Startseite / Archive / 2015 / On the adjective class in Gashua Bade
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1. Introduction

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This article aims at illustrating features of the adjective class in Gashua Bade (GB) a West Chadic B language spoken in Yobe State, Nigeria, which together with other Bade varieties, Ngizim, and Duwai forms the Bade-Ngizim group. Comparative remarks from Western Bade (WB) are brought in where they clarify issues that are not revealed in GB alone. For a classification of Bade dialects and the major structural differences between GB and WB see Schuh (1981). The central question is by what means GB expresses concepts of qualification which correspond to attributive and predicative adjectives, e.g. in English [1].

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In recent years increased attention has been paid on the lexical category of adjectives, e.g. in Dixon (2004, 2010). Discussions on parts of speech such as adjectives against verbs or nouns are also common in African linguistics, e.g. Segerer (2008), and Tröbs, Rothmaler & Winkelmann (2008). When it comes to descriptions of Chadic languages a distinct lexical class of adjectives is not always recognized. Instead adjectives sometimes constitute a subclass of nouns, i.e. qualitative nouns or nomina qualitatis, e.g. proposed in Wolff (1993) for Hausa [2], and in Löhr (2002:102) for Malgwa:

Das Malgwa besitzt keine Adjektiva im traditionellen Sinn einer eigenen Wortart. Es handelt sich eher um eine bestimmte Klasse von Nomina, sog. Nomina qualitatis, die funktional und semantisch den Adjektiva in anderen Sprachen entspricht.

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Reading on a few lines reveals that Löhr (2002:102) nevertheless identifies some grammatical criteria for distinguishing so called qualitative nouns from other nouns:

Sie lassen sich durch ihre Stellung im Syntagma von Nomina im engeren Sinne … abgrenzen … Bei attributivem Gebrauch können Nomina qualitatis im Gegensatz zu anderen Nomina an das Bestimmungswort angeschlossen werden, ohne eine Genitivverbindung einzugehen.

It is interesting that this is exactly the criterion which is often proposed to set apart a class of adjectives from the class of nouns, e.g. for Gidar in Frajzyngier (2008:97):

The defining characteristic of the category “adjective” is its ability to modify a noun without any additional markers occurring between the head noun and the modifier.

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Although Bade adjectives share morphological features with nouns, e.g. patterns of pluralization, I will argue that nevertheless adjectives can be distinguished from the class of nouns by means of syntactic criteria. My argumentation follows Dixon (2004, 2010) who claims that, when all relevant facts are taken into account, an adjective class can be recognized for every language:

I suggest that a distinct word class “adjectives” can be recognized for every human language. In some languages adjectives have similar grammatical properties to nouns, in some to verbs, in some to both nouns and verbs, and in some to neither. I suggest that there are always some grammatical criteria – sometimes rather subtle – for distinguishing the adjective class from other word classes.

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African languages are sometimes said to have small and closed sets of adjectives, e.g. Igbo is said to have only eight adjectives organized in four pairs of antonyms (Dixon 2010, Segerer 2008). Segerer (2008) furthermore identifies closed adjective classes and classes of primary adjectives with a somehow arbitrary limit of 30 members. Screening Bade dictionaries, i.e. Tarbutu (2004) for GB and Dagona (2004) for WB reveals that in GB approx. 80 entries are marked as adjectives, i.e. 3% of the total, and about 130 adjectives in WB, i.e. approx. 4% of the total. These figures, however, include derived adjectives, ideophonic adjectives and some words that have dual class membership [3].

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Section 2 outlines primary adjectives, whereas in section 3 the major characteristics of secondary, or derived, adjectives are illustrated. In section 4 pluralization patterns of adjectives are outlined, and in section 5 we will have a look at syntactic characteristics, i.e. attributive and predicative use of adjectives. Finally in section 6 some conclusions will be drawn.

2. Primary adjectives

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In this section I will present a list of primary adjectives, i.e. adjectives which are obviously not derived from other word classes. The list is organized according to Dixon’s (2004) classification of semantic types. Following (Dixon 2004:3): “… lexical roots in every language can be arranged in a number of semantic types. Certain types have prototypical association with a given word class, while others vary in their word class associations. … There are four core semantic types, which are typically associated with both large and small adjective classes”: 1. Dimension, e.g. big, small, long, short; 2. Age, e.g. young, old, new; 3. Value, e.g. good, bad, perfect, lovely; 4. Colour, e.g. black, white, red. Table 1 displays primary adjectives which belong to Dixon’s core semantic types.

Table 1: Primary adjectives of core semantic types

GB

Gloss

Comment

DIMENSION

ɗinɗiilà [4]

‘small’

japà

‘small’

kûzvǝr̃

‘tall, long’

kàdar̃â

‘short’

< Kan. kàtarà adj. ‘short or undersized’

màar̃ǝm

‘big, large’

ǹgur̃jam

‘huge’

< Kan. gurzàm n. ‘big or heavy person’

AGE

dìinà

‘old (of things)’

< Kan. dîn adj. ‘old, used (of things, etc.)’

kǝlâ

‘new’

gàna

‘young’

< Kan. gàna adj. ‘small, little, few’

VALUE

bǝ̀lân

‘good, beautiful, nice’

bàksau

‘bad, evil’

jǝɓà

‘correct’

kǝ̀mangàr̃

‘evil, wicked, malicious’

< Kan. kǝmangǝ̀r n. ‘cruel or wicked person’

kalkalà

‘correct’

< Kan. kalkal n. ‘sameness, alikeness’

kùuli

‘pleasant, nice’

COLOUR

ɓuwâ

‘red’

peetà

‘white’

pǝlkâ

‘black’

tlǝr̃tà

‘green’

