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Journal of African Languages and Linguistics

Ed. by Ameka, Felix K. / Amha, Azeb

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Volume 39, Issue 1


Agreement with locatives in Kinyarwanda: a comparative analysis

Jochen ZellerORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3878-2995 / J. Paul Ngoboka
Published Online: 2018-04-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jall-2018-0003


In Bantu languages such as Chichewa or Herero, locatives can function as subjects and show noun class agreement (in class 16, 17 or 18) with predicates and modifiers. In contrast, (preverbal) locatives in Sotho-Tswana and Nguni have been analysed as prepositional adjuncts, which cannot agree. Our paper compares locatives in Kinyarwanda (JD61) with locatives in these other Bantu languages and demonstrates that the Kinyarwanda locative system is essentially of the Chichewa/Herero type. We show that Kinyarwanda locatives are nominal in nature, can act as subjects, and agree with predicates and modifiers. However, even though Kinyarwanda has four locative noun classes (16, 17, 18 and 25), there is only one locative agreement marker (class 16 ha-), which indiscriminately appears with all locatives, regardless of their noun class. We explain this fact by arguing that noun class features in Kinyarwanda do not participate in locative agreement; instead, the invariant class 16 marker expresses agreement with a generic feature [location] associated with all locatives. We offer a syntactic analysis of this peculiar aspect of Kinyarwanda locative agreement, and we propose a parameter that accounts for the relevant difference between Kinyarwanda and Chichewa/Herero-type Bantu languages.

Keywords: Kinyarwanda; Bantu locatives; agreement; noun class features; parameters


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-04-24

Published in Print: 2018-05-25

Citation Information: Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, Volume 39, Issue 1, Pages 65–106, ISSN (Online) 1613-3811, ISSN (Print) 0167-6164, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jall-2018-0003.

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