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Historical evolution of the -<i>ile</i> suffix and language genetic relationship in the Nyasa-Tanganyika Corridor

Nichodamus Robinson


This article examines the extent to which the changing morphological and phonological properties of the -ile suffix illuminates change in the genetic language relationships among four languages in the Nyasa-Tanganyika corridor. Scholarly works indicate that based on lexical similarity, Nyiha, Malila, Nyakyusa and Ndali are so closely related genetically that one may regard these pairs of languages as dialects and not distinct languages. Beyond lexical similarity, this article contributes to the existing knowledge on genetic classification by comparing changes in the -ile suffix in Nyiha, Malila, Nyakyusa and Ndali. Data collection techniques involved a review of written texts, narrative stories and interviews. The analysis in this article considered two major aspects, namely the Nyiha-Malila and Nyakyusa-Ndali genetic relationships. The findings indicate that although Nyiha and Malila demonstrate striking lexical similarity, we have noted significant differences between the two languages on the change involving the -ile suffix. Also, Nyakyusa and Ndali demonstrate differences caused by the change involving the -ile suffix. Therefore, this article concludes that the morphological and phonological evolution of the -ile suffix illuminates change in the genetic relationship of Nyakyusa, Ndali, Nyiha and Malila. The languages develop distinctive features which made them depart from their Proto-Bantu, and among themselves.

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eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117