àarîn

‘blue’

< Kan. àlîn n. ‘indigo plant’

kar̃gòm

‘yellow’

< Kan. kurwùm adj. ‘yellow’

rìipìlla

‘blue’

< Kan. lìwùla adj. ‘blue’

àrǝ̀pìilla

‘sliver’

< Kan. lìwulà n. ‘silver’

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A second group of Dixon’s semantic types are considered to be peripheral and “are typically associated with medium sized and large adjective classes” (Dixon 2004:4): 5. Physical property, e.g. hard, soft, heavy, wet; 6. Human propensity, e.g. jealous, happy, kind, clever; 7. Speed, e.g. fast, quick, slow. Finally, according to Dixon (2004:5) “a number of semantic types are associated with large adjective classes in some languages”; 8. Difficulty, e.g. easy, difficult, tough, hard; 9. Similarity, e.g. like, unlike, similar, different; 10. Qualification, e.g. definite, true, possible, usual; 11. Quantification, e.g. all, many, some, few; 12. Position, e.g. high, low, near, far, right, left; 13. Cardinal numbers (in some languages), and first, last (and other ordinal numbers). Table 2 displays primary adjectives associated with Dixon’s peripheral semantic types.

Table 2: Primary adjectives of peripheral semantic type

GB

Gloss

Comment

PHYSICAL PROPERTY

atlǝɓà

‘clumsy, disorderly’

câ

‘sour, fermented’

dùksi

‘heavy’

dùunau

‘strong’

< Kan. dunò n. ‘strength’

gàatla

‘raw, unripe’

jlàrgàgà

‘serrated, saw-toothed’

jlǝ̀r̃a

‘bitter; expensive’

kǝffà

‘warm’

ǹgaà

‘healthy’

< Kan. ngâ adj. ‘healthy, clever’

sàl

‘staple (e.g. food)’

HUMAN PROPENSITY

kàakaabù

‘foolish, stupid’

DIFFICULTY

kǝ̀skê

‘easy’

< Kan. kǝ̀skǝ̂ adj. ‘easy, simple, unimportant’

tǝtà

‘difficult, painful’

SIMILARITY

bâm

‘different, another’

càapǝn

‘like, similar’

POSITION

dàmtau

‘near’

pàlam

‘far, distant’

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We can observe in Tables 1 and 2 that GB has not only primary adjectives which are associated with small classes, but also primary adjectives which are typically associated with medium sized and also large adjective classes. Although in the group of peripheral semantic types not all types are represented, e.g. adjectives expressing speed are not attested, we nevertheless may conclude that GB would not qualify as a language with a closed adjective class in the sense of Segerer (2008). First of all GB has more than 30 primary adjectives, and secondly, it integrates loanwords from Kanuri [5] into the class of adjectives.

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It seems that segmentally primary adjectives do not have unifying formal patterns. Although several adjectives end in the vowel /a/, other vowels as well as consonants are possible, and there seem to be no obvious unifying tonal patterns or syllable structures. Although morphologically primary adjectives in GB are basically indistinguishable from nouns, comparison with WB leaves no doubt that in fact there is a lexical category of primary adjectives distinct from nouns. In WB nouns in their citation, or indefinite form take nunation, i.e. a suffix -n  [6], whereas adjectives are always cited without nunation. Note, however, that many adjectives can be converted to nouns by adding nunation, e.g. bàkso ‘evil (adj.)’ vs. bàkson ‘evil, wickedness (n.)’.

3. Secondary adjectives

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I use the term secondary adjectives for those adjectives which are derived from other word classes such as verbs, nouns, ideophones, or even other adjectives. Derivation of adjectives in GB is basically done by affixation and by reduplication.

3.1. Derivational processes by means of the prefix ga(a)-

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In GB the prefix ga- is commonly used to derive participial adjectives from intransitive verbs. What may or may not be the same prefix can derive descriptive nouns and language names.

3.1.1. Participial adjectives

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In GB the prefix ga- together with a suffix -ak typically derives participial adjectives from intransitive verbs. Although this derivational process is productive, some items have undergone semantic shifts that are not predictable from the meaning of the base. For participial adjectives in WB cf. Schuh (2007). The following formation rules can be observed.

Formation of participial adjectives:

  • ga- + BASE + -ak

  • BASE TONE → L on a syllable beginning in a voiced obstruent, H otherwise

  • Final -akH

  • ga- prefix → tone opposite following syllable

gagàlak

‘old’

<

gàlu

‘grow old’

gagdàɓak

‘bent (over), crooked’

<

ǝ̀gdàɓu [7]

‘be bent over, be crooked’

gagvàɗak

‘putrid (carrion)’

<

ǝ̀gvàɗu

‘smell putrid (carrion)’

gajgwàmak

‘chipped off’

<

ǝ̀jgwàmu

‘chip off’

gazgàtak

‘pierced’

<

ǝ̀zgàtu

‘become pierced’

gàɓatlak

‘clever, wise’

<

ɓàtlu

‘become clever’

gàckak

‘extracted, enlightened’

<

ǝ̀cku

‘extract, become enlightened’

gàtaatlak

‘broken’

<

tàatlu

‘break into two’

gànakwak

‘full’

<

nàku

‘become full’

gàr̃ajlak

‘wet’

<

r̃àjlu

‘become wet’

3.1.2. Nominal use of ga- participles

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In GB many adjectives can be used nominally, or should be analysed as having dual class membership [8]. Participial adjectives also can function as nouns. This becomes obvious especially in WB where the normal nominal suffixes are added, i.e. in particular nunation in the citation form. Moreover, in WB some nominally used participial adjectives are marked for gender. Masculine forms take the typical nunation suffix -aan, and feminine forms are sometimes marked by the derivational suffix -ako-, i.e a feminine and in some cases a diminutive formative (cf. Schuh 2007), e.g. gàtlǝkparaan “mad person sg.m.”, gàtlǝkparakon “mad person sg.f.”, and gàtlǝkparǝnǝn “mad persons pl.” < tlǝ̀kpàru “go mad”. In GB no gender differentiation can be observed, however, both varieties have plural forms for nominally used ga- participles.

