises control over the actions to be performed, with the anticipative she has no control, or better still, does not exercise control (through the power of the will). One can therefore say that with the anticipative, there is a lack or an absence of will power.


(54) Mo mAa IQ si oko.
IpS ANTI go DIREC farm
'I will go to the farm/I might go to the farm/I have plans to go to
the farm.'

(55) A mAa IQ si ocb 16nii.
lpP ANTI go DIREC stream today
'We will/might go to the stream today/We have plans to go to the
stream today.'

(56) W5n miAna wd ki wa.
3pP ANTI come greet us
'They will/might come to visit us/They have plans to come and
visit us.' The Intentional: 3i6

The intentional is very similar to the anticipative in that both refer to activities that are non existent but likely. In fact, it is the second in the series of the irrrealis aspects, which comprise the anticipative and the intentional (cf. The main difference between them is that whereas the anticipative 'mra' has a decisiveness to it, the intentional 'yi6' has a certain intentionality to it--the object of the utterance is focalized for intention. Thus it has to do with the will of the speaker. It is something she has made up her mind about. It also denotes that the speaker has control over the performance of the activity in question, and has weighed all the options before making the decision.

It is important to note, too, that the syntax of 'mAa' is different from that of 'yi6' (cf. While 'mAa' co-occurs with the regular pronouns, 'yi6' can only occur with the emphatic pronoun. Thus, 'yi6' has to be agented, with a force of will to come to pass. The will of the speaker has to be involved, and this requires the attributes of an agent to be emphasized. Below, in example

(57), the speaker-agent is determined to go to school, a determination that comes from the force of the will. What the speaker is saying, in practical terms is "I have made up my mind to go to school, come what may. I have made up my


mind about it." Similarly, in (59), the speakers have determined to complete the assigned work on the day of the utterance. They are saying in essence, "We have considered all the options and have come to the conclusion that this job must and will be completed by us today." In (58) the speaker has the privileged knowledge about a firm decision taken by a third person to buy a car that year, although she may not have any ability or power to make them do it. The speaker has power only over her own decisions and it is likely for this reason that in the second and third persons, although the emphatic form of the pronoun is preferred, the regular form of the pronoun is also allowed. However, in the first person, only the emphatic form of the pronoun may be used, as already explained in sections 2.3. 1. 1. and above. The explanation for (58) is equally applicable to (60) in which second persons are involved.

(57) EMI yi6 IQ Si i1&iiwe.
ipS INTEN go DIREC school
I intend to go to school/ I have made up my mind to go
to school/ I have willingly chosen to go to school.

(58) OUN yf 6 ra m(5t0 ni Qdun yii.
2pS INTEN buy car PREP year this
'She intends to buy a car this year.'

(59) AWA yf6 par! i$0 yif l6nif.
lpP INTEN finish work this today 'We intend to finish/complete this job today.'

(60) fYIN yf6 w~i ki wa I(ia.
2 pP ITEN come greet us tomorrow
'You intend to come and greet/visit us tomorrow.'

The examples given for the five simple aspects above provide insight

into the internal workings of the YL verb. Each shows a different aspect of the performance of the same activity. Obligatory inflections of the verb are done by aspectual markers. It is therefore obvious that aspect is syntactically obligatory in YL sentences.


These clitics co-occur in a grammatically constrained order. Any

combination is possible except those containing 'yi6' and 'n'. These two are mutually exclusive. Table 2.2 below presents a comprehensive list of all the sequences of combination in the language, which can be summarized by the simple formula ((((yi6) + (((((ti)) + ((mda)))) + (n)))).

Table 2.2

i. yi6 ti

ii. yi6 ti mAa

iii. yi6 m.a

iv. ti m.a

v. ti mra

vi. ti

vii. mAa

2.3.3 The Complex Aspect Series

There are seven complex aspects in YL, each of them a combination of the simple aspects. Below are the combinations or co-occurences that make up the complex aspect series. Five of these complex aspects combine two simple aspects, while two consist of three simple aspects. Included in the first category are the backgrounder (yi6 ti), the inceptive (yi6 mra), the manifestive (ti mAa), the relevant-inceptive (ti n) and the habitual (mAa n). The second category of complex aspects comprises the expective (yi6 ti mAa) and antecedent completion (ti mda n). Below are a couple of illustrative examples of how the simple aspects combine to produce the complex aspects. In the next section I will be defining and giving several examples to illustrate the various aspects and how they operate in syntax. For now, however, I will limit


my consideration to the two- and three-part structures referred to above. In example (61), the anticipative 'm.ta' combines with the incompletive 'n' to derive the habitual 'mta n'.

(61) Mo maa zi wO 16joojum0.
ipS HABITUAL bathe daily
'I bathe daily/everyday.'

In example (62), the relational 'Iti', the anticipative 'nma' and the incompletive 'n' combine to derive the complex that I call the antecedent completion. These two aspects, as well as all of the others mentioned previously will be further discussed in the succeeding sections.

(62) A ti m~a Ii io tAn ki won t6 d.
lpP ANT COMP work finish before 3pP PART arrive 'We used to have finished working before they arrived.' Backgrounder: Intentional/Decisive + Relational

The first in the series of the complex aspects is the BACKGROUNDER 'yi6 ti'. This is derived from the combination of the INTENTIONAL 'yi6' and the RELATIONAL 'ti'. It provides a background to another action that is yet to take place. It is important to mention, at this juncture, that every complex aspect that begins with 'yi6' must of necessity be preceded by an agent focuser, as exemplified in the sentences below (cf. above.) Thus the explanation for 'yi6' as well as the constraints that go with it also applies to the BACKGROUNDER.

