On subject agreement in isiNdebele

  • Langa Khumalo


Agreement lies at the core of sentence structure. A verb typically must enter into a syntactic agreement relationship with a nominal. This article presents an analysis of the subject marker in the isiNdebele language. The focus of the article is on agreement between the verb and its arguments. Agreement between a head noun and its modifiers will be mentioned only in passing. It will be shown that, while there seem to be two types of agreement systems in Bantu, isiNdebele seems to be a subject agreement language. The article further shows that the subject marker is an agreement marker and not a pronominal clitic in isiNdebele. This discussion adds to a typological strand in the understanding of agreement in Bantu languages. The isiNdebele language described here belongs to the Nguni group of languages. It is mainly spoken in Zimbabwe and has very close affinity to isiZulu and other Nguni languages which comprise of isiXhosa and SiSwati. This study deals with Zimbabwean isiNdebele, which is much more closely related to isiZulu than to Southern isiNdebele (South African isiNdebele).

South African Journal of African Languages 2014, 34(2): 137–143

Author Biography

Langa Khumalo
Linguistics Program, School of Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117