Singular

Plural

gàalak

kaalgǝ̀n

‘old, important person’

<

gàlu

gasaktak

gasaktǝn

‘stingy person’

<

sàktu

gàtlǝkpalak

gàtlǝkpapǝlǝn

‘mad person’

<

tlǝ̀kpàlu

3.1.3. Descriptive nouns with the prefix ga(a)-

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In GB the use of the prefix ga(a)- is not restricted to the formation of participial adjectives as illustrated above, but also serves as a formative in other derivational processes, e.g. descriptive nouns which are derived from other nouns and/or adjectives. In GB these forms differ from the participial adjectives insofar as they usually do not take the suffix -ak, and most of the attested forms have a long vowel in the prefix, i.e. gaa-. Although the resemblance between the prefixes ga- and gaa- probably is not just a chance resemblance, it seems that the forms discussed here constitute a derivational pattern distinct from that of the participial adjectives. The following examples probably have dual class membership and may be used as nouns or adjectives.

gǝ̀msǝ̀k, m̀sàt (pl.)

‘male, man’

<

m̀sǝ̀k

‘husband’

gàamà, àmat (pl.)

‘female, woman’

<

amâ

‘wife’

gàmàjlàwài

‘left-handed (person)’

<

majlàwài

‘left, left hand’

gàamayà, gàamayat (pl.)

‘hungry (person)’

<

mayâ

‘hunger’

gaabàksau

‘bad, evil’

<

bàksau

‘bad, evil’

In addition to these examples we find several descriptive nouns which are derived with the prefix gaa-. Typically these nouns also include the noun sibottom, base, anus’.

gàapiici, gàasǝpiici

‘liar’

<

pìici

‘lie’

gàasivǝɗau

‘urinator’

<

vǝ̀ɗau

‘urine’

gàasiɗala

‘blabber’

<

ɗalâ

‘talking’

gàasimàlwai

‘coward’

<

màlìyu

‘be frightened’

3.1.4. Language names derived with the prefix gà-

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Finally, language names are systematically derived from ethnonyms by prefixing gà-, which may or may not have the same origin as the prefix used for participial adjectives. The prefix gà- always carries a low tone. In most cases all syllables of the derived word carry low tones, but there are also some words with a high tone on the last syllable. Semantically language names derived via the prefix gà- can also mean ‘in the language of X, or in the manner of X’, and they can be used adjectivally with the general ethnonymic meaning (cf. ethnonymic adjectives in Hausa, e.g. bàfaar̃ishèn bàr̃goo ‘Persian blanket’).

gàbàdài

‘Bade language’

<

Badài

‘Bade person’

gàbòolài

‘Bole language’

<

Bòolài

‘Bole person’

gànàsàr̃a

‘English language’

<

Nàsàr̃a

‘European, white person’

gàapǝ̀nau

‘Hausa language’

<

Àapǝ̀nau

‘Hausa person’

gàbòor̃ài

‘Fulfulde language’

<

?

gàzànzànau

‘Kanuri language’

<

Zànzànau/Zan

‘Kanuri person’

gàmàangà

‘Manga language’

<

Màangà

‘Manga person’

Examples:

tǝ̀r̃zǝnâ gàbàdài

‘Bade-type folktale/riddle’

mootà gànàsàr̃a

‘European car’

daagwzak gàzànzànau

‘Kanuri-type sceptre’

3.2. Statives

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In GB the prefix dǝ- productively derives statives from transitive verbs. Statives are nearly in complementary distribution with ga- participial adjectives. The prefix ga- is basically applied to intransitive verbs and dǝ- basically to transitive verbs. For statives in WB cf. Schuh (2007). The formation rules are as follows:

Formation of statives:

  • dǝ- + BASE + -à

  • BASE TONE → L on a syllable beginning in a voiced obstruent [9], H otherwise

  • Final -àL

  • dǝ- prefix → tone opposite following syllable

dǝbǝ̀nà

‘cooked’

<

bǝ̀nu

‘cook’

dǝr̃dà

‘crawling’

<

ǝ̀r̃du

‘crawl’

dǝnkwà

‘full’

<

ǹku

‘fill’

dǝ̀masà

‘bought’

<

màsu

‘buy’

dàɗǝbdà

‘sold’

<

ɗǝ̀bdu

‘sell’

dàɗayà

‘castrated’

<

ɗàyu

‘castrate’

dàtatlà

‘broken’

<

tàtlu

‘break’

Normally verbs with only transitive usage have only statives, whereas verbs with only intransitive usage have only participial adjectives.

màsu

‘buy’

dǝ̀masà

*gàmasak

pàtu

‘get lost’

*dǝ̀patà

gàpatak

Verbs with a transitive and an intransitive stem form can derive both forms.

