Verbal nominalization as a derivational process: The case of Akan

  • Kwasi Adomako Lecturer Department of Akan-Nzema Education University of Education Winneba, Ghana
Keywords: Verbal nominalization, derivation, Akan


This paper discusses the derivational morphology of the Akan language with particular focus on verbal nominalization through affixation (particularly prefixation). There are two ways through which this nominalization process can be realized in the Asante-Twi dialect of Akan. These are direct verb stem/base nominalization and nominalization after reduplication. The main difference between the two nominalization processes is shown to be that while in the former process, the nominal prefixes adjoin the verb stem directly to derive nominals, in the latter process, the same prefixation process also applies but after the reduplication process. I first discuss direct verb nominalization through prefixation and follow it up with the discussion of the nominalization process that takes place after reduplication has applied. We observe that in the case of the latter process, sometimes the nominal prefix adjoins another prefix; the reduplicative prefix, as studied by Dolphyne (1988), McCarthy and Prince (1995), Abakah (2004), etc. therefore, giving us the morphological structure: Affix1 + Affix2 + Stem/Base. The paper argues that in the direct verbal nominalization, whereas nominal prefixation has to apply first before nominal suffixation in the Asante-Twi dialect so that the former forms a constituent with the stem/base, in the reduplicated stem, the Affix2 (i.e. the reduplicative prefix) has to adjoin first the stem/base before the Affix1, which is the nominal prefix. A swap in the order/level of prefixation between Affix1 and Affix2 renders the output form ill-formed, a case for Siegel’s ([1974] 1979) Level Ordering Hypothesis. Following Siegel (idem), the reduplicative prefix, which does not cause a change in lexical category in Akan, is treated as a Class/Level 2 Prefix while the nominal prefix, which changes the lexical category of the stem and/or the reduplicated form, is a Class/Level 1 affix. In the end, this paper proposes a common template structure to account for affixation in nominalization of verbs in Akan by conflating what looks like two similar morphological structures for both nominalization of stem/base verbs and reduplicated forms, as follows: Affix1 ± (Affix2) + Stem/Base ± (Affix3) in that order.Verbal nominalization as a derivational process: The case of Akan

Author Biography

Kwasi Adomako, Lecturer Department of Akan-Nzema Education University of Education Winneba, Ghana

Kwasi Adomako (MPhil) is a Lecturer in the Department of Akan-Nzema Education at the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana.  His major research interests are in the phonology and morphology of Akan. Email:


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