In the following examples, the backgrounder aspect operates within the main clause to provide a background to the event described in the subordinate clause that is introduced by 'ki' (before). In (63) for instance, the speaker, also the subject of the main clause, expects to have completed work before the arrival of the subject of the subordinate clause. She has resolved, having made


a decision by her will power to finish the work before the second person arrives on the scene. The same explanation is true for the remaining three examples, where 'yi6 ti' provides a background to the succeeding event in the sentence.

(63) Emi yi6 ti i tAn ki o tO de
lpS BACKGRD work finished before 2pS PARTICLE arrive
'I definitely will have finished working before you arrive.'

(64) Awa y16 ti IQ ki t6 pad.
lpP BACKGRD go before 2pP PART arrive
'We definitely/surely will have left before you return.'

(65) Oun yi6 ti sun ki o t6 joun tAn.
3pS BACKGRD sleep before 2pS PART eat finish
'He surelywill have slept before you finish eating.'

(66) IwQ yi6 ti gbA1o ki a t0 etAn.
2pS BACKGRD. sweep before lpP PART do+finish
'You surely will have swept the floor before we are ready.'

As an additional emphasis on the expected completion of the first event or activity prior to the second one, "tAn" (finish) is sometimes postposed to the main verb of the first clause (if it is a punctual verb), as example (63) illustrates. In this example, 'tAn' is not obligatory in the main clause, but is included for added emphasis on the intended completion of the main event prior to the second one. Thus, although "tdn" could be suffixed to the verbs in

(63) and (66), it cannot be added to the verbs 'lo' and 'sun' in (64) and (65) because "go" and "sleep" are not punctual activities. Expective: Intentional+ Relational +Anticipative

The EXPECTIVE 'yi6 ti mAa' is a combination of three aspect markers, the intentional 'yi6', the relational 'ti' and the anticipative 'mAna'. It describes an activity that will have begun and still be ongoing before another one takes place. It is actually a complex of the backgrounder and the anticipative


aspects. Whereas with the backgrounder aspect (Section the subject of the main clause intends to have completed the job at hand prior to the arrival of the subject of the subordinate clause, with the expective, she expects to have begun working prior to and would still be working when the subject of the second clause arrives on the scene. Thus, the work would have begun sometime before the arrival of the second person and would still be continuing and be ongoing while she arrives. Thus, whereas the backgrounder deals with an event that would have begun and have been completed before another event, the expective deals with an event that would have begun and would still be ongoing before a second event takes place. It should be observed that because of their basic differences, the EL translations provided below, being an attempt to capture the meaning of the YL combinations, may not necessarily to sound grammatical.

(67) Emi yi6 ti maa i k" o t6 dd
I EXPECTIVE work before 2pS PART arrive
'I will have/expect to have started working before you arrive.'

(68) IwQ yf6 ti m4a kv.we ki a t6 ii.
2pS EXPECTIVE read before lpP PART wake up
'You will have been reading before we wake up.'

(69) F'yin yi6 ti mAa gb,10 ki a t6 $etan.
2pP EXPECTIVE sweep before we PART finish
'You will have been sweeping before we finish.' Incentive: Intentional/Decisive + Anticipative

The INCEPTIVE aspect is one of the important highlights of my analysis of YL aspectual categories, in that the two simple aspects that make up this complex aspect have been analyzed by almost all previous YL linguists as one and the same, whether they were classified as tenses (as in Bamgbose 1966, 1967; Ogunbowale 1970) or as aspects (as in Amoran 1986). The fact that both aspects can combine to form a complex aspect is a clear indication that both


cannot be one and the same. If they were synonymous, their combination must of necessity be redundant and meaningless. The very possibility of both of them combining in syntax to create another (complex) aspect points to the fact that they must, by all means, be different and separate aspects, rather than simple synonymous alternates of a single aspect.

The INCEPTIVE, 'yi6 mAa' is derived from two irrealis aspects: the

intentional 'yi6' and the anticipative 'maa'. It describes an activity that is yet to begin but which the speaker has decided to embark upon shortly. Thus, the subject of sentence (70) has made a decision--and it is this power of decision making that is involved which makes me feel that the "Decisive" is also an appropriate name for this aspect--by exercising the power of the Will, to leave. There is an anticipation, informed by a decision, to embark upon the process of leaving the place of utterance. A similar analysis goes for the other two examples in (7 1-72) where the enunciators of the utterances have made decisions, using the power of their volition to move from point A to point B. In all instances, though, the activities in question have not yet been performed. They are at the inceptive point.

(70) Emi yi6 mia IQ.
'I will be leaving/I have made up my mind about leaving any
time from now/I anticipate leaving any moment from now due to
an exercise of my will and volition.'

