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Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

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On the morphology of Degema modifier, demonstrative and interrogative nominals

Ethelbert Emmanuel Kari

Abstract


This article discusses the morphology of Degema modifier, demonstrative and interrogative nominals, noting that like most nouns in the language, these nominals consist of a stem and a vocalic element. The vocalic elements of these nominals have been analysed as prefixes based on the fact that (a) they are used to derive such nominals from verbs and non-verbs, and (b) they occur before verbal and non-verbal hosts and mark number and non-human/human attributes of nouns. The article notes that unlike noun class prefixes, which are characterised by a high degree of selection of their stems and arbitrary lexical gaps, modifier, demonstrative and interrogative nominals are characterised by a low degree of selection of their hosts and an absence of arbitrary lexical gaps. Consequently, the article argues that, contrary to previous analysis, these vocalic elements are not genuine morphological prefixes but syntactic clitics. Finally, the article highlights the fact that the behaviour of the vocalic elements of Degema modifier, demonstrative and interrogative nominals represents an interestingly complex morphosyntactic case of inflection and derivation where these vocalic elements perform both inflectional and derivational functions simultaneously.



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