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The robustness of Botne and Kershner aspectual classes in Nyamwezi

  • Ponsiano Sawaka Kanijo EMAIL logo


The framework proposed in the works of Robert Botne and Tiffany Kershner has been widely used to classify verbs in Bantu languages. In this framework, verbs encode events which consist of maximally three phases: onset (represents the coming-to-be phase), nucleus (represents the state change itself; can also be represented as a coming-to-be phase if the verb lacks an onset) and coda (represents the result-state phase). Hence, verbs are defined depending on which phases they encode and whether particular phases are punctual or durative. The phasal structures of verbs can be diagnosed using various tests. The application of these diagnostics to Nyamwezi (a Tanzanian Bantu language, [nym]) produces three significant variations. First, Botne and Kershner’s conception of statives as events with no phasal structure is not tenable in Nyamwezi. The tests show that in Nyamwezi, statives have structure. Second, some classes described in Botne and Kershner do not occur in Nyamwezi. Third, in Botne and Kershner’s works, classes are described depending on whether particular phases are punctual or durative. In addition to this characteristic, the classes in Nyamwezi can also be described depending on whether particular phases are dynamic or static, and whether the result state is permanent or reversible.

Corresponding author: Ponsiano Sawaka Kanijo, Mkwawa University College of Education, Iringa, Tanzania, E-mail:


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Published Online: 2021-09-11
Published in Print: 2021-09-27

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