(71) Awa yf6 m~a $iw.1iju yfn IQ.
(lpP INCEPTIVE precede 2pP go)
'We will be going ahead of you/We have decided to go on ahead of you and do intend to begin to do so right now/ any moment from

(72) Oun yf6 m~a W~ wa l(5ni.
3pS INCEPTIVE meet lpP on +way
'She will be meeting us ahead/We anticipate that she will
soon embark on the process of meeting us on the way because we
are aware of her decision to do so.,

68 Manifestive: Relational + Anticinative

The MANIFESTIVE 'Iti maa' combines the relational 'ti' and the

anticipative 'maa'. This sequence describes an activity that would have started prior to another one. Whereas in the previous aspect (the inceptive), the activity, though decided upon and expected to take place is yet to begin, in the manifestive the activity is expected to have begun and be ongoing before the second event takes place. This aspect is similar, in many ways, to the expective, the main difference between the two being that with the expective there is a quality decision taken, through the power of the will, thus providing a sense of certainty to the performance of the activity. With the manifestive, on the other hand, everything borders more on a desire to perform the activity. In

(73) below, the speaker expects, desires, intends to have begun working and to keep on doing so by the time the subject of the second clause arrives on the scene. The work would have begun and be ongoing when the other person arrives. In contrast to the backgrounder (cf., where the first activity is expected to have terminated before the second event, the activity here would still be going on by the time the second event takes place.

(73) Mo ti m~a siso lI o t6 &J.
I MANIFESTIVE work before 2pS PART arrive
'I will/may have started working before you arrive.'

(74) A ti m1a IQ ki o t6 d6
lpP MANIFEST go before 2ps PART arrive.
'We will/may have left before you arrive.'

(75) Won ti m.4a j~un ki a t6 $etAn.
3pP MANIFEST eat before lpP PART finish
'They will/may have eaten before we get ready.' Antecedent Comtletion: Relational + Anticipative + Incomtnletive

The ANTECEDENT COMPLETION 'ti mra n' is a combination of three aspect markers, viz the relational 'ti', the anticipative 'mAa' and the incompletive 'n'.


It can also be seen as the addition of incompleteness to the manifestive aspect, which combines the relational and the anticipative, but without the incompletive. This complex sequence describes an action that used to have been completed, on a regular basis, prior to another activity. Whereas the manifestive describes an activity that would have started prior to another one, the antecedent completion describes an activity or event that took place regularly before another one over a period of time prior to the moment of utterance. The next examples capture the complexity of this aspect. In (76), the subject of the main clause used to have completed working on a regular basis over an unspecified period of time in the past, prior to the arrival of the subject of the subordinate clause. In (77), the activity of eating used to have been performed prior to the departure of the subject of the second clause, and that on a regular basis. Again, as with the examples in the backgrounder aspect, the verb "tdn" is usually postposed to the main verb of the main clause to add a note of finality to the completion of the activity in the main clause prior to the one described in the subordinate clause. In both of (76) and (77) "Umn" is added to the main verb of the first clause to emphasize the completion of the first activity prior to the second one, however it will be redundant to do the same to the verb of the main clause in (78) because by its very nature 'pan' (finish, complete) carries with it a note of completion and finality. It therefore does not need the help of the verb "U~n", which carries a synonymous meaning.

(76) Mo ti m~a .6 $ to n ki 0 06 de.
ipS ANTE COMP work finish before you PART arrive
'I used to have finished working before you arrived.'

(77) W(5n ti mAan jqun t~n kf a t0 IQ.
3pP ANTE COMP eat finish before lpP PART go
'They used to have finished eating before we left.'


(7 8) ti mla ii parY iso kf a 0 boro.
2pP ANTE COMP finish work before lpP PART begin
'You used to have finished working before we began.' Relevant-Incel2tiveo Relational + Incompletive

The next complex aspect is the RELEVANT-INCEPTIVE 'ti n'. This aspect is a combination of the relational 'ti' and the incompletive W. It describes an activity that has or had just started but is or was still on-going before another one. In (79) the speaker has begun the activity anterior to the arrival of the addressee and is still continuing to do so while the latter arrives on the scene. The work, though begun prior to the moment of speech, still has relevance and effect at the moment of speech. Although begun in the past, it carries on into the present. The effect is still felt and continues to be felt at the moment of the arrival of the subject of the second clause. Most likely, the arrival of the addressee must have interrupted the activity. In (80), the subjects of the main clause had been sleeping and still would have been sleeping without the interruption of the subjects of the subordinate clause. The act of sleeping carried on into the moment of speech and probably was interrupted with the arrival of the persons in the second clause. Similarly, in (81), the subject of the subordinate met that of the main clause busy washing at the stream. Thus in the antecedent completion the event in the main clause began at some time before the event introduced in the second clause. Although it began sometime before the time of utterance, its effect remained and probably will continue after the moment of interruption. The difference between this aspect and the antecedent completion is that whereas in the latter the activity is completed before the one described in the second clause, in the relevant-inceptive, the activity is not completed before the inception of the second one. It is still relevant in the present.


(79) Mo ti ii si. ki o t6 dA
I REL-INCEP work before 2pS PART arrive
'I had begun and was working before you arrived/ I had begun
working and am still at it while you arrive on the scene.'

