Home The Morphosyntax of Bantu Nouns

Project Director: Tarald Taraldsen

This Afranaph Sister Project is an outgrowth of an investigation of the class prefixes on Bantu nouns using the formal relations between different kinds of agreement markers and subparts of the nominal prefixes as a window onto the underlying morphosyntactic structure of the class prefixes on nouns. This led to analyses formulated within a nanosyntactic framework which associate the morphemes occurring in nominal prefixes with complex syntactic structures. This work also yielded some insight into the construction of pronouns and demonstratives in Bantu.

Currently, our research efforts are in part directed towards improving on those initial analyses both on the conceptual and the empirical side. As part of this, we will need to focus more on getting data from Bantu languages outside the Nguni languages that provided our initial data base. We also want to deepen our understanding of how class prefixes and agreement markers interact with their syntactic environment. On the one hand, this concerns the alternation between different “allomorphs” of the agreement markers, e.g. the relative distribution of the class 1 subject agreement markers a and u, which seems to be conditioned by the clause type the verb finds itself in. On the other hand, we want to see to what extent the presence/absence of the augment, realized as the initial vowel in Nguni, correlates with interpretive and syntactic properties, and to what extent the alternation between augmentless and complete forms have any counterpart in Bantu languages that lack initial vowels. Therefore, we will shift our empirical focus away from paradigms and increasingly concentrate on the syntactic and semantic properties of sentences.

Since our research will now lead us to investigate things like the difference between clauses in the participial mood, the subjunctive mood and the principal mood, the structure of relative clauses, the structure of negation and scope properties, to mention just a few, we expect that our research interests will coincide enough with those of other potential Afranaph users that our empirical results will be useful also to them.

Those interested in serving as native-speaker linguist consultants for this project should begin by consulting the Noun Class Prefix Questionnaire (NCPQ), which can be viewed and downloaded below or on the Become a consultant page. Those who decide to participate should then follow the instructions on the Become a consultant page, where details concerning how to participate (and remuneration) are provided. If you do decide to become a consultant, be sure to send a consent form which can be downloaded on that page.

NCPQ [pdf] [doc]

This ASP is located at the Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics at the University of Tromsø . It is funded by Tromsø Research Foundation and the University of Tromsø, and run by Tarald Taraldsen in collaboration with Michal Starke .