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Yoruba names and gender marking


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Olanik Ola Orie
Tulane University
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Anthropological Linguistics

Yoruba Names and Gender Marking


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Source: Anthropological Linguistics, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Summer, 2002), pp. 115-142
Published by: The Trustees of Indiana University on behalf of Anthropological Linguistics
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Yoruba Names and Gender Marking

OLANIKEOLA ORIE

Tulane University
Abstract.
Attributive names constitute the principal locus of gender distinction in Yoruba. Masculine names have the tone pattern LLH and contain
two monosyllabic verbs denoting semantic themes such as bravery and intentional possession; in contrast, feminine names have LLH or LHH tone patterns
and contain verbs reflecting themes involving nurturing. These properties are
analyzed as resulting from the interaction of phonology, morphology, syntax,
and semantics. Furthermore, differences in the frequency of masculine and
feminine names are analyzed as following from markedness. Finally, whereas
frequency,femininity, and aesthetics play some role in the selection of feminine
names, semantics plays the dominant role.
Gender is a term used to classify nouns as masculine,
1. Introduction.
feminine, and neuter. Two types of gender marking occur crosslinguistically:
grammatical gender and natural gender. Grammatical gender regulates gender
agreement between words, whereas individual words carry natural gender
information. French exhibits grammatical gender. Hence, cooccurring articles
and nouns must agree with respect to gender. On the other hand, English does
not impose gender agreement on cooccurring words, but it exhibits natural
gender, which is seen only in third-person singular pronouns and a few words
such as prince/princess and actor/actress. Although gender is marked in many
languages, some languages do not classify nouns or pronouns in terms of gender.
Yoruba (of the Benue-Congo family, Nigeria) is considered an example of such a
language; it classifies pronouns in terms of person and number (Bamgbose 1966;
Awobuluyi 1978), but not on the basis of gender. Furthermore, there are no
affixes that contrast nouns in terms of gender.
While it is true that gender is not a general property of Yoruba nouns, there
is evidence for gender marking in personal attributive names. According to
Oyetade (1991), two tonal patterns are used in forming attributive names:' lowlow-high (LLH) and low-high-high (LHH).2 The LLH pattern is the most common and is used for both masculine and feminine names. This form is derived by
prefixing a low-toned A to a sequence of two monosyllabic verbs, as in table 1
below. The LHH pattern is also derived by attaching a low-toned A to two
monosyllabic verbs, resulting in forms that are feminine names, such as those in
table 2.3
115

116

ANTHROPOLOGICAL
LINGUISTICS

44 NO. 2

Table 1. Masculine and Feminine Names Derived with the LIH Tone Pattern
MASCULINE

FEMININE

A-ji-gbd

A-l--ki

PREF-fight-carry

PREF-emerge.uniquely-pamper

A-lk-ni
PREF-emerge.uniquely-possess

A-we-ki
PREF-bathe-pamper

A-kin-bt
PREF-meet.intentionally-born

A-be-ki
PREF-beg-pamper

A-yin-de
PREF-praise-arrive

A-yin-lke
PREF-praise-pamper

Table 2. Feminine Names Derived with the LHH Tone Pattern

A-gb-lki
PREF-carry-pamper

A-to-ke
PREF-nurture-pamper

A-j(-ki
PREF-wake.up-pamper
A-ni'-ki
PREF-possess-pamper

This article addresses three issues related to the data in tables 1 and 2. The
first concerns the characterization of the gender markers: which properties supply the gender distinction? Oyetade proposes that gender marking is derived
from the semantics of the verbs contained in the name and from the two tonal
patterns LLH and LHH. The article argues that these two properties are necessary but not sufficient to account for gender marking. The existing account does
not explain why only a verb phrase with a serial verb construction is a valid
base. In addition, it does not explain why the serial verb must contain exactly
two monosyllabic verbs. Since Yoruba is a serializing language, which allows
two or more verbs to occur in a sequence within a sentence (see, e.g., Bamgbose

1974; Oyelaran 1982;Awoyale 1988), why is it impossible to have an attributive


name with more than two monosyllabic verbs? To explain these restrictions, it is
proposed that the tonal and semantic account must be supplemented by syntactic and prosodic requirements, which make a serial verb constituting a binary
foot the optimal base of prefixation. Analyzing the base of prefixation as a constituent governed by prosodic and syntactic constraints demonstrates, contrary
to the proposal of Selkirk (1986), that prosodic-based processes cannot always be
defined in purely prosodic or morphoprosodic terms.
The second issue is why the LLH pattern is more common than the LHH
pattern. It is argued that the masculine pattern is the more common pattern

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OLANIKE
OLAORIE

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because it is the unmarked form. Hence, both masculine and feminine attributive names can be derivedfrom it. The LHH pattern is less commonbecause it
is the marked form, the form reserved exclusively for creating feminine attributive names. That is, the use of the feminine tonal pattern provides more specific
informationand rules out the possibility of masculine reference,whereas the use
of the masculine tonal pattern does not exclude the possibility of feminine
reference (Baker 1992).
The third issue is sociolinguistic in nature. The specific question addressed
is the following: given that female names can be derived from the male-based
LLH tonal pattern and the exclusively female-basedLHH tonal pattern, on what
basis do parents choose names for girls from one set or the other?4In addressing
this question, I show that the flexibilityof name selection for girls results from a
range of factors, including frequency, femininity, aesthetics, and semantics.
First, frequency is a factor because the LLH tonal pattern is considered more
common and popular than the LHH tonal pattern. Second, femininity and aesthetics are contributing factors since the LHH pattern is viewed as more
feminine-sounding and attractive than the LLH pattern. Third, semantics is a
factorbecause some parents select names just to express the circumstancessurrounding the birth of a child, to describe who the child is, or to convey their
wishes for a child. For such parents, the tonal pattern may be LLH or LHH. Of
all these factors, however, semantics is the most important; even when factors
such as frequency,femininity, and aesthetics play a role in the selection of girls'
names, meaning is still crucial for all parents.
The structure of the article is as follows. In section 2, sociolinguistic background is briefly reviewed. Section 3 discusses traditional naming among the
Yoruba. In section 4, the strategies for name formation in Yoruba are presented
and the differences between personal names, attributive names, and nicknames
are outlined in detail. Section 5 provides an account of attributive names showing the interaction of morphosyntactic, tonal, semantic, and prosodic properties.
In section 6, the difference in the frequency of LLH and L;HHnames is explained
as following from markedness factors. Section 7 examines the issue of name
selection for girls, and section 8 gives the conclusion. Finally, sample lists of
attributive names are provided in appendices 1 and 2.
The Yoruba of West Africa are one of the
2. Sociolinguistic
background.
of
the
Sahara (Bascom 1969). Their language,
south
largest ethnic groups
Yoruba, although predominantly spoken in Nigeria,5 is also spoken in Benin and
Togo (see map 1). In total, there are over twenty million speakers.6
Yoruba has more than twenty distinct dialects. Examples are Oyo, Ijesa,

Ife, Igbomina, Ijebu, Egba, Awori, Ondo, Ekiti, Ilaje, Ikale, Owo, Ijo-Apoi,Owe,
Ijumu, Yagba, Gbede, Bunu, Shabe, and Ketu (see map 1).7 Aside from these
dialects, there is a standard dialect (Standard Yoruba),8 which is taught in

Nigerian schools and used in literary writing. It is also the official language in

118

ANTHROPOLOGICAL
LINGUISTICS

44 NO.2

southwestern Nigeria, and it is one of the major languages of the media (used in
newspapers, radio, and television broadcasting).