(80) WOn ti d sun ki a t6 d i1.
3pP REL-INCEP sleep before lpP PART arrive home
'They had already gone to bed and were sleeping before we got

(81) 0 ti f$o nigbti mo de od.
2pS REL-INCEP wash + clothes when lpS arrive stream
'You were washing already/you had been washing when I
arrived at the river.' Habitual: Anticipative + Incompletive

The last aspectual combination, the HABITUAL, 'miaa n', is a sequence of the anticipative 'mAa' and the incompletive 'n'. It describes an activity that was performed on a regular basis prior to the present or is continually performed on a regular basis. It refers to a habitual event or activity, either in a timeless frame or in a past frame. Thus, without the addition of any adverb of time, the habitual could have either a timeless or a past interpretation. Example (82), for instance, could mean either "I used to work" or "I work always, habitually," the latter having no specific time frame of reference. In

(83), the adverb of time '16joojtim6' emphasizes the idea of regularity, but could be located either within a timeless frame or a past, just like example (82) indicates. In (84), the adverbial clause of time "nigb~ti mo wA ni ewe" frames the activity of working within a past time. It describes a regualr activity that took place on a habitual basis over a period of time when the speaker was still a youth. This is, however, no longer true of the speaker at the present moment.

(82) Mo m.1a d $40.
'I work, habitually/I used to work, habitually/ I have or had a
habit of working on a regular and consistent basis.'


(83) Mo maa d io LOJOOJUMQ.
I HABITUAL work everyday
'I work daily/I used to work everyday/It is (was) habitual for me
to work daily'.

(84) Mo ma ii is NIGBATI MO WA NI EWE
ipS HABIT work when ipS be LOCATIVE youth
'I used to work (habitually) when I was young.'

(85) A mIa Io si i1-iw6 NIGBA YIUN.
lpP HABITUAL go DIREC school time that
'We used to go to school then/at that time.'

(86) Mo m.a ii IQ si ils-isin LQSWF_.
ipS HABITUAL go DIREC house of worship weekly 'I go to/ used to go to the house of worship every week.'

It is evident from the above analysis that although various aspectual markers can co-occur, the combinations themselves are aspects in their own right. These I have decided to refer to as complex aspects, to distinguish them from the simple aspects, and in doing so have answered Bolorunduro's question (cf. 2.0) with an affirmation: yes. If YL has simple, it also has complex aspects. These complex combinatorial sequences also help to expand the aspectual repertoire of YL, from what would have originally been just five to twelve in number--more than doubling its size. A careful look at the YL aspects described above reveal that although YL is fundamentally an aspectual language, it still has a way of relating events and activities to time, if and when it is necessary and important to do so. I will be focusing on how YL handles time in a greater detail in a later section (2.5) on time reference. Two Maior Categories of the Complex Aspects

Further scrutiny of the complex aspects reveal that there are two main categories into which they can be subdivided--those that do not involve the RELATIONAL (simple) aspect and occur in simple sentences; and those that do and occur in complex sentences. Those that do not are two in number: the


INCEPTIVE, 'yi6 maa' and the HABITUAL, 'mla n' and those that do are five: the BACKGROUNDER 'yi6 ti', the EXPECTIVE 'yi6 ti mba', the MANIFESTIVE 't mda', the ANTECEDENT COMPLETION 'ti maa n' and the RELEVANT-INCEPTIVE 'ti n'. In the next two subsections, I will be examining these two subcategories of the complex aspects. Complex Aspects Involving the RELATIONAL Aspect

The complex aspects involving the relational aspect are as follows: the BACKGROUNDER (Intentional + Relational), the EXPECTIVE (Intentional + Relational + Anticipative), the MANIFESTIVE (Relational + Anticipative), the ANTECEDENT COMPLETION (Relational + Anticipative + Incompletive) and the RELEVANT-INCEPTIVE (Relational + Incompletive). These complex constructions are found primarily in complex sentences and generally require the use of the preposition 'ki' (before) and the verbal particle 't6' (be enough, be sufficient, be adequate, etc.), a clear indication that all the simple aspects that make up these complex aspects must relate to one another as well as relate the various component events or activities of the sentence/other clauses to each other. In the next few sections I will be illustrating how the relational aspect operates in the context of these complex sentences. The Backgrounder: Intentional + RELATIONal

The backgrounder (See section for more details) combines the RELATIONAL with the intentional aspects. Examples (87-88) show how this combination operates in syntax.

(87) Emi y16 ti sfin ki o t6 d6
ipS INT + RELA sleep before 2pS PART arrive
'I definitely will have slept before you return.'


(88) Awa y16 ti jqun thin kf e t6 IQ.
1pP INT + REA eat finish before 2pP PART go
'We definitely will have finished eating before you leave.'

Examples (87) and (88) are both complex sentences comprising a main clause and a subordinate clause. The subordinate clauses are introduced by the preposition 'ki' (before) and their subjects are immediately followed by the verbal particle 't6'. The verbal particle 't6' could have any of the following interpretations -- "be adequate, be sufficient, be enough, reach limit". Each of these words have in their meanings a sense of "fullness" and "completeness". The verb 'td.n' in (88) also has a sense of completeness inherent in its meaning. In both instances, the main clause (containing the aspect markers) provides a background to the event described in the subordinate clause. Both clauses are related one to the other and neither can stand on its own and still be meaningful. The RELATIONAL 'U'l is a major player in this configuration, due to its nature as the aspect that relates one action, event or activity to another (cf. section on this aspect). The Exnective: Intentional + RELATIONAL + Anticipative

The expective (cf. made up of three simple aspects: the

RELATIONAL, along with the intentional and the anticipative. As with the backgrounder, the simple aspects combining together here are connected to each other by the RELATIONAL, 'ti'. It coordinates the relationship among all three aspects, a relationship that establishes the very definition of the expective-if it is completive and relational, then it can be expected, though related to other elements in the sentence. The examples below will illustrate how this operates in the sentence,


(89) Eni yi6 ti m wO ki 4 t6 d6 oh un.
lpS INT+RELA+ANTI bathe before 2pP PART arrive there
'I surely will have started bathing before you get there.'

