Issues on the Categorial Status of ‘Òun’ in Yorùbá
Received: Feb 01, 2012; Revised: May 18, 2012; Accepted: Jun 01, 2012
Published Online: Jan 01, 2017
This paper examines issues on the categorial status of òun in Yoruba grammar, particularly its status as conjunction. It draws insight from binding theory to show that in Standard Yoruba and other related dialects, such as Ìlàje, òun is constantly anaphorically bound by the first of the two nominal constituents it purportedly coordinates in line with binding rule and binding principle ‘B’ within the particular phrasal context where it is often analysed as conjunction. Relying on data from South-Eastern Yoruba dialects (Oǹdó and Ào) and a Central Yoruba dialect (Òmùò-Aráròmí) where there is clear cut evidence for two òun in the lexicon, one of which is non-referential unlike the òun in Standard Yoruba, the paper shows that the use of òun as conjunction in Ào, reported in Taiwo (2005), is not exclusive as there are other dialects in the language that do the same. The paper however provide additional evidence to demonstrate that the claim that òun is a conjunction in Yoruba based on the Ào data cannot be generalized to Standard Yoruba and other related dialects (e.g., Ìlàjė) where the non-referential òun found in Ào, Òmùò-Aráròmí, and Oǹdó dialects is absent. These make argument in favour of the so-called conjunction òun in Standard Yoruba (School) grammar being a 3sg pronominal anaphor compelling.