ISHA

SHABE

I/yrie

OYO
shabe

ANA
Atakpame

TOGO
monR.

CRIdR.

IDASBA

IGBOMINA
YAGBAI

AWORO
BUNU

Its

OgunR.
OYO

UESA
Ilesa
Ibadan
KETU
EKITI
wemeR ketu
Ebeokuta
Ife
owu
Owo
EGBA
Ondo
UISBU
BENIN EGBADO
OWO
ONDO
Ijebu-ode
IFONYIN

AWORI
Lagos
OSSER

NIGERIA

ILAJE
ITSEKIRI
Wari
NigerR.

20

40

60

80 100

scale b mles

Map 1. The location of Yorubadialects in Nigeria, Benin, and Togo.


3. Traditional naming among the Yoruba.
Before 1840, when Christian
names and surnames began to be used, a Yoruba person's full name had three or
four elements (Oduyoye 1972; Oyelaran 1976): ordko 'personal name',
ori'ki zbiso 'attributive name',9 oriki Alije 'nickname','o and oriki or'le 'totemic
name'. Some examples are given in table 3.
Table 3. Traditional Yoruba Names
PERSONAL
NAMES
Ad6yemi
'crown befits me'

Omddll6
'child arrives home'
Akinola
'valor of high status'
Abiddin
'child born during
a festival'

ATTRIBUTIVE
NAMES

NICKNAMES

Albi
'child who emerges
singularly to be born'
Agbdke
'child to be carried
and pampered'
Akiznjif
'child who brings
awakening'
Alik6
'child who emerges
to be pampered'

Eyinfinjowd
'white teeth'

NOTE:
P6l6 denotes a type of facial marking.

TOTEMIC
NAMES
Qkin
'peacock'

Awele.gb
'tall and slim'

Opo

P6ldyejti
'pele befits face'

Erin
'elephant'

Ayiluko
'plump woman'

Agbo
'ram'

'pillar'

QLANIKE
OLAORIE

2002

119

In general, people are universally known by their personal names and are
known familiarly by their attributive names (Johnson 1969:87). Nicknames are
like attributive names because they are usually used by people who are familiar
with the owner of a name. There are rules regulating the use of these names. For
example, whereas everyone may address individuals by their personal names,
only elders can address children by their attributive names when they want to
express a feeling of endearment or affection for a child (Johnson 1969:85). In
contrast, it is considered rude for a younger person to address an older person by
his or her attributive name.
Unlike personal names, attributives, and nicknames, which belong to individuals, totemic names belong to families. In addition, they have accompanying
poems, which encode information such as family origin, behavior and character,
profession, religion, social status, and taboos (Babalola 1967). To fully identify a
person, the names described above are mentioned and connected to the names of
an individual's parents, as in (1).
(1) Omo~ld AgbdkeAwe.lgbd Opd,omo on Koldwpld,omoAd&itutt
'Omodel6Agb6k6Awelegb6 0p6, child of K9lawole,child of Adetutu'
Yoruba full names, like fingerprints, are unique to each person. In the words
of Johnson, "When the oriko (name), the oriki and the orile (totem) are given,
the individual is distinctive, the family is known, and he can at any time be
traced" (1969:87). In a North American context, the equivalent is a social security number (Oyelaran 1976). As is well known, a social security number is a
distinctive number that is uniquely assigned to one person, and all vital information about that person, including birth, health, education, profession, residence, tax history, vehicle ownership, and so on, is documented using the
assigned number. Access to a social security number provides access to the life of
an individual.
In modern times, Yoruba naming has changed, especially among the educated. For example, it is common to find people with only three names-a first
name, a middle name, and a surname. Surnames are names of children's
fathers; first and middle names are usually personal and attributive names.
Children of Christians and Moslems are also given Christian- and Moslembased first or middle names, such as those in table 4.
Table 4. Names in Contemporary Times
FIRST

Adidayo.
Oldwindd
Filisia
Kirnmg

MIDDLE

Alsbt
Tem
Olidr6nki
Te'wogbade

SURNAME

Akinloldi
Fisold
Addwildl
Aydndald

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ANTHROPOLOGICAL
LINGUISTICS

44 NO. 2

In the following section, I address the issue of name selection and show that
personal names, attributive names, and nicknames are chosen based on factors
such as the circumstances surrounding the birth of a child, the type of family a
child belongs to, and the hopes and aspirations of parents. Totemic names are
not considered because they are inherited.
The choice of a name is a solemn under3.1. The choice of personal names.
taking for parents and grandparents because the Yoruba believe that one's
name can have a psychological impact on one's behavior (Oduyoye 1972:67).
Hence, much care is taken in the selection of names.
Name selection is driven by a number of considerations. For instance, a
name may reflect the circumstances surrounding the birth of a child. To illustrate, there are special names for twins and for children born after them. The
first-born twin, who is thought to be younger because he or she was sent ahead
to explore the world by the second-born twin, is called Tiydwo (from to aye wo)
'taste or explore the world'. The second-born twin, who is thought to be older
because he or she waited patiently for the first-born twin to explore the world, is

called Kehinde 'last to arrive'. A child born immediately after twins is given the
name idwdti 'child born after twins' and the next child is Alibd 'child born after
after Idwdi'.
Names may be given based on the profession, religion, or status of a child's
family. For example, a child born into a family of artists is likely to have a name
that begins with ona 'art'; a child born into a family of diviners will have a
name beginning with ifi (god of divination); and a child born into a royal family
will have a name that starts with adk 'crown'. It is considered an oddity to find a
child from a family of hunters (ode) with a name beginning with ade 'crown'.
Hence, the saying Ild la di wo ki t66 somo idirdko'One must look at a family (its
status, profession, and religion) before giving a child a name'.
Furthermore, a name may reflect the aspirations of parents for their children. For example, if a woman has several children in succession who die at
childbirth, such children are known as Abikd 'one who is born to die', a child who
wishes to travel back and forth between heaven and earth (Bascom 1969:74).
This child is likely to be given a name like Muilmod 'do not go again', Dir6jaye

'wait and enjoy life', or Kiiti 'one who cannot die'. These names show that
parents desire that their ibikad children would not leave them.
3.2. Choice of attributive names.
Like personal names, attributive names
may also depict the circumstances surrounding the birth of a child. For instance,
if a woman has several male children in succession who died at childbirth, a
surviving male child born after that experience is likely to be given the name

Ajhni'fight to possess', whereas a female child whom the parents waited for a
long time to conceive may be given the name Abebi 'child who was begged to be
born'.

