Makhuwa non-subject relatives as participial modifiers

Jenneke van der Wal 1
  • 1 Leiden University Centre for Linguistics


Unlike relative constructions in other familiar Bantu languages, Makhuwa does not have any special relative morphology; neither does it have a regular subject marker in the non-subject relative. Rather, the pronominal subject is expressed by a possessive pronoun. Because of the partly verbal and partly nominal properties of the relative, I propose to analyse it as a participial modifier. The prefix on the relative participle is analysed as a pronoun, which makes the participial modifier function like an independent adjunct. The possessive form of the pronominal subject is the result of the genitive case on the subject assigned by ptcpP, in the absence of a subject agreement projection. The paper furthermore shows that three alternative analyses (“normal” relative, connective strategy and DP relative) fall short in accounting for the data of the non-subject relative in Makhuwa.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.

Journal + Issues

The Journal of African Languages and Linguistics was founded in 1979 and has established itself as an important refereed forum for publications in African linguistics. The journal welcomes original contributions on all aspects of African language studies, synchronic as well as diachronic, theoretical as well as data-oriented.