(90) 1fyin yi6 ti nAa "w6 ki a t6 pad.A d6.
2pP INT+RLAI+ANTI read before lpP PART return
'You definitely will have begun reading before we return.'

Once again, we see in the above examples all of the common elements we found in the backgrounder: ki' and 't6', and both of them playing important roles in the two clauses that make up the sentences. Again, the relationship between the main and subordinate clauses is signaled in the main clause by 'Iti', the relational aspect marker and established firmly by the preposition, 'k' in the subordinate clause. The Manifestive: RELATIONAL + Anticipative

Third in the series of complex aspects incorporating the relational is the manifestive (cf. which combines the RELATIONAL and the anticipative aspects. Examples (91-92) reveal the internal workings of this complex aspect. Here, as in the two aspects treated above, it is the relational 'ti' which establishes the foundation of the relationship between the two clauses that make up the manifestive. The preposition 'ki' in the subordinate clause only serves to strengthen this bond already signaled by 'ti' in the main clause.

(91) Won ti mia iso IQ li a t6 d6 Ek6.
2pP RELAT+ANTI work go before lpP PART reach Lagos
'They will be busy at work by the time we get to Lagos.'

(92) W(5n ti ra m ura IQwQ ki t6 ddl1.
2pP RELAT+ANTI get ready before lpP PART reach+home
'They will be busy getting ready before we get home.' Antecedent Completion: RELATIONAL + Anticipative + Incompletive


Next in the series of complex aspects involving the relational is the

Antecedent Completion (cf., which combines three simple aspects in its formation: the RELATIONAL 'ti', the anticipative 'ma' and the incompletive 'n'. It is, in essence, an addition of a sense of "incompleteness" to the manifestive aspect already discussed in As with the other aspects incorporating the relational, it is 'ti' that establishes the bond between the anticipative and the incompletive, with, of course, additional emphasis provided by 'ki' and 't6'. The latter pair confirm the relationship already signaled by 'ti' in the main clause. Examples (93-94) provide a sense of this complex dynamics.

(93) A ti maa ii we t~n ki o t6 ii.
lpP RELAT+ANTI+INCOM bathe finish before 2pS PART wake
'We used to have finished bathing before you woke up.'

(94) Mo ti mIa I ji ki o t6 sfin.
ipS RELAT+ANTI+INCOM wake before 2pS PART sleep
'I used to be awake before you went to sleep.' The Relevant-Incentive: RELATIONAL + Incomtletive

Last in the series of the complex aspects involving the relational aspect is the relevant-inceptive, which combines two simple aspects: the RELATIONAL 'ti' and the incompletive 'n'. It is similar, in many ways, to the antecedent completion (cf. &, except for the absence of the anticipative 'maa'. In fact, the main difference between the two is that in the antecedent completion aspect, the event in the main clause is terminated before the one in the subordinate clause, in the relevant-inceptive, the the activity described in the main clause is ongoing before and during the second activity in the subordinate intervenes.

(95) Mo ti 9 j qun ki V t6 wQ1.
lpS RELAT+INCOM eat before 2pP PART enter
'I have/had begun eating before you came in.'


(96) U ti 1i j6 kf a 0 il yfn.
2pP RELAT+INCOM go before lpP PART see 2pPOBJ
'You have/had started dancing before we saw you.'

In both of examples (95) and (96), Iti n' frames the key clause, which serves as a frame around which the subordinate clause occurs. Thus the activity in the main clause begins prior to the one in the subordinate clause and continues after the interruption. The subordinate clause is introduced in syntax by the preposition 'kF, though already signaled in the main clause by the relational 'ti.

Thus, we see that in all the five complex aspects involving complex

sentences, the RELATIONAL aspect is pivotal in the dynamics of these aspects. It is the relational that signals, right from the main clause, that a relationship is to be expected among the different clauses that will make up the entire sentence. Other elements, such as the preposition 'ki' (before) and the verbal particle 't6' (be sufficient, be enough, be adequate, attain limit, etc.) are introduced later on, in the subordinate clause, to reinforce and emphasize this relationship. The relational is therefore central to the formation of the complex aspects and complex sentences.

Another observation worth making at this juncture is that although the relational occurs in complex sentences, it can also occur alone (as one of the simple aspects), but even when it occurs alone, it still bears relationship to some other event at the moment of utterance, such as we see in section examples (5 1-5 3) above, and 2.4.3 example (96) below, illustrating the relational aspect.

78 Complex Aspects not Involving the Relational Aspect

There are two complex aspects that do not involve the relational aspect, at least not directly. Although they are found primarily in simple sentence structures (97-98 & 99b-100), they are also attested in the habitual complex aspect when it involves an activity that was undertaken with regularity over a period of time prior to the moment of speech (99a). This group of complex aspects comprises the INCEPTIVE 'yi6 miLa' and the HABITUAL 'maa n'. As with the ones that have the relational in common (cf. above), this category of complex aspects also have one simple aspect in common: the ANTICIPATIVE 'ma', which suggests that anticipation is a common element in both of these complex aspects. Also 'y6' and 'md.a' make up the irrealis aspects. The former is the irrealis completive and the latter the irrealis incompletive (cf. Thus both are related, by virtue of belonging to the same sub-category: the irrealis. The Inceptive: Intentional + Anticipative

The inceptive (cf. for a more detailed discussion) is a complex of two simple aspects: the intentional 'y6' and the ANTICIPATIVE 'mi.a'. This aspect describes an event or activity that is yet to occur but is anticipated. The speaker has decided, by a force of the will, to embark upon it.