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Attributive names may express what the child is, as dictated by the child's
orn 'fortune' (Oyelaran 1976).11 For example, Alike is a child that emerges
singularly (out of all the possible children that her parents might have had at
the time she was born) to be pampered, Adisd is a child who is believed to have
supernatural powers, which would make it impossible for any evil force to attack
him, and Adigtin is a child born believed to be perfect in every respect.
In addition, an attributive name may depict what it is hoped that a child will

become (Johnson 1969:85). For instance, Adaferis a male child whose parents
hope everyone will long to love him and Adake.is a female child whose parents
hope everyone will long to pamper her.
Unlike personal names, attributive names do not reflect the unique features
of the family. That is, it is impossible to retrieve information such as family
profession, status, or religion from an attributive name.
3.3. Choice of nicknames.
Nicknames are selected based on character,
physical appearance, profession, or achievement of the individual. Nicknames
are often used by women in addressing children who were born before they were
married into the family (Oyelaran 1976:228).12Although a woman may refer to a
child born after her marriage by name, she cannot address those born before by
name because they deserve respect on account of existential precedence. To
avoid a violation of this cultural norm, a woman must invent a nickname for
each senior child. We have already seen some examples in table 3. Other
examples are Eleyinjidege 'beautiful eyes', Ejffwimi 'gapped teeth please me',
Sabre'-dowd 'turn a needle into money (a tailor)', Athrf-oj6orunn-o-riMn 'head
does not allow the sun to shine (big head)', and Opele'fge-subd-ltwo-bwo-o-

fi-o-subdi-lodd-odd-fAya'a slim person falls on a plate, a plate is not broken,she


falls on a mortar and it breaks (a fat girl)'.
4. The structural properties of given names.
Although given namessimilar
in some respects,
oriki
and
orfki
ordiko,
Abiso,
Alfei--are functionally
their structural characterizations are different. According to Oduyoye (1972),
the structural composition of oriko 'name' may be as follows: two nouns, as in
table 5; a sentence comprising a noun and a verb phrase (comprising a verb plus
noun and sometimes additionally, a prepositional phrase), as in table 6; or a
verb phrase (comprising a verb plus noun and verb), as in table 7.
Table 5. Noun plus Noun Names
NOUN

NOUN

OUTPUT

olh

ife

oldiwa
oldwa

akin
wdtir

old
old

Oldoldwa
Ifeioldiwa
Akinold
Wdarold

GLOSS

'the high estate of God'


'the love of God'
'the valor of high status'
'gold of honor'

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44 NO. 2

ANTHROPOLOGICAL
LINGUISTICS

Table 6. Sentential Names


NouN

VERBPHRASE

ad4

wuokl~
dele
sina
jumoke

omo

oldi
old

GLOSS

OUTPUT

Adiwpld
Omoddild
Oldisi.n.
Qldjusm"6.k

'the crown enters the house'


'child arrives (at home)'
'the Lordopens the way'
'wealth accumulates to pamper
a child'

Table 7. Predicate (Verb Phrase) Names


VERBPHRASE

Mit~nmi
K6red4
Gbo.ldhin
Kdldwold

GLOSS

'do not deceive me'


'arrive with goodthings'
'exhibit honor'
'bring honor into the house'

The names in tables 5-7 reflect four unique properties. First, none of the names
is derived through affixation. They are mainly composed from lexical items.
Second, they do not reflect any prosodic restriction. In other words, they do not
have to be of a particular phonological shape to be well-formed. All that is required is that they comply with the rules of phrasal or sentential composition.13
Third, these names do not have a fixed tonal pattern. Fourth, most of these
names are gender neutral; that is, they can be used by males or females.14
Like oriko, oriki lizje 'nicknames' do not display prosodic restrictions, they
do not have fixed tonal patterns, and they are mostly gender neutral. Unlike
oriko, however, orizki&lkjeimay be derived through prefixation (Oyelaran 1976:
244) and concatenation of lexical words. Examples are shown in table 8.
Table 8. Structure of Nicknames
.Eldyinjd;-ge
owner.of.eyeballs-delicate
'beautiful eyes'

(noun phrase)

Sabr.d-dowd
turn-a.needle-into.money
'a tailor'

(verb phrase)

Eji-wit-mi
gapped.teeth-please-me
'one with gapped-teeth'

(simple sentence)

O.peigd-subd-lhwo- wo--f6d--6u
bibd-lodd-od6-f-ya
one-who.is.slim-falls-on.a.plate-a.plate-does.notbreak-she-falls-on.a.mortar-a.mortar-breaks
'a fat girl'

(coordinatesentence)

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OLANIKEOLAORIE

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A-pon-bdpore.
one-who.is.red-and.friendly.with.palm.oil
'a fair skinned person'

(prefixation)

O-pdldiige

(prefixation)

one-who.is.slim
'a slim person'

Finally, the properties of oriki abizso 'attributive names' differ from the
properties of ortiko and onri Alifje in four ways. First, they are derived through
prefixation only, specifically a low-toned A prefix. Second, what follows the prefix
is a sequence of verbs. Third, the names have fixed tonal patterns. Fourth, they
are divided along gender lines. Fifth, verbs denoting gender-based semantic
themes are usually chosen in deriving these names. For instance, the first verb
in a masculine name is a performative verb denoting notions such as bravery,
decisiveness, unique emergence, and praise; the second verb, which is resultative in nature, denotes possession. On the other hand, verbs denoting nurturing,
tenderness, adulation, praise, and beauty are chosen in creating feminine
names. Examples have been seen in tables 1 and 2. Further examples of the two
tonal patterns are given in tables 9 and 10.
Table 9. Further Examples of Names with LLH Tone Pattern
MIASCULINE

FEMININE

A-ji-di
PREF-fight-restore

A-w-ro6
PREF-bathe-adorn
(beautifully)

A-la-gbd
PREF-emerge-carry

A-bt-bi
PREF-beg-born

A-kn-jif
PREF-meet-wake.up

A-pe-ke
PREF-beckon-pamper

A-y"-ki
PREF-rejoice-round.about
Table 10. Further Examples of Names with LHH Tone Pattern (Exclusively
Feminine)
A-bd-ki
PREF-join-pamper
A-tin-ke
PREF-repeat-pamper
A-rf-kie
PREF-see-pamper

A-ji-ke
PREF-wake.up-shine

ANTHROPOLOGICAL
LINGUISTICS

124

44 NO.2

In summary, we see that attributive names are indeed distinctive with


respect to their phonological, syntactic, and semantic characterization. These
unique propertiesconvergein the verb sequence that follows the prefix to differentiate gender. In the next section, these properties are explained as resulting
from an attributive template whose well-formedness is regulated by morphosyntactic, tonal, semantic, and prosodicconstraints.
5. Attributive names and gender differentiation,
The goal of this section
is to motivate the canonical attributive name template. As will be shown, this
template comprises a prefix nominalizer and a verb phrase that is expressed as
two monosyllabic serial verbs. Since it is logically possible to have more than two
verbs in a serial verb construction, the verb phrase must be constrained to
exclude verb sequences involving three or more syllables. It is proposed that the

serial verb phrase must obey foot binarity, a prosodicconstraint,which limits its
members to two syllables or moras (McCarthy and Prince 1990). In addition,

given the gender-based tonal and semantic patterns observed in section 4, it is


proposed that the verb phrase is also subject to tonal and semantic constraints
(Oyetade 1991).
5.1. Motivating the morphological and syntactic requirements.
Yoruba
is a highly prefixing language (Oyelaran 1987; Owolabi 1995).'5 Therefore, new
words are derived from existing words by attaching a prefix to roots, stems, or a
given syntactic category. For example, i (here, a concrete nominalizer) and o/o516
(agentive nominalizer) are attached to roots that are verbs or verb phrases
containing verbs and their objects or adverbs.
(2a) a-lo
PREF-go

