On the Emergence of a Splitting Negator in Yoruba

Mayowa Emmanuel Oyinloye


Relatively recently, a new negator, “Àbí...ni”, emerged in the conversational language of the younger generation of Yoruba speakers. This new linguistic form is termed in this paper as “splitting negator”, owing to the observation that it consists of two particles that are structurally circumfixed with a positive statement. The paper therefore attempts a syntactic cum semantic analysis of this lexical item in order to ascertain whether or not it should be “officially” admitted into the Yoruba lexicon. The data analysed in this study were obtained via researcher’s observation and supplemented by introspective method since the researcher also belongs to the social class of speakers who predominantly use the phenomenon under investigation. Among others, the study fundamentally establishes that this splitting negator is idiomatic as an isolated form and that it often expresses pragmatic ambiguity when it is used in discourse such that it is the context of use that normally determines its interpretation. The paper concludes by proposing that “Abí...ni” be granted linguistic license as a negator in Yoruba, as this will not only encourage lexicon expansion but will also serve as a new stylistic medium of expressing the opposite of a positive statement in the language.


Splitting negator; Àbí...ni; Particles; Circumfix; Yoruba lexicon

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/9140


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