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South African Journal of African Languages

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Noun morphophonemics and noun class restructuring: The case of Meru gender 11/10

Fridah Erastus Kanana

Abstract


The article seeks to address the plural forms of class 11/10 nouns in Meru dialects. These are Bantu dialects spoken in the eastern province of Kenya. The dialects build the plural forms in this class in various ways. Sometimes the entire word is treated as a root and in other cases the word is considered to have two parts: a prefix and a stem. Forms that are considered to have a prefix and a stem can be further restructured. In some cases the singular forms have an underlying stem initial palatal consonant which is deleted in the surface phonetic form but surfaces in the plural, and in other cases the words are treated as having a stem initial vowel. It is interesting to note that this noun class restructuring can occur in one and the same dialect whereby a single lexical form has its plural realized in two or three different ways. The article will, therefore, not only seek to discuss different ways of forming the plural in this gender but also outline clearly the motivations behind such changes.

South African Journal of African Languages 2014, 34(1): 107–117



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