'going'
(2b) A-t'egun
PREF-step-climb
'ladder'
(2c) A-rin-kiri
PREF-walk-about

'wandering'
(3a) o-kti
AG.NMZ-die
'corpse'
(3b) o-le
AG.NMZ-lazy

'lazy person'

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ORIE
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125

(3c) o-sere
o-se-ere
AG.NMZ-do-play
'performer'
(3d) 6-jogbon
o-je-ogbomn
AG.NMZ-eat-wisdom
'professor'
On the other hand, oni (possessive nominalizer) is always attached to nouns or
noun phrases, as shown in (4a)-(4d).17
(4a) oni'le
oni

ile

POSSESSORhouse

'landlord'
(4b) onigbese
oni
igbese
POSSESSOR
debt
'debtor'
(4c) elewon
on'

ewon

POSSESSORprison

'prisoner'
(4d) ol6w6
oni

ow6

POSSESSORmoney

'wealthy person'
As mentioned in section 4, attributive names are also derived through prefixation. In order to derive an attributive name, the prefix i is attached to a verb
phrase composed of a sequence of two monosyllabic verbs, as in (5a)-(5d) (drawn
from tables 9 and 10).
(5a) A-khn-jfi
PREF-meet-wake.up
'person whom one meets and is awakened by'
(5b) A-yo-k4
PREF-rejoice-round.about
'person whom one rejoices around'

126

ANTHROPOLOGICAL
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44 NO.2

(5c) A-bd-ke.
PREF-join-pamper
'person whom one rallies to pamper'
(5d) A-nr-ke
PREF-see-pamper
'person that one sees and pampers'
The syntactic restriction that the verb phrase of an attributive name must consist of two verbs rules out verb phrases of other forms. Thus, verb phrases consisting of verb-object bases are not suitable for attributive names, as shown by
(6a)-(6c), nor are verb phrases consisting of verb-adverb bases, as shown by (7).
(6a) *A-rdW
A-rd-iW
PREF-stand-house
'heir'
(6b) *A-tenum6
a-te-enu-mo
PREF-press-mouth-attach
'emphasis'
(6c) *A-cdbrire
A-de-il-bd-ire
PREF-arrive-house-meet-goodness

'meeting fortune at home'


(7) *A-rin-kiri
PREF-walk-about
'wandering'
The contrast between permissible and ill-formed bases of prefixation is
explained if we characterize the morphosyntactic properties of attributive
names as in figure 1.
NP
a

VP

PREF

vi

Vj

Figure 1. Canonical attributive name.

This template shows that the nominalizing prefix a&1s


selects a VP that consists
of a serial verb construction.19Crucially, there must be only two verbs in this VP.

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OLANIKEQLAORIE

127

By having a template such as that in figure 1, forms such as (5a)-(5d) are


predicted to be well-formed, whereas cases such as (6a)-(7) are ruled out.
5.2. Motivating the tonal and semantic requirements.
Although the template in figure 1 correctly excludes forms such as (6a)-(7), it incorrectly allows
cases such as those in table 11.
Table 11. Forms Incorrectly Predicted to be Permissible by Morphosyntactic
Template
DERIVEDNOUN

*A-t'e-g~n
PREF-step-climb
'ladder'

TONAL
PATIERN
LLL

*A-f.-se
PREF-speak-come.to.pass
'incantation'

LLM

*A-pd-jo
PREF-complete-together
'reunion'

LHM

*A-n-yhn
PREF-own-select

LHL

'solicitude, aspiration'

What the examples in table 11 have in commonis that the tonal specificationsof
the verb phrase do not meet the required tonal specifications for the verb phrase
of an attributive name. That is, they are neither LH nor HH. Therefore, these
forms are disqualified.
Disqualifying the examples in table 11 on the basis of tone immediately
predicts that forms such as (8a)-(8d) (with LLH pattern) and (9a)-(9d) (with
LHH pattern) should be well-formed attributive names, but in fact, they are not.
(8a) *A-lk-yd
PREF-split-understand
'explanation'
(8b) *A-kA-yd
PREF-read-understand
'comprehension'
(8c) *A-yhn-mo
PREF-select-attach

'destiny'

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ANTHROPOLOGICAL
LINGUISTICS

44 NO.2

(8d) *A-fo-m6
PREF-jump-attach
'mistletoe, parasite'
(9a) *A-nr-fin
PREF-see-scrutinize
'an insult'
(9b) *A-s-ri
PREF-open-see
'secret'
(9c) *A-bi-ku
PREF-born-die
'one who dies again and again'
(9d) *A-wf-gbo
PREF-speak-listen
'obedience'
The major problem with (8a)-(9d) is that the semantics of the cooccurring verbs
is inappropriate for an attributive name. As indicated in section 4, the verbs of

attributive names are semantically restricted. For example, the first verb in a
masculine name is usually an action verb denoting semantic themes such as
bravery (jiA'fight') or decisiveness (kAn'meet intentionally or purposefully',yAn
'choose');the second verb is a resultative verb implying possession (ni 'to possess', gbe 'carry', mu 'take', bi'give birth'). On the other hand, feminine names
have verbs reflecting semantic themes involving nurturing (ke 'pamper', be
'beg', we 'bathe').
Combining the tonal and semantic restrictions, then, we see that forms such
as those in table 11 and (8a)-(9d) cannot be attributive names in Yoruba. These
restrictions mean that the following specifications must be added to the template as given in figure 1:
* A masculine name VP has a low-high tonal pattern; the VP begins with an
action verb denoting themes such as bravery, decisiveness, unique emergence, and praise; it ends with a resultative verb expressing possession.
* A feminine name VP has a low-high or high-high tonal pattern;20 the VP
must contain verbs reflecting semantic themes involving nurturing.
5.3. Motivating the prosodic requirement.
So far, it has been shown that
attributive names are subject to various restrictions-morphosyntactic,
tonal,
and semantic constraints. Recognizing the important role of these requirements
enables us to understand why only certain verbs and tones are licensed in the
verb phrase of the base of prefixation. This section shows that there is yet

OLANIKE
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129

another requirement, a prosodic constraint, which is needed to characterize


attributive names properly.
As illustrated by the attributive names in (10a)-(10d), the base of prefixation has a verb phrase with two monosyllabic verbs.
(10a) A-kitn-ji
PREF-meet-wake.up
'person whom one meets and is awakened by'
(10b) A-kin-fe
PREF-meet-love
'person whom one meets and loves
(10c) A-we-r6
PREF-bathe-adorn
'person who is adorned (beautifully) after being bathed'
(10d) A-du-ke
PREF-scramble-pamper
'person whom one scrambles to pamper'
Requiring the VP of an attributive name template to be a serial verb reflects the
strong serializing tendency of Yoruba. As shown by (11a)-(lc), it is possible to
have a sequence of two or more verbs that are not connected by an overt
conjunction within a single Yoruba clause (Bamgbose 1974; Oyelaran 1982;
Awoyale 1988).
(11a) Ade ra isu je.
ade buy yam eat
'Ade bought (some) yams and ate them.'
(11b) Ade gb
omo sd 19.
ade carry child run go
'Ade carried the child and ran away.'
(11c) Ade rd aso
jf
gbW w'o pdei oba.
ade saw garment steal carry wear meet king
'Ade saw a garment, stole it, carried and wore it and met the king in it.'
Given the existence of serial verb expressions such as these, one would
expect a sequence of more than two verbs to be possible in an attributive name.
However, as shown in (12a)-(12d), forms with three verbs are unacceptable.
(12a) *A)-kn-ji-fef