ǝ̀rbǝ̀cu

‘open’

dǝrbǝ̀cà

‘open’

ǝ̀rbàcu

‘be open’

garbàcà

‘open’

ǝ̀zdǝ̀vu

‘put up guests, lodge’

dǝzdǝ̀va

‘lodged’

ǝ̀zdàvu

‘stay as a guest, lodge’

gàzdàvak

‘lodged’

sàapǝ̀r̃àatu

‘prepare’

dǝ̀saapǝr̃aatà

‘prepared’

sàapàr̃àatu

‘get ready’

gàsaapar̃aatak

‘ready’

ǹku

‘fill’

dǝnkwà

‘filled’

nàku

‘become full’

gànakwak

‘full’

<18>

The ga- form refers to the state as a property, whereas the dǝ- form has a resultative sense, e.g. fried meat as a state vs. raw meat/the meat [has now been] fried (cf. German ‘voll’ vs. ‘gefüllt’). Syntactically ga- forms serve as attributive modifiers, whereas dǝ- forms can only be used as predicates.

fǝ̀na gànakwak

‘a full calabash’; *‘the calabash is full’

fǝ̀nà dǝnkwà [10]

‘the calabash is filled/full’; *‘a full calabash’

In contrast to dǝ- forms ga- forms can be used nominally to indicate an entity embodying the property in question. This also explains why ga- can be used with nominal roots, whereas dǝ- can only be used with verbs that lead to a resultant state (cf. Schuh 2007).

3.3. Reduplication

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In GB, like several other Chadic languages, adjectives can be derived by reduplication. Adjectives may be reduplicated and sometimes get an attenuated meaning. GB shows full and partial reduplication of adjectives. Many of the reduplicated adjectives fall semantically between ideophones and adjectives and could be sub-classified as so called ideophonic adjectives [11]. Ideophonic adjectives have characteristics of both adjectives and ideophones. Like adjectives, they predicate qualities to nominal referents, but like ideophones they tend to indicate highly specific properties, or sometimes combinations of properties. Also like ideophones they exhibit a limited number of phonological shapes, most of which are not shared by ‘mainstream’ lexical categories, such as nouns, adjectives, and verbs. In an attributive sense they can be used prenominally and postnominally, and they can be used alone as predicates of equational sentences. Unlike adjectives, ideophonic adjectives cannot be used nominally, and they have no plural forms. There are several forms that look like reduplicated forms, but where the source is unknown.

Reduplication of the following colour terms in GB gives an attenuated meaning [12], like English ‘-ish’.

ɓuwâ-ɓuwâ

‘reddish’

<

ɓuwâ

‘red’

peetà-peetà

‘whitish’

<

peetà

‘white’

pǝlkâ-pǝlkâ

‘blackish’

<

pǝlkâ

‘black’

tlǝrtà-tlǝrtà

‘greenish’

<

tlǝrtà

‘green’

<20>

In GB several frozen forms of adjectives and ideophonic adjectives can be found, i.e. they are formally reduplicated forms, but the respective non-reduplicated form is either unknown or uncertain.

boolà-boolà

‘red and white spotted’

<

?boolà

‘dog with a white neck’

dǝ̀r̃wa- dǝ̀r̃wa

‘spotted, e.g. hyena’

<

?dǝr̃wà

‘black dog’

jàr̃ɓàɓà- jàr̃ɓàɓà

‘spotted’

<

?

laulawà

‘very thin’

<

?

dǝ̀vdǝ̀fa

‘greasy’

<

?

dâɓdaɓà

‘sweet’

<

?

gamàgamà

‘feeling better after injury or illness’

<

?

ǹgàar̃ǝ̀ngàar̃a

‘astringent’

<

?

pǝ̀làkpǝ̀làaka

‘slick (e.g. silk)’

<

?

pǝ̀lùɗpǝ̀lùuɗa

‘slick (e.g. silk)’

<

?

pàlpàla

‘hot, painful’

<

?

sǝ̀laaksǝ̀laaka

‘slickness of cloth, such as silk’

<

?

saksakà

‘cold’

<

?

<21>

In addition to this we find also a few adjectives where only the last syllable is reduplicated.

gùtlǝmtlǝ̀m

‘stinky (e.g. fish, raw cornstalks, onion)’

<

?

kwàtlàr̃tlàr̃a

‘huge’

<

?kwatlâr̃

‘calyxes of sorrel’

tlàkwàr̃kwàr̃a

‘huge’

<

?

3.4. Adjectives derived by the suffix -

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Some adjectives in GB are derived from other adjectives by means of the suffix -Cà. The consonant of the suffix is a copy of the last consonant of the word, if it ends in a consonant. These partially reduplicated adjectives may either indicate intensification (frequently translated with ‘very’), or are lexicalized and have a neutral meaning.

bǝ̀lannà

<

bǝ̀lân

‘good, beautiful’

kûzvǝr̃r̃à

<

kùzvǝr̃

‘tall, long’

màar̃ǝmmà

<

màar̃ǝm

‘big’

4. Pluralization of adjectives

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Although in GB nouns in the singular have intrinsic gender, i.e. masculine or feminine, gender is not a feature of adjectives. Adjectives have a singular form and several also have a plural form. Basically pluralization of adjectives does not differ from pluralization of nouns. The following pluralization patterns are attested for adjectives.

