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Lexical categories in African languages: The case of adjectives word-class in Nyakyusa

Amani Lusekelo
Lea Mpobela


An endeavor to establish typical lexical categories in individual languages as well as a typology of word-classes yields contradictory conclusions. In this paper we provide evidence to substantiate the existence of an independent and indispensable open category of adjectives in the Bantu language Nyakyusa. An argument that Bantu languages possess a closed class of adjectives (Dixon 1982; Rugemalira 2008; Segerer 2008) is called to question by the large number of adjectives in Nyakyusa, which provide almost all Dixon’s core semantic types. In addition, adjectivization permits establishment of a vast number of adjectives which designate various property-concepts in the language. Such derived adjectives fit well the Dixon’s semantic types.    

Keywords: Lexical-words, Adjectives, Adjectivization, Word-classes, Nyakyusa