PREF-meet-wake.up-love
'person whom one meets, whom one is awakened by and whom one loves'

130

ANTHROPOLOGICAL
LINGUISTICS

44 NO.2

(12b) *Ai-kn-bi-fe.
PREF-meet-give.birth-love
'person whom one meets, gives birth to and loves'
(12c) *A-we-r-Te
PREF-bathe-adorn-pamper
'person who is adorned(beautifully) after being bathed and is pampered'
(12d) *t--dri-ff.-ke."
PREF-scramble-love-pamper
'person whom one scrambles to love and pamper'
Moreover, not all two-verb sequences are acceptable in attributive names.
Examples in (13a)-(13d) show that forms containing a monosyllabic verb and a
disyllabic verb are ungrammatical.
(13a) *A-pide-ii
PREF-meet-wakeup
'person whom one meets and is awakened by'
(13b) *A-we.-ddro
PREF-bathe-stand
'person who stands (beautifully) after being bathed'
(13c) *A-jijhdd-ke
PREF-scramble-pamper
'person whom one scrambles to pamper'
(13d) *A-kin-fer.fn
PREF-meet-love
'person whom one meets and is awakened by'
Interestingly, examples (10a)-(10d) and the unacceptable (13a)-(13d) are similar in several respects. Semantically, they are identical. Morphosyntactically,
they are also alike; each name is derived by prefixing i to a base formed of two
verbs. With the exception of (13d), the basic LLH tonal melody is satisfied by the
two sets of data.2' As can be seen, however, (10a)-(10d) are well-formed but
(13a)-(13d) are unacceptable as attributive names. What the forms in (10a)(10d) have in common is that each verb in the verb phrase is monosyllabic. In
contrast, in (13a)-(13d), there is at least one verb in the sequence of verbs that
has more than one syllable. That is, the VP has two syllables in (10a)-(10d),
whereas in (12a)-(13d), it has more than two syllables.
In order to account for this contrast, I propose the constraints in (15) and
(16), whereby the VP of an attributive name must be exactly two syllables long
and the VP must be a binary foot (see, e.g., McCarthy and Prince 1990, 1993;
Hewitt 1994).

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(15) Prosodic constraint on Yorubaattributive name bases: The base of prefixation for
deriving an attributive name must be a binary foot.
(16) Foot binarity: A foot is binary at the syllabic or moraic level.
Given these constraints, forms such as those in (12a)-(13d) are ill-formed
because foot binarity is not respected in the VP. In *A-werdke, given in (12c),
and *A-pde.-ji, in (13a), the foot has three syllables. In *A-jijhdu.-ke, shown in
(13c), there are four syllables within the foot; although one could group these
four syllables into two feet in conformity with the demand of foot binarity, such
a form is still unacceptable because the base of an attributive name requires one
foot, not two feet.
Diminutive reduplication provides evidence that the VP of an attributive

name is a binary foot. As demonstrated in table 12, diminutives are formed by


reduplicating a name, which is shortened to a binary foot (Orie 1997:146-47).
Table 12. Foot-based Process: Diminutive Reduplication
FORM
FULLNAME DISYLLABIC

AkinolA
WarAohild
Addewole
Oltidsin

Akin or Old
Wdrbor Old
Ade or Wold
Old or SinA

DIMINUTIVE

UNATTESTED

Akzinakinor OldolA
Wdrdiwurb
or Olioll
Acdad&or Wdlwwol
Oldolu or SindsinA

*AkinoldakinolA
*Wdridlidwuraoll
*Adwoladewole
*hisintdolusinh

One can observe that, in addition to reduplication, the tonal pattern of the base
is displaced by a high-high-mid-low (HHML) pattern, the tone of the diminutive.
Thus, foot reduplication and the HHML tonal specification are distinctive properties of the diminutive.
As the examples in table 13 demonstrate, attributive names can also be
turned into diminutives by reduplicating the last two syllables.22
Table 13. Foot-based Process: Diminutive Reduplication of Attributive Names
BASE

FORM
DIMINUTIVE

UNATTESTED

A-kin-jif
A-y-ki
A-bd-ki
A-r6-ke

A-kin-jif-kan-ji
A-y-kd-yo-ka
A-bd-kd-ba-ke
A-r-ke-ri-ke.

*A-kin-ji-akan-ji
*A-y6-kdi-ayokA
*A-bd-kd--abd-ke
*A-r6-ke-ari-ke.

The reduplicationpattern in table 13 provides strong evidence that the VP of an


attributive name is a binary foot. As we can see, the reduplicants of unacceptable forms have more than two syllables in violation of foot binarity and are thus
predicted to be ungrammatical.
Incorporatingthe prosodic requirement into the set of constraints already
established, the final set of requirements,which derive attributive names are as
follows:

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ANTHROPOLOGICALLINGUISTICS

44 NO. 2

* The morphosyntactic structure is [NPa[VPViVj]] (cf. figure 1).


* The VP is a serial verb and a binary foot.
* The VP of a masculine name has a low-high tonal pattern. The first verb in
the VP is an action verb denoting themes such as bravery, decisiveness,
unique emergence, and praise; the second verb, a resultative verb, denotes
possession.
* The VP of a feminine name has a low-high or high-high tonal pattern and
has verbs reflecting semantic themes involving nurturing (pampering,
pleading, bathing).

The characteristics of this template show that the VP base is the crucial constituent responsible for gender marking. As shown in sections 5.1-5.3, there are
other VPs that resemble the ones in the template in some ways, but are ungrammatical as attributive names because they do not exhibit all the necessary properties.
Finally, the analysis presented here necessitates a rethinking of one fundamental notion within prosodic theory, that the domain for prosodic processes
should be prosodicor morphoprosodicrather than morphosyntactic(e.g., Selkirk
1986; Inkelas 1990). While it is true that many prosodic processes apply within
prosodic and morphoprosodic domains in Yoruba (Orie 1997), I have shown that
attributive names at least demonstrate that a morphosyntactic constituent may
define the domain of a prosodic process. For instance, in a purely prosodic or
morphoprosodic account, the two-syllable size limit on the base of prefixation
would be explained as resulting from foot binarity. However, foot binarity allows
any sequence of two syllables to be a valid base. It cannot explain why only verbverb sequences are possible base forms and why verb-object sequences are excluded. As shown, an adequate account of attributive names must make reference to both morphosyntactic and prosodic domains.
5.4. Comparison with a previous analysis.
Having established that a
canonical attributive name template must include morphosyntactic, semantic,
tonal, and prosodic information, I consider an alternative proposal. In Oyetade's
(1991) account, attributive names are derived through prefixation of A to two
verbs, and the observed gender differences result from the tonal patterns and
from semantic restrictions on verb selection.
There are two major problems with this proposal. First, in accounting for the
morphological derivation of attributive names, Oyetade's account simply stipulates that the prefix h is normally attached to two monosyllabic verbs. No motivation or explanation is providedfor this stipulation. As shown in section 5.1, it

is possible to derive nouns by attaching this prefix to verb phrases of various


different forms:verb-verb,verb-object,verb-object-verb,verb-adverb,and so on.
Since attributive names cannot select all of these plausible bases, a principled
account must explain why the attested base is well-formed and why unattested

