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By William E. Welmers

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Extra resources for A Grammar of Vai (University of California publications in linguistics; v.84)

Sample text

It will be noted that, in the preceding two sections, the specific form has not been used with relational nouns, but that it has regularly been used with free nouns. Although this is not an obligatory pattern, it does reflect certain realities concerning the nature of relational and free nouns. For the most part, relational nouns may be thought of as specific by definition. Specific forms have been recorded in a few ca- ses, in the speech of Jay Foboi; Fr. Kandakai considers the specific forms acceptable, but not at all different in meaning from the nonspecific forms which he ordinarily uses.

1. Vai nouns fall into two categories, free and relational, a distinction which is typical of the Mande languages. , 'night', 'shark*)* Relational nouns, on the other hand, normally require an expressed possessor; by and large, they are "inalienable possessions," or what Heydorn refers to as "natural possessions:" blood relatives and certain social affiliates, body parts and one's name, and locative relationships such as the underside or inside of something. In Vai more than in many other languages, relational nouns may be cited in isolation, as /bo'o/ 'hand', but they are not used in context without an expressed possessor, except for special uses of a few of them.

The possessor of a relational noun is immediately preposed to it, with no additional marker for the possessive construction. , 'the dog's mouth' 'the man's father' The stem forms of pronouns are used as possessives with relational nouns. 3. theirs' The possessor of a free noun is followed by a morpheme /a/ in- dicating the possessive construction. , kaie a keqe 'the man's house' g fa a niie 'my father's cow' The combination of a pronoun with this morpheme /a/ is, however, here written without space.

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