Definiteness in Chiyao

  • Julius Taji University of Dar es Salaam
Keywords: Bantu, Chiyao, Definiteness, Familiarity theory, NP


The aim of this paper is to examine the linguistic devices used to express definiteness in Chiyao, a Bantu language of Southern Tanzania, Southern Malawi, and north-western Mozambique. The analysis is guided by the familiarity theory of definiteness, and is based on the data collected through audio-recording of traditional narratives which were later transcribed to identify utterances with definite NPs. Findings establish three main strategies of signalling definiteness in the language, which include morphological, morphosyntactic, and use of bare nouns. The morphological indicators of definiteness include subject and object markers while the morphosyntactic indicators include demonstratives, locative particles, possessive determiners, genitive expressions, and relative clauses. Bare definiteness is mainly expressed by nouns of inalienable possession, including those denoting body parts and family relations. These findings enrich the existing literature on definiteness in Bantu languages and inform future typological and comparative studies on this subject.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2026-6596