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133

bases are unacceptable. The existing account does not mention these possibilities, and it does not provide any principled proposal for distinguishing attested
and unattested cases.
Second, Oyetade's account gives no explanation for why forms such as
*A-p~ie-ji and *A-jijjdui-k, which meet the tonal and semantic specifications
of attributive names, are ill-formed. One might try to argue that these forms are
unacceptable because they do not contain two monosyllabic verbs, but this argument is flawed, since it provides no means of accounting for why two monosyllabic forms are necessary.
In this section,
6. Asymmetries in the function of gender tonal patterns.
of
attributive
names
is
considered.
As
noted
in Oyetade
a final unique property
(1991), the LLH melody may be used to create both masculine and feminine
names, whereas the LHH melody is used exclusively to derive feminine names.
Thus, in terms of frequency, there are more LLH-based names than L;HH-based
names. Interestingly, there are ILH-based names that may be used by males or
females, as shown in table 14.23
Table 14. LLH-based Names: Masculine or Feminine
MASCULINE

A-kiAn-mi
PREF-meet-take

FEMININE

ORFEMININE
MASCULINE

A-li~--ki
PREF-emerge-pamper

A-d-b
PREF-scramble-love

A-mo-pi
A-kin-ke
A-mo-b
PREF-know.before-born PREF-know-be.complete PREF-meet-pamper
A-kAn-bz
A-ko-ki
A-bb-kk
PREF-meet-born
PREF-meet-greet
PREF-beg-pamper
A-yin-dd
PREF-praise-arrive

A-yin-ke
PREF-praise-pamper

A-m"-ri
PREF-know.before-see

A-jt-nt
PREF-fight-possess

A-we-r6

PREF-bathe-adorn

A-y"o-fe
PREF-rejoice-love

A-di-grin
PREF-wrap-be.perfect

A-bg-b
PREF-beg-born

A-beg-fe
PREF-beg-love

Table 15. LHH-based Names (Exclusively Feminine)

A-gbe-ke
PREF-carry-pamper
A-to--ki
PREF-nurture-pamper
A-ji-ke
PREF-wake.up-pamper
A-nf-ke
PREF-possess-pamper

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ANTHROPOLOGICALLINGUISTICS

44 NO. 2

One may ask, is this asymmetry in frequency an accidental gap, or does it


follow from any principle of grammar? Let us first of all clarify that it would not
be reasonable to dismiss the observed pattern as an accidental gap. As noted by
Oyetade, "one of the tonal patterns discovered to be dominant in oriki Abiso
[attributive names] is the LLH pattern. It is by far the commonest . . . the
pattern is used for both male and female" (1991:58). He observes further, "the
second tonal pattern observed is the LHH ... names with this pattern are fewer
than those of LLH pattern. This pattern is for female only. I have not found a
single male oriki Abiso with the LHH pattern" (1991:59). As can be deduced
from these observations, there is a systematic robust pattern here. Dismissing it
as an accident amounts to claiming that the pattern is insignificant, which is
clearly not desirable.
Alternatively, the asymmetry may be explained as following from markedness. In languages such as English and French, masculine pronouns are sometimes used as universal signifiers that may have masculine or feminine referents. For example, in French, elles 'they' is used when all referents are feminine.

However, if one of the referents is masculine, ils 'they' is adopted. Since the
masculine form can be used for reference to both sexes, it is considered to be the
unmarked version (Baker 1992). On the other hand, the feminine form can only
have a feminine reference and is thus treated as the marked form.
By analogous reasoning, the asymmetry in attributive name tonal frequency
can be explained as resulting from markedness distinctions. The observation
that the LL;Hpattern is more common than the LHH pattern because both male
and female names are formed from it is explained if the LLH pattern is the
unmarked form-the universal generic form that may have both masculine and
feminine referents. The LHH pattern is less common because it is the marked
form, the form reserved exclusively for creating feminine praise names. Following Baker (1992), this shows that the use of the feminine tonal pattern provides
more specific information and rules out the possibility of masculine reference,
whereas the use of the masculine tonal pattern does not exclude the possibility
of feminine reference.
7. Factors governing the selection of feminine names.
In closing, I
address a sociolinguistic question. Given that female names can be derived from
the male-based LLH tonal pattern and the exclusively female-based LHH tonal
pattern, on what basis do parents choose names for girls from one set or the
other? In addressing this question, I interviewed ten Yoruba adults who are
parents of girls.24 The result of my research reveals that three major factors are
crucial for the selection of female attributive names--frequency and popularity,
femininity and aesthetics, and semantics. Of all these factors, semantics is the
most prominent because consultants consider it crucial even when other factors
seem to play a role. Each factor is considered in turn below.

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7.1. Frequency and popularity.


Of all the ten consultants interviewed, only
one considers frequency and popularity to be a crucial factor in selecting girls'
names. As pointed out by this consultant, who has two daughters with LLH
names, the attributive names of these girls (Ab'en and Awer6) have LLH tones
because that is the more common and popular tonal pattern. This view is in
harmony with the observation noted in sections 4-6 that LLH names have a
higher frequency of occurrence than LHH names because both males and females can use LLH names. Intriguingly, this consultant equates frequency with
popularity and notes that popular names are more appealing than unpopular
ones. However, he observes that meaning is also essential: his first daughter's
name is Abeni 'child whom one pleaded or begged to possess' because they had
several miscarriages before she was born; his second daughter's name is Aw.ero
'child who is bathed and adorned beautifully' because she is beautiful.
The second factor, which was suggested by
7.2. Femininity and aesthetics.
another Yoruba speaker who has two daughters with LHH names, is femininity
and aesthetics. According to this speaker, the names Agbeke. and Abdke. were
chosen for her daughters because they sound more feminine and attractive than
names such as Aduke. or Aweke'. In essence, this speaker views LHH names as
displaying femininity and aesthetics, factors that may explain why LHH names
are exclusively feminine.
Again, the semantics of attributive names was considered important: Agbeke
was chosen because her desire is that the child be carried and nurtured by all
and sundry; Abike. was selected because she felt that her daughter belongs to
the community and her nurturing should be community-based.
The third and final factor responsible for the selection of
7.3. Semantics.
female names is semantics. As pointed out by eight consultants, the meaning of
an attributive name is more important than the tonal patterns. These speakers
note that a feminine name may be LLH or LHH as long as it explains the circumstances surrounding the birth of a child or conveys the wishes of the giver of
the name. For these consultants, factors such as frequency, femininity, and
aesthetics are not crucial.
7.4. Summary.
On the basis of these findings, we see that the semantics of
attributive names is central to the selection of girls' names. Even when other
factors are involved, semantics is important. Table 16 summarizes the identified
patterns based on the three basic factors observed--frequency and popularity,
femininity and aesthetics, and semantics. Recall that even those parents who
mentioned factors other than semantics as important also rated semantics as
essential (sections 7.1-7.2).

