South African Journal of African Languages

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Zulu noun affixes: a generative account

Andrew van der Spuy


Although Zulu morphology has been extensively described, there have been very few generative studies of it. The aim of this article is to provide a generative account of the productive Zulu noun affixes (that is, affixes which attach to nouns, or which form nouns). The article will discuss the combinatory properties of the noun affixes: their selection properties, their features, and their status as heads or nonheads, in terms of the framework presented in Lieber (1992). It will also determine whether the affixes are derivational or inflectional. The affixes discussed are the initial vowel, the noun class prefixes, the locative prefixes, the noun-forming suffixes -i [‘human’] and -o [‘inanimate’], the meaning-changing affixes -kazi [‘feminine’], -kazi [‘augmentative’] and -ana [‘diminutive’], the locative suffix -ini, and the zero affixes which can be postulated to explain the changes in noun class that accompany changes in meaning.

S.Afr.J.Afr.Lang.,2009, 2

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