4.1. Plural type 1: Plural pattern -ǝn or -ǝRǝn

ɓuwâ

ɓuwǝn

‘red’

dùunau

dùunǝn

‘strong’

Note that several plural forms ending in -ǝn reduplicate the last consonant.

câ

cǝ̀cǝn

‘sour, fermented’

gàatla

gàatlǝ̀tlǝ̀n

‘raw, unripe’

jǝɓà

jǝɓǝɓǝn

‘correct’

jlǝ̀r̃a

jlǝ̀r̃ǝ̀r̃ǝ̀n

‘bitter; expensive’

kǝlâ

kǝlǝlǝn

‘new’

kùuli

kuulǝlǝn

‘pleasant’

cf. noun plurals

daajlǝ̀ra

daajlǝ̀rǝn

‘vulture’

kûbdu

kubdǝdǝn

‘second weeding’

4.2. Plural type 2: Plural pattern -aaCau or -ǝCau

kûzvǝr̃

kwazvàarau

‘tall, long’

kàdar̃â

kàdar̃au

‘short’

ǹgur̃jàm

ǹgur̃jàamau

‘huge’

cf. noun plurals

fǝ̀nà

fǝ̀nàanau

‘calabash’

gut

gwaatau

‘ear’

dà

dǝ̀dau

‘eye’

aɗâ

aɗǝɗau

‘head’

basâ

basǝsau

‘loan of money’

4.3. Plural type 4: Plural pattern -cin

gazgàtak

gàzgàkcin

‘pierced’

cf. noun plural

m̀zam

m̀zàmcin

‘hunter’

4.4. Suppletive and irregular plurals

màar̃ǝm

kaalgǝ̀n

‘big, large’

japà

yaɗǝɗa

‘small’

gàalak

kàalǝ̀gǝn

‘important’

gàkǝ̀ɗak

gakǝɗaɗuwun

‘dry, dried up, hard’

5. Syntax of adjectives

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In GB adjectives have mainly two syntactic functions, i.e.: 1. as attributes, i.e. as a specification on the head noun in an NP, 2. as predicates, i.e. in a statement that something has a certain property. Section 5.1. illustrates the use of attributive adjectives, whereas in section 5.2. the use of adjectives as predicates is outlined.

5.1. Attributive adjectives

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A feature of GB noun phrases containing attributive adjectives is that the adjective may either follow the head noun or precede it. This feature is also found in other West Chadic languages, e.g. Bole, Guruntum, Hausa, Kanakuru, Miya, and Zaar [13]. Postnominal adjectives are immediately juxtaposed to the head noun, whereas prenominal adjectives obligatorily connect to the head by means of the genitive linker > -k, -ǝk which is the same linker used with noun + noun genitives.

1.

noun

adjective

2.

adjective

/kǝ/

noun

Many attributive adjectives may precede as well as follow the head noun, although there seems to be a tendency towards postnominal use [14].

vǝ̀nyi

dùksi

=

dùksǝk

vǝ̀nyi

‘heavy stone’

stone

heavy

heavy.gen

stone

madùwà

màar̃ǝm

=

màar̃ǝmǝk

madùwà

‘big house’

house

big

big.gen

house

jàkùwa

ɓuwâ

=

ɓuwak

jàkùwa

‘red cap’

cap

red

red.gen

cap

<26>

In principle, noun phrases with the two orders have the same meaning, although differences may exist. This is especially the case with words which have dual class membership, e.g. dùksi = n. ‘weight’ and adj. ‘heavy’. Thus dùksǝk vǝ̀nyi can also mean ‘the weight of the stone’.

When an attributive participial adjective precedes the head noun the genitive marker coincides with the final /k/ of the adjective (in GB), and there is no gemination. As already mentioned statives cannot be used as attributive adjectives. Ideophonic adjectives may also precede or follow their head noun.

Participial adjectives

âulai gàɓatlak

=

gàɓatlak âulai

‘clever hare’

guɗkwà gànakwak

=

gànakwak guɗkwà

‘full pot’

mootà gàkwaaɗak

=

gàkwaaɗak mootà

‘spoiled car’

Ideophonic adjectives

aamǝn saksakà

=

saksakǎk aamǝn

‘cold water’

maanyîm jabjapà

=

jabjapǎk maanyîm

‘small boy’

<27>

The use in prenominal position can separate adjectives from other words like quantifiers, and numerals, which can be used only in a postnominal position. If the noun is followed by a quantifier or a numeral greater than one, the noun may be formally singular but semantically plural.

ǹgìiwànàk gàawa

‘many elephants’

jlǝngmàayat gàawa aasǝ̂k

‘(there are) many camels in the market’

mângàkcin (pl.) gàawa = mânga (sg.) gàawa

‘many friends’

dìikwà (sg.) kwan = dìikwàangǝn (pl.) kwan

‘three horses’

soobà sǝrǝn

‘two friends’

5.1.1. Adjectival phrases

<28>

Adjectival phrases are headed by adjectives and typically function as posthead modifiers. They often consist of a simple adjective which is followed by an intensifying ideophone, or an adverbial intensifiers such as hùwa, ǹgǝla, r̃àntu ‘very (much), extremely, really, etc.’.

mootà ɓuwâ città

‘a flame red car’

zanài peetà pakpakà

‘a snow-white gown’

goorau jlǝrà pitta

‘a very bitter cola nut’

mootà hǝlâ cawwà

‘a brand new car’

àwai kùuli ǹgǝla

‘a very sweet soup’

dùwu màar̃ǝm hùwa

‘an extremely big horse’

àwai jaurò kùuli

‘a very sweet soup’

madùwà màar̃ǝm r̃àntu

‘an extremely big house’

5.1.2. NPs modified by two or more adjectives

<29>

A noun may be modified by more than one adjective. In my examples multiple adjectives are always placed after the head noun [15].

gàamà kuzvǝr̃r̃a bǝ̀lân

‘a tall, good-looking woman’

ùktlìik amat kwan bǝ̀lâncǝn

‘three beautiful girls’

gàtlaɓak bǝ̀lânnà kǝ̀lapiya

‘a good, peaceful settlement’

5.1.3. Strictly postnominal adjectives

<30>

There are some adjectives in GB which can be used attributively only after the head noun. This is the case, e.g. with ethnonymic adjectives, with fully reduplicated adjectives and adjectives that are modified by adverbial intensifiers [16].

tǝ̀r̃zǝnâ gàbàdài

*gàbàdàk tǝ̀r̃zǝnâ

‘Bade-type folktale/riddle’

jàkùwa ɓuwâ-ɓuwâ

*ɓuwâ-ɓuwǎk jàkùwa

‘reddish (orange) cap’

goorau jlǝrà pitta

*jlǝrà pittak goorau

‘a very bitter cola nut’

dùwu màar̃ǝm hùwa

*màar̃ǝm hùwak dùwu

‘an extremely big horse’

5.1.4. Headless adjectives

<31>

GB has no overt pronominal ‘one’ to accompany adjectives. If a head noun is deleted from a NP modified by an adjective, the surface result is a simple adjective. When the adjective is the only element that appears on the surface it can serve as the host for the previous reference marker. Headless adjectives may be the result of syntactic ellipsis, or because the head is inferable from the context.