136

ANTHROPOLOGICALLINGUISTICS

Table 16. Summary


Attributive Names

of Factors

FACTOR

Frequency and popularity


Femininity and aesthetics
Semantics

Responsible

for the Selection

44 NO. 2

of Girls'

PERCENTAGE
OFPARENTS
WHO
RATEDTHATFACTOR
ASCRUCIAL
10%

10%
100%

Finally, I should point out that I discovered two additional groups of parents
recently whose daughters' attributive names were selected by their parents or
grandparents. Whereas the parents in the first group do not know why a particular name was chosen, the parents in the second group do; their daughters inherited either their mother or grandmother's names. Consequently, for these
parents, none of the factors in sections 7.1-7.3 is relevant. The response of these
two groups is an indicator that the factors described in this section are not the
only ones that affect name choice. Further research may show that still other
factors play a role in the selection of female names.
8. Conclusion.
In summary, it has been shown that gender-based names
(oriki abiso) are unique in several respects. Morphologically, they are formed
through prefixation to a verb phrase. Syntactically, the verb phrase must consist
of a serial verb construction. Semantically, the first verb in a masculine name
illustrates themes such as bravery, decisiveness, unique emergence, and so on;
the second verb denotes possession. Feminine names, too, have semantic restrictions on verbs--only verbs reflecting nurturing (pampering, pleading, bathing,
and so forth) are selected. Phonologically, two restrictions apply. First, the tonal
melody of a masculine name is LILH,whereas feminine names may have LLH or
LHH tonal melodies. Second, the verbal base of prefixation must be a binary
foot, expressed as two syllables. To account for these properties, I proposed a
canonical attributive name template, which incorporates the morphosyntactic,
semantic, tonal and prosodic requirements mentioned above. The advantage of

this analysis over the alternative account is that it explains the attested patterns and rules out unattested forms.
As regards the asymmetry in the use of masculine and feminine tonal patterns, it is suggested that this results from markedness distinctions. In particu-

lar, the proposal is that the masculine tonal pattern is the universal generic
unmarked form; hence, it may be used of both male and female referents. In

contrast, the feminine tonal pattern is reserved exclusively for creating female
attributive names because it is the marked form.
Finally, the flexibility of name selection for girls is shown to result from a
range of contributing factors, including frequency, femininity, aesthetics, and
semantics. Frequency is a factor, since some LLH names are selected based on
the fact that the LLH tonal pattern has a higher frequency than the LHH tonal
pattern. Femininity and aesthetics are factors, because some LHH names are

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viewed as more feminine-sounding and attractive than the LLH pattern. Semantics is a crucial factor, because meaning, not tonal pattern, is crucial to some
parents in the selection of girls' names. Research shows that semantics is the
most important factor because the meaning of an attributive name is considered
crucial even when other factors are involved.
Appendix 1: Additional Examples of LLH Attributive Names
MASCULINE

FEMININE

MASCULINE
ORFEMININE

A-lk-de

A-la-ke

PREF-emerge-arrive

PREF-emerge-pamper

A-m-bi

A-kan-kle
A-mo-pi
PREF-know-be.complete PREF-meet-pamper

PREF-know-born

A-di-bi
PREF-scramble-born

A-kin-bi
PREF-meet-born

A-be-ki

A-ko--ki

PREF-beg-pamper

PREF-meet-greet

A-yin-dd
PREF-praise-arrive
A-ja-ni
PREF-fight-restore
A-jh-nz
PREF-fight-possess
A-dd-fe.
PREF-scramble-love
A-la-mu
PREF-split-take
A-kan-mu
PREF-meet-take

A-yin-kse
PREF-praise-pamper
A-we-ro
PREF-bathe-adorn

A-m-nri
PREF-know-see

A-yAn-fer

A-sh-bt
PREF-select-born

PREF-choose-love
A-lA-nt
PREF-emerge-possess
A-kin-nz
PREF-meet-own
A-si-ma
PREF-select-take
A-kin-dde
PREF-meet-arrive
A-ttn-d&i
PREF-lure-create
A-yhn-dd
PREF-choose-create

A-1a-b
PREF-emerge-born
A-di-gdin
PREF-wrap-be.perfect

A-pe-ki
PREF-beckon-pamper
A-be-bt
PREF-beg-born
A-b~-gbd
PREF-beg-carry
A-sun-kle
PREF-sleep-pamper

A-mo-kc
PREF-know-pamper
A-w~-ke
PREF-bathe-pamper
A-yo-nt
PREF-rejoice-own
A-y-ni
PREF-rejoice-pamper
A-be-nr
PREF-beg-own
A-si-nz
PREF-select-own
A-shA-k
PREF-select-pamper
A-b~-je
PREF-beg-answer

A-yo-fe
PREF-rejoice-love
A-b~-fe
PREF-beg-love

A-pE-fe.
PREF-beckon-love

A-mofe
PREF-know-love
A-sPF-fee
PREF-select-love

138

ANTHROPOLOGICAL
LINGUISTICS
A-khn-fe.
PREF-meet-love
A-yin-ld
PREF-praise-lick

44 NO.2

A-du-k?.
PREF-scramble-love
A-din-ni
PREF-sweet-possess
A-begf*

A-m-6*
awe) PREF-beg-fall.(in.awe)
PREF-know-fall.(in.
A-kin-6*
PREF-meet-fall.(in.awe)

A-ji-6*
PREF-fight-fall.(in.awe)
A-yhn-o*
PREF-choose-fall.(in.awe)
NOTE:*Themeaning of verbs with deleted consonants is unclear. Oyetade proposesthat
the deleted consonant in &mid and &beois w. If this assumption is true, then, the
and the compositionof Ab~ois PREF-beg-fall.
compositionofAmoo is PREF-know-fall
Appendix 2: Additional Examples of LHH Attributive Names (Exclusively
Feminine)

A-bt-ke'

A-jf-le~

PREF-born-pamper

PREF-wake.up-shine
A-gbe-kz
PREF-carry-pamper
A-pe-k~
PREF-gather-pamper
A-bd-lk1
PREF-join-pamper
A-t6-ki
PREF-nurture-pamper
A-t6-ni
PREF-nurture-own

A-nr-kle
PREF-see-pamper
A-nt-kei
PREF-own-pamper

A-ji-ke
PREF-wake.up-pamper
A-pin-~ke

PREF-take.turns-pamper
A-tin-k4
PREF-repeat-pamper
A-tuin-n'
PREF-repeat-pamper
A-fi-n
PREF-wake.up-own

A-t6-l1
PREF-nurture-shine

Notes
Acknowledgments. I would like to thank Akin Akinlabi, Victoria Bricker, Laura
Downing, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments, which improvedboth
the substance and the presentation of this article. Thanks also to James Welch for help
with the map. Special thanks to Olasope Oyelaran, who first showed me that my own
language is interesting and whose work on orintiand Yoruba morphologyis a rich resource. I am grateful to him for many fruitful discussions about Yoruba and about this
topic in particular.

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= agentive nominalizer,
Abbreviations.The followingabbreviationsare used: AG.NMZ
NP = noun phrase; VP = verb phrase; V = verb; PREF = prefix.