(97) Emi yi6 mAa lQ i6.
ipS INTEN + ANTI go home
'I intend to leave for/start going home.'

(98) Emi y46 mna bj io IQ.
ipS INTEN+ANTI with work go
'I intend to/will get back to work (and keep it going).'

The two examples above capture a scenario in which the speaker has made up her mind to embark on the activities mentioned in each sentence:


"leaving" in (97) and "working"~ in (98), respectively. The activities have not yet taken place but have been willed to take place shortly. There is therefore a sense of anticipation involved. The Habitual: Anticipative + Incomnletive

The habitual aspect is created by a combination of two simple aspects: the ANTICIPATIVE 'mda' and the incompletive Wn. It refers to an activity that was habitually undertaken prior to the moment of speech (99a) or is still being undertaken up to and beyond the moment of speech (99b). In some way, this latter sense could have an eternal meaning, such as the sun rising in the east, as in example (100). It goes without saying that if something is habitual, then it can reasonably be anticipated.

(99a) Mo mia 11 j6 pupo nfgbati mo iid ni ewe.
ipS ANTI + INCOM dance plenty when ipS exist PREP youth
'I (used to) dance a lot when I was young.'

(99b) Mo mja ii j4?un 16joojtimO.
ipS ANTI + INCOM eat daily
'I eat daily.'

(100) Obrfin maia ii rAn ni i-obrfin.
Sun ANTI + INCOM shine PREP splitting-sun
'The sun rises (regularly, habitually) in the east.'

just as the relational is common to the other five series of complex aspects, in like manner the anticipative is common to the latter two. In the complex aspects not directly involving the relational, it is still a sense of relatedness that makes the anticipation possible when the two aspects combine. It is the intentionality in that makes anticipation possible. Likewise in, it is the non-completion that informs the anticipation. Relationship is therefore a fundamental element in the chemistry that creates the complex aspects from otherwise independent simple aspects. This


relatedness points to a complex, internal harmony that undergirds the interconnectivity of the various aspectual elements.

2.4 Aspect Markers in Context

Having already emphasized that aspect markers can, and do, co-occur, I provide below a free text to illustrate how these markers interact within the VP as well as in the wider context of the YL sentence.

Text A below is an example of aspect markers in context. It is a text that I generated by myself, from my native speaker's intuition. A free translation is also provided below it. It is to be noted that in the text, aspect markers (in bold) always precede the verb (italicized).

In this text, the following aspects occur: the unmarked aspect (101-103, 104,107); the incompletive 'n', example (103/104); the relational 'ti', example (104); the anticipative 'mAa', example (107) and the intentional aspect 'yi6', example (108). Thus, in this short text we see all of the five simple aspects operating freely in discourse.


(101) LAn A, mi Ati Ay6 1Q si ilM Awon bree wa
Yesterday, 1 and Ayo go to house PLUR friend our
(102) stgb6n a k6 b i Awon 6bii won nil.
but we NEG meet PLUR parent their LOC+home
(103) Awon omo won ni a b nil. W6n i
PLUR child their is we meet at+home. They INCOM
(104) sin 16w6. W6n sQ pL Awon 6bii won ti lQ
sleep at+hand. They say that PLUR parent their RELA go
(105) si Orlando 1,ti ijeta siLgb6n won k6
DIREC Orlando since day before yesterday but they NEG
(106) ni po pad d.
have late return arrive.
(107) W6n sQ p6 61a ni w6n mda pad d.
They say that tomorrow is they ANTI return arrive.
(108) Lhin n won yi6 10 si Tampa ftin oj6 die.
Afterwards they INTEN go DIREC Tampa for day few.


Free Translation of TextA

'Yesterday, Ayo and I went to the house of our friends but did not meet
their parents at home. Only the children were at home. They were
sleeping. They told us that their parents had gone to Orlando since the day before yesterday but they wouldn't be long in returning. They said
that they (the parents) would return the following day. Afterwards they
will (intend to) go to Tampa for several days.'

A close observation reveals that all the verb forms (in italics) remain unchanged, whether they are referring to activities or events that have already occured, as in examples (101) to (106), are yet to occur, as in (107) and (108), or are still in progress, as in (103/104). The aspect markers (in bolds) preceding the verbs simply describe different stages in the performance of the various activities.

2.4.1 Completive Asipect (Unmarked)

The completive aspect appears five times in the text, and every time it appears it has to do with completed actions. In all instances of its appearance the activity has both begun and has ceased to continue before the moment of speech.

2.4.2 Incompletive Aspect 'ii'

The incompletive appears only once in the text, (103/104). It refers to

an activity that began sometime before the speaker and his companion appear on the scene and is still in progress when they arrive at the home of their friends. The children of the friends were still sleeping when the visitors arrived and interrupted their sleep. It is important to note here that it is only through context that we know that the activity took place sometime in the past.

