Nominal marking in Northern Tshwa (Kalahari Khoe)
Languages of the Khoe family have a complex pronominal system that distinguishes three categories each for person, gender, and number. However, while languages of the Khoekhoe branch and the western subgroup of Kalahari Khoe obligatorily or optionally mark nouns and nominal classifiers for gender and number, the nominal marking system in eastern Kalahari Khoe appears to be undergoing serious reduction. This article discusses data on personal pronouns and nominal gender-number marking in four little-known Northern Tshwa varieties, including data from Tjwao, a severely endangered language spoken by fewer than ten individuals in western Zimbabwe. We analyse personal pronoun use, case distinctions and nominal marking, focussing on characterising features and commonalities shared across the cluster. Our findings show a high degree of uniformity within Northern Tshwa, and at the same time suggest a more complex nominal marking system than was previously assumed for varieties of the Eastern Kalahari Khoe subgroup.
Keywords: Khoe-Kwadi, Eastern Kalahari Khoe, Tshwa, nominal marking, personal pronouns