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South African Journal of African Languages

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Extricating the description of the grammar of isiXhosa from a Eurocentric approach

J.C. Oosthuysen

Abstract


A Eurocentric approach was the only possible point of departure for those originally attempting to set out the grammatical structure of isiXhosa. Not being mother-tongue speakers, their commendable efforts were inevitably done from the perspective of the grammar of European languages such as Latin and English. Subsequent contemplation on the structure of isiXhosa has predominantly also been done by non-mother tongue speakers. Despite the significant progress that has been made the final word has not yet been spoken, fully extricating isiXhosa from the constraints of a Eurocentric approach and describing it in its own right, viewed from its own perspective and in terms of its own genius. To achieve this, a phenomenological approach has to be followed, progressing from language to grammar and not from preconceived ideas regarding grammar to language. In this article an overview of the history of the description of the grammar of isiXhosa is given with an indication of some of the results a phenomenological approach renders. Greater insight is gained in various areas, such as the verbal category of tense, and the use of copulatives, for example those with the variable prefix qualificative nouns, traditionally referred to as adjectives.




http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02572117.2015.1056467
AJOL African Journals Online