(1)

Audù

ǝ̀lmǝ

madùwà

màar̃ǝm

Muusa

yi

talmì

Ø

ɗinɗiilà

Audu

build.COMP

house

big

Musa

TOP

AUX.build.SUB

Ø

small

‘Audu built a big house, as for Musa, he built a small one.’

(2)

nǝn

màsǝ

mootà

peetà

biin

Ø

pǝlkâ

bai

1sg.

buy.COMP

car

white

but.not

Ø

black

NEG

‘I bought a white car, not a black one.’

(3)

kǝ̀ɗau

zaniiwu

tàwàn?

Ø

hǝlàwu

dàma

Ø

gàamànakuw

surpass.COMP

gown.PRM

which

Ø

new.PRM

or

Ø

old.PRM

‘Which gown is better? The new one or the old one?’

(4)

atǝ

ɗàahwǝ

zanii

hǝlà

ɓiinà

Ø

gàamànak

ɓai

3f.

put.on.COMP

gown

new

but.not

Ø

old

NEG

‘She put on a new gown, not an old one.’

5.1.5. Number agreement

<32>

GB NPs containing attributive adjectives have the special feature that in the plural, there need be only one overt sign of plurality. Either the plural of the noun, the plural of the adjective, or a cardinal number greater than one can code the plurality of the NP. Leaving away modification by cardinal numbers, this leaves us with five possibilities to code plurality. The only combination which is not possible is a formally singular adjective preceding a formally plural noun.

noun sg.

adjective sg.

adjective sg.

noun sg.

1

noun pl.

adjective pl.

2

adjective pl.

noun pl.

3

noun pl.

adjective sg.

4

adjective pl.

noun sg.

5

noun sg.

adjective pl.

*

adjective sg.

noun pl.

<33>

However, acceptance of the five possibilities among language consultants was not consistent [17]. NPs where the noun and the adjective are either both singular, or both plural were always accepted. It is far from being clear why other combinations were sometimes accepted, and sometimes rejected. Below some examples with all possible combinations are given.

goomâk

màar̃ǝm

=

màar̃ǝmǝk

goomâk

‘big ram’

gòomǝn

kaalgǝ̀n

=

kaalgǝ̀nǝk

gòomǝn

‘big rams’

gòomǝn

màar̃ǝm

=

kaalgǝ̀nǝk

goomâk

‘big rams’

goomâk

kaalgǝ̀n

*màar̃ǝmǝk

gòomǝn

‘big rams’

jlǝ̂gmau

gǝ̀msǝ̀k

=

gǝ̀msǝ̀kǝk

jlǝ̂gmau

‘male camel’

jlǝ̂gmeetǝn

m̀sàt

=

m̀sàtǝk

jlǝ̂gmeetǝn

‘male camels’

jlǝ̂gmeetǝn

gǝ̀msǝ̀k

=

m̀sàtǝk

jlǝ̂gmau

‘male camels’

jlǝ̂gmau

m̀sàt

*gǝ̀msǝ̀kǝk

jlǝ̂gmeetǝn

‘male camels’

zawâ

kàdarà

=

kàdaràk

zawâ

‘short stick’

zawuwun

kàdarau

=

kàdaruuk

zawuwun

‘short sticks’

zawuwun

kàdarà

=

kàdaruuk

zawâ

‘short sticks’

zawâ

kàdarau

*kàdaràk

zawuwun

‘short sticks’

5.1.6. Number agreement with participial adjectives

<34>

According to Schuh (2007) in WB participial adjectives in their function as attributive adjectives do not agree for gender and number. In GB, although not obligatory, yet number agreement is still possible.

Gashua Bade

pagà gàtaatlak

‘broken shelter’

pagǝ̀gau gàtaatlak

‘broken shelters’

ǹdì gàɓatlak

‘wise person’

ǹda gàɓatlak

‘wise persons’

màlàpà gàr̃ajlak

‘wet palm leaf mat’

màlàlpǝ̀n gàr̃ajlak

‘wet palm leaf mats’

but

màlàpà gagàlak

‘old mat’

màlàlpǝ̀n gagàlàkcǝn

‘old mats’

kàm gàhǝ̀ɗak

‘dry farm’

kaamayat gàhǝ̀ɗakcǝn

‘dry farms’

Western Bade

ǝ̀fcaan gagwàɓa

‘wet mat’

ǝ̀fcǝ̀cǝ̀nǝn gagwàɓa

‘wet mats’

guɗkwan gànahwa

‘full pot’

gǝɗkaanon gànahwa

‘full pots’

5.2. Predicative adjectives

<35>

In GB adjectives can function as predicates in equational or identificational sentences [18]. As GB does not have a copula, the adjective is immediately juxtaposed to the subject. In the same way nouns can be juxtaposed to a subject in equational sentences.

acî màar̃ǝm

‘he is big’

acî maalǝ̀m

‘he is a teacher’

However, there are at least two syntactic reasons to separate noun phrases as predicates from adjectivial phrases as predicates:

  1. NPs obligatorily require number agreement between the subject and the predicate, whereas APs do not.

  2. APs can be modified by certain adverbs, e.g. r̃àntu, huwà, ǹgǝla, jaurò, gàawa.

These differences in the syntactic behaviour of NPs and APs are also major reasons to identify separate word classes, i.e. a word class of nouns and a word class of adjectives.

predicate = plural

predicate = singular

akcì kaalgǝ̀n

akcì màar̃ǝm

‘they are big’

akcì Badàyat

*akcì Badài

‘they are Bade’

(5)

maduwà

m̀cau

màar̃ǝm

hùwa/r̃àntu

house

det

big

very

‘This house is very big.’