(109) Wo5n ii sdm lowco.
3pP INCOM sleep at hand
'They were/are busy sleeping.'


2.4.3 Relational 't i'

The relational also appears only once in the text, in example (104). Here, it refers to an activity that had taken place relative to the moment of speech: the parents had already left for Orlando before the arrival of the guests.

(110) W~n sQ P0 ~iwvn obi won t! 1 si Orlando..
3pPS say that PLUR parent 3pPO RI[AT go to Orlando...
'They said that their parents had gone to Orlando...'

2.4.4 Anticinative 'm~a'

The anticipative likewise appears just once in the text, in example (107). Here, the kids tell their visitors that their (the kids') parents should return the following day. The anticipative is used here because the children have no control over when their parents will return. They can therefore not say so with absolute certainty, for they could decide to return earlier than planned, or even much later.

(111) Wo5n SQ p6 01A ni won m Aa padA de3pPS say that tomorrow is 3pPO ANTI return arrive 'They said that they (the parents) would return tomorrow.'

2.4.5 Intentional vI6'

The intentional also appears once, in example (108). Here the children use the intentional--as opposed to the anticipative, as is the case in (107). They know with some degree of certainty that their parents, upon return from Orlando, will be heading for Tampa. Most likely, the kids know that their parents had purchased another ticket for Tampa for the day in question, probably a non-refundable ticket. It is the parents' will that is involved here. They must have made up their minds about going to Tampa on the said date so as not to lose their ticket money. Probably the parents had told the kids, "We're going to Orlando and will be back at the latest on such a date so we could catch


the flight for Tampa on such and such a date." Thus, although the day of the

parents' return from Orlando may not be hundred percent certain, it is

however their intention to make another trip to Tampa upon their return. It is

a decision they had taken before leaving for Orlando.

(112) L~hind wQn yif6 IQ si Tampa fin Qjo dio.
Afterwards 3pPS INTEN go to Tampa for day few
'Afterwards they will/intend to go to Tampa for a while.'

In order to capture a few more aspect markers, especially those that do

not occur in Text A, I provide yet another personally generated text below

(Text B). In this text, we observe some more complex aspects, in context.

(113) Emi ati Funmi yi6 1Q si NAijiriyA nindi osix
I and Funmi INTEN go DIREC Nigeria inside month
(114) kefA odfin yii. A ti if mira sfl6 bdyii.
sixth year this. We RELEV-INCEP prepare down now.
(115) A ti zi ra Awon Abim ti a mda fdn
We RELEV-INC buy PLUR gift that we ANTI give
(116) Awon ebi Ati 6rd nigbti a b dM.
PLUR. family and friend when we meet arrive+home.
(117) Gbogbo won yi6 ti mAa retd wa ki a
All them EXPECTIVE expect us before we
(118) t6 dl. Gbogbo igbA ti a bd IQ
reach arrive+home. All time that we meet go
(119) il& ni a mda ri ra bfin 16w6.
home is we HABITUAL buy gift in hand

Free Translation of Passage B

'Funmi and I will (be) go(ing) to Nigeria this June. We are busy making preparations right now. We've started buying gifts that we will give to
family and friends when we arrive home. Everyone will be expecting us
by the time we get home. Every time we go home we always take gifts

In line (113), we have a simple aspect 'yio' preceding the verb 'lo'. In

lines (114) and (115), however, we have examples of the relevant-inceptive

aspect 'ti n, a complex aspect involving the combination of the relational 'ti'


and the incompletive 'n'. In line (117) we have an example of the expective 'yi6 ti mAa', a combination of the intentional 'yi6', the incompletive 'ti' and the anticipative 'maa'. This is an example of three simple aspects co-occuring to derive a complex aspect. In line (119) the suppositional 'nMia' and the incompletive 'n' combine to derive the habitual complex aspect, 'mda n'.

2.4.6 Relevant-Inceptive 'ti i'

The relevant-inceptive aspect occurs twice in text B, lines (114) and

(115). In both instances of its occurence, it refers to an action that has begun and still is in progress.

(120) A ti ii mfira silo byii
lpP RELEV-INCEP prepare down now
'We are getting ready/getting prepared now.'

(121) A ti ii ra iwn Obun...
'We have been (busy) buying gifts...'

2.4.7 Exoective 'yi6 ti mAa'

The expective occurs in line (117) in the text. It is practically selfdefining in the context in which it appears, as it is immediately followed by the verb 'reti' (expect). It describes the state of mind of the people looking forward to the arrival of the speaker and to the gifts that they will receive. They are expectant.

(122) Gbogbo wVn yf6 ti mia red "Ia...
All 3pP EXPECTIVE expect lpP
'They will all be expecting us...'

2.4.8 Habitual 'ma i'

The habitual occurs in line (119). In that context, it describes an activity that takes place all the time. There is therefore a timelessness to it. It describes


an activity that the speaker performs all the time. It has already taken place in the past, it still goes on in the present and is expected to continue in the future. The speaker and his wife are in the habit of buying gifts along for people whenever they travel home.

(123) A m.4 a d ra Obtn kI0m.
IpP HABITUAL buy gift in hand
'We buy gifts to take along.'

A good grasp on the nature and the internal workings of these YL aspect markers is very crucial to the understanding and appreciation of Tutuola's language and Yoruba English in general, including most of what we encounter in the grammar of Nigerian English (NE). My next chapter shall focus on specific data from the works of Amos Tutuola to see how these aspect markers from YL have been transferred into this variety of NE.