Transcription. The examples in this article are given in Standard Yoruba orthography. In Yoruba orthography, e = [e]; o = [o]; Vn = nasalized vowel; s = [U];p =
[kp]; an acute accent ['] = high tone (H); a grave accent ['] = low tone (L);no accent =
mid tone (M);a wedge ['] = rising tone; a tone-marked nasal = syllabic nasal.
1. Oyetade (1991) characterizedattributive names as personal praise names. Given
that these "praise"names do not always praise an individual (Oyelaran1976), I use the
terminology "attributivenames" instead (Johnson 1969).
2. Oyetade (1991:59)observes that there is one attributive name, Ajpk4,which has a
LMHpattern.
3. Masculine names with the LHH pattern are extremely rare, but do exist as
exceptions to the rule on feminine names. For example, while I was conducting this
research on this topic, some Yorubaspeakers pointed out the exception Aijiz7i
'one whom
one wakes up to salute.' They note, however, that this form is exclusively used for the
Creator, who is sometimes referred to as 'mother' in the expression ablyamp, aboji
gb~or gbo.ro 'mother, one who has a cloth sash, which is indefinitely long'. Qlasope
Oyelaran (p.c. 2001) also notes another counterexample-a nickname with a LHH
pattern, Arisi 'fearful person', which was used in addressing a man in a poem.
4. Many thanks to Victoria Bricker for raising this question.
5. The Yorubaof Nigeria are found in southwestern Nigeria, especially in the following states: .yo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, Kwara, Lagos, the western local government
of Kogi, and Edo.
6. According to Johnstone (1993), there are 18,850,000 speakers in Nigeria and
465,000 speakers in Benin. Yorubaspeakers in Togo are estimated at about 250,000. In
addition,there are several thousand Yorubain diaspora in Asia, Europe, the Americas,
and Australia.
7. Crozier and Blench (1992:111), based on classifications motivated in Akinkugbe
(1976) and Capo (1989), group these dialects as follows: Central Yoruba (Ife, Ijesa,
Ekiti), Northwest (Oyo, Qsun, Egba), Northeast (Yagba, Gbede, Ijumu), Southwest
(Shabe and Ketu spoken in Benin and adjacent border areas of Kwara and Ogun
States), Southeast (Ondo,Qwo, Ikale, Ilaje).
8. Because there are several resemblances between the .y9 dialect and Standard
Yoruba, it is commonly assumed that the latter originated from that dialect. But as
Bamgbose (1986) demonstrates, there is evidence that Standard Yoruba has properties
found in other dialects, such as Ijesa and Ekiti. Bamgbose's view is in harmony with
Fagborun's (1994) account of the development of Standard Yoruba. According to
Fagborun, Standard Yoruba developed among speakers of the Oyo dialect, who migrated from the northwest region to the south under pressure of Fulani expansion in the
early nineteenth century. These immigrants settled in large armed camps like Ibadan
and Abeokuta. From these mixed settlements, a koine, drawing on both Northwest and
Southwest dialect features, developed into what is now Standard Yoruba
9. As Oyetade (1991:55) observes, orik7ibis. names are common among Oyospeaking Yoruba. Traditionally, they are rarely used by the Ekiti, Akoko, Ondo, Qwo,
Egba, and Ijebu. However, in recent times, onriki&bisonames have been observed in
these dialect groups.
10. Although most people have nicknames (Adeoye 1969), it is clear that not everyone does, since I have found some people who do not have nicknames. This is therefore
considered an optional category.
11. Usually a babalawo 'diviner' is asked to reveal the lot of a child before or after
birth. During this consultation,the chart of the future of a child is laid out. Among other
things, the name of the child may be revealed at this time.

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12. A nickname may be inherited. For example, if a famous person is known by a


nickname, any child who is given the name of the famous individual will automatically
inherit the nickname as well. For instance, every person named AjAyzis referred to as
Ogdi oldi(Oyelaran 1976).
13. In Yoruba, the head of the phrase occurs at the beginning of a phrase and the
basic word order is SVO.
14. There are indications that common names are divided along gender lines, too,
but such distinctions are not absolute. For instance, names with the verb Ik 'to pamper,
nurture' tend to be feminine names (e.g., Olike'mi 'the Lord pampers or nurtures me'
is a typical female name). However, the name Bankem9 'assist me in pampering or
nurturing this child' may be used by both males and females. The only true exceptions
are forms beginning with akin, which is masculine because it denotes bravery. However,
among the Akure people, both masculine and feminine names may start with akin. The
same properties are also found in English personal names. For example, there are some
names that are not gender-specific (e.g., Brook, Tyler) and there are names that are
gender-specific, such as the use of flower words for female names (e.g., Rose, Daisy,
Violet, Lily). Thanks to Victoria Bricker (p.c. 2001) for pointing out the relevance of
English personal names.
15. There are a few ideophone reduplicative suffixes (Awoyale 1989), but nonreduplicated suffixes are unattested.
16. The agentive prefix varies harmonically, based on the harmonic value of the
initial vowel of the root. If the root has a [+ATR]
vowel, the agentive is the advancedvowel
[o],but if the root has a [-ATR]vowel, the agentive is a retracted vowel [3].
17. When oni is attached to nouns beginning in vowels other than [i], oni changes as
follows: the final vowel of oni is deleted, [n] becomes [1],and then the initial vowel [o] is
assimilated to the initial vowel of the noun to which oni is attached. A form like oni
?won > elewSn illustrates these changes. However, as seen in onf ile > onile, if the initial
vowel of the noun base is [i], the describedchanges do not apply.
18. This prefix is a concretenoun nominalizer(Bamgbose1986). It is fully spelled out
as a low toned Ain figure 1. to distinguish it from the mid toned a, which is also characterized as a concrete noun nominalizer (Bamgbose 1986:39).
19. Baker (1989) proposesthat object sharing is a unique feature of serial verb construction. That is, two transitive verbs in a serial verbal construction must share an
object that appears between them. For example, in Oldira Agbido je 'Olu bought some
corn and ate it', Agbido 'corn' is the object of ra 'buy' and je 'eat'. However, in attributive names, the object of the serial verb never appears between the two verbs. This
restrictionmay be forcedby the two-syllablesize limit imposedon the base of prefixation.
20. The proposal that the tonal specifications of the VP are either LH or HH raises
questions concerning satisfaction of the ObligatoryContourPrinciple (e.g., Leben 1973;
McCarthy 1986). As is well known, the ObligatoryContourPrinciple forbids the occurrence of identical adjacentelements. The tonal specificationsof attributivenames violate
this principle: masculine-based LLH has two adjacent low tones, and feminine-based
LHH has two high tones that are adjacent. As noted by Akinlabi and Liberman (2000),
although the Obligatory Contour Principle is respected between verbs and enclitics,
violations of the Obligatory Contour Principle are rampant in word-level derivational
processes in Yoruba. Since the formation of attributive names is a word-level derivational process, violation of the Obligatory Contour Principle by cooccurringtones is
therefore unsurprising.
21. That is, even though the tone pattern is LLH in (10a)-(10d), but LLHH or
LLLLHin (13a)-(13d), the basic pattern is the same--a LH sequence.
22. Given that attributivenames have a diminutive quality, reduplicationand tonal
displacement provide additional diminutive marking.

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OLAORIE

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23. The types of name in table 14 differ with respect to productivity.Whereas there
are many examples of purely masculine and purely feminine names, there are only a few
examples of names that can be both masculine and feminine (the third column). Note
however, that the crucial point here is that the LLH set has a broaderrange.
24. This is a small sample. The results are thereforetentative. All ten Yorubaadults
are educated and were interviewed in New Orleans. One reviewer suggests that femininity and aesthetics are factors in attributive name selection because the parents interviewed are Westernized. To evaluate the validity of this suggestion, it would be highly
desirableto comparethe response of Yorubaparents within and outside Nigeria in future
research.

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