(6)

ǝ̀bzǝ̀ku

kazàálì

gàkwsàɗak

ǹgǝla

today

heart.his

spoiled

very

‘Today he is very angry.’

6. Conclusions

<36>

In the previous chapters some semantic, morphological, and syntactic features of adjectives in GB have been illustrated. Following Dixon (2004) we put forward the hypothesis that GB has a distinct word class of adjectives which can be set apart from other word classes. Although morphologically simple adjectives cannot be neatly distinguished from nouns (i.e. they look like nouns, form plurals essentially like nouns, and in attributive pre-head position they use the same genitive linker as nouns), there are, nevertheless, semantic and syntactic criteria to define a class of adjectives.

<37>

According to Dixon (2004:2) “a lexical root cannot be assigned to a word class on the basis of its meaning’. However, he continues that ‘word classes can be identified between languages (and assigned the same names) on two criteria – similarity of syntactic function and similarity of meaning” (Dixon 2004:3). Similarly, Givón (2001:49) states that:

“…membership in each major word-class is not defined by a single (Platonic) necessary-and-sufficient feature, but rather by three baskets of criteria:

Semantic criteria: The kind of meanings (‘semantic features’) that tend to be coded by words of a particular class.

Morphological criteria: The kind of bound morphemes – both grammatical and derivational – that tend to be affixed to words of a particular class.

Syntactic criteria: The typical position(s) in the clause the words of a particular class tend to occupy.”

<38>

We have seen in paragraph 2 that GB has a fair number words which are obviously not derived from other word classes (thus primary adjectives), and which have meanings typically associated with the word class adjective. Out of Dixon’s (2004) thirteen semantic types primary adjectives are attested in nine categories, some of which are typically associated with large adjective classes. We may also conclude that GB does not qualify as a language with a closed set of adjectives in the sense of Segerer (2008), i.e. less than 30 primary adjectives. In fact GB has an open adjective class which includes loanwords from neighbouring languages, especially Kanuri.

<39>

As already mentioned, in GB adjectives cannot be neatly distinguished from nouns on morphological grounds, however, what nevertheless sets them apart from nouns is the fact that in GB nouns have intrinsic gender. This is shown by agreement, e.g. with demonstratives, possessive linkers, and pronouns. In contrast to this, GB adjectives do not vary for gender. Pluralization of adjectives and nouns is essentially subject to identical patterns, and some derivations may create either adjectives or nouns. However, there is at least one derivation which is restricted to derive intensified adjectives out of “normal” adjectives. By the same token derived statives typically have the function of predicative adjectives, and in no way they can be used nominally. Morphological evidence in favour of a distinct adjective class also comes from comparison with WB. In WB nouns in their citation, or indefinite form take nunation, whereas adjectives are always cited without nunation.

<40>

What is probably most important is the fact that adjectives in GB have syntactic properties that set the apart from nouns. First of all a noun cannot modify another noun without being linked by a genitive marker, i.e. whereas there are alternative constructions for linking a head noun with an adjective modifier, only one of these constructions would also apply for head noun and noun modifier. Thus, ‘adjective1 genitive-linker noun2’ can also be expressed as ‘noun2 adjective1’, but ‘noun1 genitive-linker noun2’ cannot be expressed as ‘noun2 noun1’. Secondly, number agreement plays a crucial role when it comes to distinguishing adjectives and nouns as predicates. Whereas predicative nouns have to agree in number with the subject of the sentence, adjectives may be used in their singular form even if the subject is plural.

<41>

In favour of an adjective class we may finally bring in another comparative remark from WB where a couple of verbs are attested obviously being derived from adjectives, and not the other way round, e.g. in WB bìitlàatu v. ‘redden, become red’ < bìitla adj. ‘red’, bòorìitu v. ‘become large, attain full strength’ < booriyò ‘giant’, and dàmtòotu v. ‘draw near’ < dàmto adj. ‘near’.

References

Dagona, Bala Wakili 2004

Bade-English-Hausa Dictionary (Western Dialect), ed. by Russell G. Schuh. Potiskum: Ajami Press

Dixon, R.M.W. 2004

'Adjective classes in typological perspective.' In: R.M.W. Dixon, & Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (eds.), pp.1-49. Adjective Classes. A Cross-Linguistic Typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Dixon, R.M.W. 2010

'The adjective class.' In: R.M.W. Dixon, Basic Linguistic Theory. Vol. 2., pp.62-114. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Frajzyngier, Zygmunt 2008

A Grammar of Gidar. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang

Givón, Talmy 2001

Syntax. Vol. I. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins

Jaggar, Philip J. 2001

Hausa. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins

Löhr, Doris 2002

Die Sprache der Malgwa (Nárá Málgwa). Grammatische Erstbeschreibung einer zentraltschadischen Sprache Nordost-Nigerias. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang

Lukas, Johannes 1968

'Nunation in afrikanischen Sprachen. ' Anthropos 63:97-114

Newman, Paul 2000

The Hausa Language. An Encyclopedic Reference Grammar. New Haven & London: Yale University Press

Schuh, Russell G. 1972

Aspects of Ngizim Syntax. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles

Schuh, Russell G. 1981

'Using dialect geography to determine prehistory – A Chadic case study.' Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika 3:201-250

Schuh, Russell G. 2007

'Bade morphology.' In Morphologies of Asia and Africa, ed. by Alan S. Kaye, pp.587-639. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns

Segerer, Guillaume 2008

Closed Adjective Classes and Primary Adjectives in African Languages. Halshs-00255943

Tarbutu, Muktar Musa 2004

Bade-English-Hausa Dictionary (Gashua Dialect), ed. by Russell G. Schuh. Potiskum: Ajami Press

Tröbs, Holgar, Eva Rothmaler and Kerstin Winkelmann (eds.) 2008

La qualification dans les langues africaines. Qualification in African Languages. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe

Wolff, H. Ekkehard 1993

Referenzgrammatik des Hausa. Zur Begleitung des Fremdsprachenunterrichts und zur Einführung in das Selbststudium. Münster & Hamburg: Lit

Abbreviations

aux

auxiliary

comp

completive

det

determiner

GB

Gashua Bade

gen

genitive marker

Kan.

Kanuri

neg

negation marker

prm

previous reference marker

sub

subjunctive

top

topicalizing particle

WB

Western Bade



[1] I gratefully acknowledge the sponsorship of the FWF (Austrian Science Fund) which financed me during the project ‘Dynamik sprachlichen Wandels in Nordostnigeria’ at the University of Vienna. My special thanks go to all my friends, colleagues and language consultants in Gashua.

[2] Note that for Hausa other authors, e.g. Jaggar (2001) and Newman (2000), have identified a class of adjectives which can be distinguished from nouns. “First, there are some derivations … whose sole function is to create adjectives, not nouns. Second, adjectives have syntactic properties that set them apart from nouns …” (Newman 2000:22).

[3] Data for this article predominantly come from the Bade dictionaries, i.e. Dagona (2004) and Tarbutu (2004), and from my own field work in Gashua between 2007 and 2010.

[4] Transcription: aa, ii, etc. = long vowel; a, i, etc. = short vowel; ǝ = high central vowel; à(a) = low tone; â(a) = falling tone; ǎ(a) rising tone; high tone is unmarked; ɓ, ɗ = laryngeal implosives; ’y = glottalized palatal glide; tl and jl = lateral fricatives, = apical tap/roll, c and j = palato-alveolar affricates.

[5] It appears that Bade dictionaries, i.e. Tarbutu (2004) and Dagona (2004), do not include many Hausa loanwords. Note, however, that data for the dictionaries were primarily collected in the 1960s and 70s. Although it is difficult to demarcate fully integrated loanwords from code-switching, my impression is that in present-day Bade Hausa vocabulary is much more pervasive than reflected in the dictionaries.

[6] Nunation in WB was first described by Lukas (1968). Historically nunation goes back to a definite determiner *-ni (cf. Schuh 1981:213).

[7] Historically words of the structure #ǝ̀CCV… go back to #Cǝ̀CV… if the two consonants form a permissible sequence. This change has affected all varieties of Bade (cf. Schuh 1981:227).

[8] Note that according to Newman (2000:24) Hausa also has an “open-ended list of noun/adjective items … which have dual class membership”.

[9] The base tone seems to be also low, if the verb began in a historically open *Cǝ- syllable, e.g. ǝ̀r̃du < *r̃ǝ̀du ‘crawl’, or ǹku < *nǝ̀ku ‘fill’.

[10] Unlike Hausa Bade has no copula, i.e. a noun phrase plus a predicative adjective can constitute a full sentence.

[11] Newman (2000) uses the term ideophonic adjectives for a subgroup of ideophones which pattern with normal adjectives in functioning to modify nouns in Hausa.

[12] Interestingly in WB it is the other way round, where reduplication of colour terms gives an intensified meaning, e.g. pǝlǝk-pǝlǝkà ‘very black’ < pǝlka ‘black’ (cf. Dagona 2004:64).

[13] According to Newman (2000:30): “the standard word-order pattern in Chadic is noun + adjective … Prenominal adjectives … probably began as N of N constructions …”

[14] Very often my language consultants preferred the postnominal use of attributive adjectives.

[15] I cannot determine whether multiple adjectives may also be placed before their head noun, as I didn’t explicitly check this with language consultants. By the same token I cannot say whether one adjective may occur before the head noun while a second one is placed after the head noun. This would be possible e.g. in Hausa (cf. Hausa mafàɗàacin kàre baƙii = a vicious black dog).

[16] I cannot say which simple adjectives may exclusively be in postnominal position. This would probably deserve a study which is based on a huge corpus. When it comes to the position of simple adjectives there is also much dialectal and idiolectal variation, e.g. some of my consultants accepted colour terms exclusively in postnominal position, whereas others allowed them in prenominal and postnominal position.

[17] Schuh (1972) makes a similar observation for Ngizim.

[18] Adjectives in GB are not gradable, therefore comparison is usually expressed by affirmative or negative sentences of the structure [X (subject) kǝ̀ɗau ‘exceed, surpass’ Y (object) Z (standard-of-comparison)]. The standard-of-comparison (Z) constituent is typically a property-denoting abstract noun, verbal noun, colour term, etc. The standard-of-comparison may be preceded by the preposition ii ‘to, towards, in direction to, with respect to, etc.’, e.g. Bàlaa kǝ̀ɗau Mammàn (ii) tâgwda ‘Bala is wealthier than Mamman’.

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