Chapter published in:Exploring Intensification: Synchronic, diachronic and cross-linguistic perspectives
Edited by Maria Napoli and Miriam Ravetto
[Studies in Language Companion Series 189] 2017
► pp. 79–97
Noun classification in Kiswahili
Linguistic strategies to intensify or to reduce
The evaluation strategies in Kiswahili display an ambiguous status between inflection (as it was in Proto-Bantu, where classes 12–13, 19 expressed diminution, and classes 20–23 intensification) and derivation. In Modern Kiswahili these classes are lost, and the evaluative category arises by means of a highly productive derivational rule shifting a noun stem to another class: to class 5 for augmentatives, to class 7 for diminutives, because of the semantics of these classes.The morpheme (−)ji-, originally the prefix marker of class 5, is actually admitted also within a word after another class prefix, sanctioning the birth of noun derivational morphology in Kiswahili: in most cases it has become a morpheme of intensification, but sometimes it can mark a change in size, either augmentative or diminutive.
Keywords: evaluation, intensification, diminution, Kiswahili, noun classes
Published online: 30 September 2017
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