Deverbal nominalization

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There are multiple clear deverbal nominalization processes attested in Sereer. Two of these processes - deverbal agentive nominalization and eventive nominalization - appear to be entirely productive and can apply to any verb, although this is presumably constrained by pragmatics to some extent.

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Deverbal agentive nouns

Agent nominalization occurs through a productive reduplication process whereby the body of the first syllable of the verb stem is reduplicated, and the vowel is lengthened if it was not already long.

Verb Gloss Verb Noun Gloss Agent Noun
refuse fañ naysayer opaafañ
gather clams faañ clamdigger opaafaañ
work jal worker ocaajal
read, study jang student ocaajang
steal guuɗ thief okuuguuɗ
cultivate xoox farmer oqooxoox

Agents nominalized in this way will almost always fall into the ox/w class, resulting in standard nominal mutation on the initial consonant of the reduplicant. Alternate forms indicate that the stem is susceptible to overapplication of the consonant mutation process, although this is dispreferred: ? opaapaañ 'clamdigger'.

It is possible to give a reduplicated agent noun an inanimate referent:

ambeel a-refa o-mee-meleƈ
(lake 3RD-COP ox-NOM-sparkle)
‘The lake is a sparkler.’

This construction carries an anthropomorphic sense. Some verbs can undergo this nominalization process with a non-human agent; these nouns are lexically determined. Nonhuman agent nominalizations occur in the n/k noun class, rather than the human ox/w class.

Verb Gloss Verb Noun Gloss Agent Noun Determiner
fly yet flying person
insect
oyeeyet
yeeyet
oxe
ne

Eventive nouns

Any verb may become an instantial or eventive noun with the addition of the prefix a-. The initial consonant of the verb stem undergoes standard nominal mutation if applicable. Additionally, if the final consonant of the verb stem is a voiced implosive, it also undergoes mutation, becoming voiceless. The resulting noun is invariably in the al/ak noun class.

verb gloss noun gloss
ret go atet trip, instance of going
fañ refuse apañ refusal
tos gather manure atos pile of manure
piis draw a line apiis line
gim sing akim song
weʄ swim abeƈ a swim, swimming
deɓ rain ateƥ rain

Resultative nouns

Some verbs become resultative nouns with the addition of either the prefix o-, putting it in the ol/ax noun class, or fa-, putting it in the f/k noun class. The distribution of verbs to these classes is unpredictable.

verb gloss noun gloss
gim believe ogim belief
fen lie ofen lie
ŋas play faŋas game
lay say falay utterance, thing said

Instrumental nouns

Some verbs become instrumental nouns with the application of prenasalized verbal mutation on the initial consonant of the verb stem, if possible. The resulting noun is invariably in the n/k noun class.

verb gloss noun gloss
ruus shave nduus shaving knife
rabid pay ndabid payment
jaw cook njaw process of cooking
cit give cit gift

Nominalization with derivational verbal affixes

It is possible in Sereer to nominalize verbs that already have derivational morphology. These deverbal nominalizations have particular characteristics.

Nominalization of -ir verbs

Verbs with the reciprocal -ir suffix can be nominalized to refer to instrument nouns that help with the execution of the verb (in other words, tools). These nouns are always morphologically and semantically plural in number (initial consonants therefore undergoing standard nominal mutation, and fall into the k noun class.

verb gloss noun gloss
jal work calir tools of a trade
weʄ swim beʄir swimming aids
jaw cook cawir cooking utensils

Nominalization of -el verbs

Verbs with the passive -el suffix can be nominalized to refer to patient nouns of the verb. These nouns are always morphologically and semantically plural in number (initial consonants therefore undergoing standard nominal mutation, and fall into the k noun class.

verb gloss noun gloss
jal work calel tasks
jaw cook cawel cooking ingredients

Nominalization of -oox verbs

Like all other verbs in Sereer, verbs with the reflexive -oox suffix can be nominalized to refer to an instance of the verb taking place (Eventive nouns). When they do so, the -oox suffix changes to -ax.

verb gloss noun gloss
disoox sneeze atisax sneeze
'oqotoox cough a'oqotax cough
wirkiloox somersault abirkilax somersault
soocoox brush asoocax toothbrush

The meaning of asoocax 'toothbrush' is presumably a lexical exception.

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