2.5 Temnoral Relations In YorihbA

It is a known linguistic fact that every language has a means of

expressing time, if and when there is a need to do so. Although it is aspect that is obligatorily marked in YL (and not tense), the language does have a syntactic way of marking time, when such information is needed and is necessary. This is done largely by the use of adverbial expressions of time such as 'bAyii' (right now), '16w6' (at hand/at moment), 'IlanA' (yesterday), '161a' (tomorrow) 'l~Iur6 yii' (this morning), '1A6 AnA' (last night), 'lAip (soon), 'nigbA kan ri' (sometime ago), 'lay6 Atij6' (long time ago/in years gone by), etc. These adverbials are the principal means by which time may be marked in the grammar. Some of them are more time-specific (cf. 124-129) while others are more general in nature (130-132). These adverbs of time are normally placed postverbally. However, they could be placed preverbally,


when they are deliberately focused for emphasis in a sentence and, though the language does permit this syntactic fronting, generally it sounds awkward. The examples below will elucidate my point.

(124) Nibo ni o h IQ BAYI?
Where is you INCOMP go now?
'Where ARE you going now/at moment?'

(125) Nibo ni o 9 1 LANAA?
Where is you INCOMP go yesterday?
'Where WERE you going yesterday?'

(126) Mo i jeun LQV.
I INCOMP eat at hand/this moment
'I AM busy eating/I am eating at moment.'

(127) Mo ii jqun NIJETA
I INCOMP eat day before yesterday
'I WAS eating day before yesterday.'

In examples (124) and (125) above, the only indicators of time are the adverbs 'b.Ayii' (now) and 'lAn~A' (yesterday). The former adds the notion of present while the latter gives it a past interpretation. Otherwise the two expressions are devoid of any specific notion of time. The same is applicable to (126) and (127). In (126), '16w6' (at the moment/hand) gives it a present time frame while 'nijeta' (day before yesterday) gives example (127) a past frame of time. In the absence of 'nijeta' in (127), the sentence could also have a present interpretation.

(128) Mo ri KikO BAYII.
I see Kik now.
'I (can) SEE Kike (right) now/this moment.'

(129) Mo ri KikO LAAARQ YII.
I see Kik6 morning this.
'I SAW Kike this morning.'

Likewise in (128) and (129), it is 'byif' (now) and 'dAAr6 yii' (this morning) that help us fix the two similar expressions in time. In all of the


above given examples, the time adverbials refer to a more specific frame of time in which an action or an event took place. In (130-132), examples are provided of some less time-specific adverbials.

(130) Mo mAa 1Q sibi-iq LAIP.
lpS ANTI go to+workplace soon
'I will be going to work soon/I am looking forward to going to
work soon/I anticipate to be at work soon.'

(131) A ti Ipde rQ NIGBA KAN RI.
lpP RELAT meet 2pS some time ago
'We have met her/him sometime ago/We've met before.'

(132) AwQn baba wa jagun LAYEATIJQ.
PLURAL father lpPOBJ fought in+world+of old
'Our (fore)fathers fought wars in days gone by/in time of old.'

In (130) the time reference is indicated by the use of the time adverb, 'ldip6' (soon), which also places the expression in the future. In (131), the only element of time is introduced by the use of the adverb 'nigb kanri' (some time ago). Similarly, in (132), it is the adverb 'ly( Atij6' (in the olden days) that provides a time frame to the sentence.

Bolorunduro attempted to classify these adverbs of time into two main categories--specific and general--but appears to have jumbled them together. For instance he classified '16s66sdn' (every afternoon/in the afternoons) and '16joojuim6' (daily/everyday) under "Specific Time Adverbial" while, for reasons best known only to him, 'lIlaal6' (every night/nightly) was classified under "General Time Adverbial" (p. 25). Apart from such minor problems as discussed above, I think the categorization of the time adverbials into general and specific is largely accurate and does have some merit.

It is evident from the above examples that although tense is not

morphologically marked on YL verbs, the language does have its own way of indicating time relations, if and when it is important to do so.


The treatment of tense and aspect in NE is one of the most interesting aspects of EL usage. As has been mentioned in the previous chapter, YL is largely an aspectual. language while EL is primarily a tensed one. In fact, the place of tense is so strong in EL that aspect is often treated as tense. A good example of this is the so-called Perfect Tenses, which are apparently aspectual in nature. Take the following EL sentences for instance,

(1) 1 ate. (Past Simple Tense)
(2) 1 have eaten. ("Present Perfect Tense")

Example (1) above deals with an activity that took place in the past: the act of eating took place at some point in the past and is completed. In example

(2), however, we are not as much concerned with the time of the performance of the activity as with its internal state, i.e. the completion of the act of eating, relative to the moment of speech. It is clear from example (2) that what we are dealing with here is aspect rather than tense. However, most English grammar books refer to it as tense. It is this kind of grammatical analysis that has been carried over into YL by grammarians, who have mostly been trained in the United Kingdom. The effect of this training often shows itself in descriptions of YL made from an EL perspective. For instance, Bamgbose (1967: 26) classifies examples (3-4) below as "Continuous Tense", (5-6) as "Habitual Tense" and (7-8) as "Future Tense", although these can more appropriately be seen as examples of aspect. In fact, the terms "continuous" and "habitual"