Mgbakoigba: Journal of African Studies

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Lexical borrowing in Africa with special attention to outcomes of languages in contacts in Tanzania

Amani Lusekelo


This article provides the impact of contact of Bantu and non-Bantu languages of Tanzania. Much attention is paid to the dispersal of Swahili words into Hadzabe, Iraqw and Maasai; and exemplary cases of Bantu-to-Bantu contacts have been included. Findings indicate that a layer of Swahili and English words exist in many languages of South-Western Tanzania such as Nyakyusa, Nyamwanga, Ndali, among others. Along the coast of Tanzania, influence of Swahili lexis is massive in such languages as Maraba. The Bantu to non-bantu contacts yielded numerous loans across Greebergian language phylums in Tanzania as evidenced in, for example, Swahili loans in Burunge and Hadzabe. Findings demonstrate distinct mechanisms of incorporation of loans. In Cushitic and Nilotic languages such as Hadzabe, Iraqw and Maasai, gender marking is the primary mechanism of adaptation of Bantu loans whilst Bantu languages assign noun classifications to the loanwords from English and non-Bantu languages.

Keywords: Contact linguistics, Lexical borrowing, Bantu languages, Non-Bantu languages, Tanzania

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