The locative in Vunjo

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study is an attempt at characterising the LOCATIVE category in Kivunjo language. The work is in two parts. Part one describes the semantic features associated with the concept of place and examines how these senses are surfaced in the expressions of place in Kivunjo. Place can be conceived of in many different ways depending on how we treat place. The static man and dynamic man view place differently. Many more diversified views would result from the conception of place depending on whether place is static or dynamic. Generally however, any conception of place would reflect the following important features. Place must be considered in terms of the up-down, left-right, back-front near-far, inside-outside opposition. Also important are the static-dynamic relations of place. If the dynamic aspects are taken count of, then place will be considered as a goal, a source or a path of an object. This study considers how Kivunjo reflects some of these semantic distinctions in the locative expressions. The morphological and syntactic modulations of the locative in Kivunjo have a strong bearing towards the Proto-Bantu locative cases. The description reveals that like most other Bantu languages, Kivunjo derives locatives from the Proto-Bantu locative classes 16 and 17. The HA and KU locative markers find reflexes in Kivunjo and their semantic coverage has been retained. MU is not reflexed in Kivunjo to cover the inside locational relations. Locative suffix-NYI which would have logically covered the inside locational relations in the absence of the MU class in Kivunjo assumes much greater semantic coverage than the Proto-Bantu INYI. Furthermore several other forms that bear no morphological resemblances to the Proto Bantu forms are cited in the study. Kivunjo therefore utilizes the HA and KU classes concords, the NYI suffix, bare substantives and other complex constructions in the locative expression. Part two describes the syntactic characteristics of the locative in Kivunjo. It focuses on the two grammatical categories of subject of an object of in sentences where the locatives are involved. It therefore goes about showing that the Locatives can function as subject and object of sentences in Kivunjo. Traditional studies about sentence structure assume that every sentence structure must have a nominal subject. Locatives are not nominals according to these studies. Locatives answer the question “where”. Place constructions would therefore normally function as adverbials of place in sentence structure. Although the same studies would accept “Moshi, the market and similar place names as nominals, they still consider them nominals of the lower order; i.e., they do not refer to entities of the first order (Lyons:1977). In surface sentence structure these place names can function as subjects of sentences, as in: (1a) Moshi is cold. Loc. + COPULA + a (2a). The market has a lot of people. Loc v object According to the theory of immediate constituents, these sentences have locative subjects. They are the left most occurring elements in the sentence structures, and they are also the topics or the Themes of the sentences, and they are also the agreement (singular subject, singular verb) in the sentences in which they occur. But transformational grammarians claim that these sentences can be paraphrased in the following way: 1b. There is coldness in Moshi. 2b. There are a lot of people at the market. According to transformationalists, the strings in 1a. and 2a. are not kernel sentences because of the fact that they could be paraphrased as 1b and 2b. The use of There in both cases to stand for the absent subjects is a further proof that the locatives in 1a and 2a are not subjects of the sentences. The author goes about showing that the grammatical category of subject hood can be occupied by the locative in Kivunjo. Since in Kivunjo, as in any other Bantu languages, all nominals 1 functioning as subjects control all grammatical agreement in the sentences they occur, the feature belonging to the locative class is copied onto any piece it governs, as the subject of the sentence. The object slot in sentence structure is occupied by nominal. Leech (1975) writes on objects saying: a) Like the subject, the object of a clause is a noun phrase; or a nominal clause b) The object usually refers to the person or thing etc., affected by the action of the verb. c) The object normally follows the verb phrase. (page 256). Since the exercise on showing that the locatives can function as subjects of sentences has yield positive results, providing that the locative can function as the object of the sentence is not difficult. The study fulfills the three conditions proposed by Leech above. Section 2:2 focuses on the Locative under major syntactic rules. The rules selected are those that would involve the grammatical categories of subject and object, of sentences. These rules are Passivisation, Topicalization, Relativization, Pronominalization and Tough Movement. According to Keenan (1976) in his Accessibility Hierarchy, the subject and the object of a sentence can easily be relativized, passivized, pronominalized, topicalized and tough moved. The claim is proved positively in this study. This study will be useful in two ways. First it is one of the earliest attempts to describe Kivunjo syntax, a field which is relatively untouched. The findings will provoke the interest of other scholars who might be interested in the field and especially those who might have better ideas on the Kivunjo language. Secondly, the findings might be a contribution to the field of syntactical analyses of languages in an attempt to pinpoint those features in the syntax of world languages that are universal. Methodological note: The work is mainly based on the author’s intuition about her own language backed by wide library research. Views have been drawn from important authors on Bantu languages and other linguists of the world. A few but limited contacts were made with other speakers of Kivunjo especially on the first part of the study. A note on Tone in Kivunjo. In Kivunjo, Tone is phonemic. There are two tones, falling tone and rising tone. In this study, tone will not be marked.
Kivunjo (African language), Bantu languages
Mcha, Y. (1970) The locative in Vunjo, Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at