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A Morphological Classification of Kiswahili

Susan C. Choge


Many scholars have classified Kiswahili as a member of Niger-Congo family based on the genealogical classification of Bantu languages. This system determines languages genetic relatedness by use of lexicostatistics (Schadeber, 1986). For years, this classification system has guided linguists and anthropologists to understand, analyse, compare and group languages. It has also aided the understanding of the births and deaths of languages. However, this classification system tells us little about the structural relatedness of genealogically grouped languages. This relatedness is only captured by the Morphological system. Although this system has been in existence since 1800 before the genealogical classification, it has least been used to classify and describe many languages of the world. Few Kiswahili scholars have classified Kiswahili morphologically as agglutinative. However, their classification has not put into consideration other morphological classification types that can be deduced from Kiswahili morphological structure. The objective of this paper therefore, is to do an in-depth morphological classification of Kiswahili based on secondary data collected from two Kiswahili prose texts, namely: “Shamba la Wanyama” (translation of animal farm) and “Siku Njema”.

Key words: Morphological classification, morphoclass, agglutinative, isolating, polysynthetic, fusional, oligosynthetic.

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eISSN: 0023-1886