Analysis of the word-initial segment with reference to lemmatising Zulu nasal nouns
The process of lemmatising nasal nouns in the Zulu lexicon is problematic. The traditional method is to lemmatise a Zulu lexical noun by etymological noun-stem. This practice creates difficulties in harmonising lexical nouns with their syntactic application. Most authors and dictionary-makers are inconsistent in identifying the word-initial segment which determines the letter of the alphabet under which the lexical noun should be included. Consequently, dictionary users do not find Zulu dictionaries user-friendly. This article therefore proposes the principle of "a noun without initial vowel" as a method for lemmatising Zulu nasal nouns. It concludes that it is not necessary to delve into the derivational history of a lexical noun, but rather to focus on the product of the operation of morphophonological rules. The article also suggests the need to identify the distinctiveness of the segments of a syllable and to acknowledge that identical forms of a segment do occur at different segmental positions (initial, medial and final). Finally it is argued that the Zulu nasal noun class prefix is constructed according to an open syllable pattern defined by a general CV-formula based on a VCV noun prefix open syllable pattern.
Keywords: adjoined letter; compound; composite; consonant; element; etymological; evolutionary; homorganic; initial; intravowel; lemma; lemmatise; lexical; morphophonological; nasal; noun class prefix; segment; syllable; vowel