A semantic characterisation of verbal agreement and word order in several Bantu languages

No Thumbnail Available
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Dar es Salaam
This thesis is an attempt to characterise certain grammatical aspects of several Bantu languages in terms of their semantic function in the communication process. The two phenomena under study are verbal agreement and word order. This presentation is based on comparative data. It is an investigation into the phenomena of verbal agreement and word order in five Bantu languages spoken in East Africa. Four, Haya, RuriLangi and Nyakyusa, are tribal languages spoken in Tanzania. The fifth, Swahili, is spoken in Kenya and Tanzania and, to a lesser extent, in Uganda, it is the principle language used for inter tribal communication in East Africa. The research was carried out at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with students who are native speakers of the languages under study. Swahili was used for all discussions. Most of the Swahili data was collected on a research trip to Mombasa, Kenya. After a general introduction to the study the thesis presents the theoretical background of the analyses to be presented, as well as a discussion of the methods used for data collection. The particular languages which were investigated are then dealt with. The basic grammatical systems are described and examples of the constructions to be analyzed are provided verbal agreements are discussed. Data is organized according to different construction types. Hypotheses are proposed to account for the ways in which speakers use the various linguistic elements examined for conveying messages. An examination of how linguistic elements are ordered is presented; specifically the concern is with the ways in which nominal items can be sequenced in relation to the verb. Again hypotheses are proposed to explain how the sequencing of linguistic elements is used by speakers for communication. The conclusion drawn are hypotheses. They are proposed as candidate for heuristic devices to be used in the analysis of linguistic structures in the languages examined and, possibly, for other structurally related systems e.g. other Bantu languages. However, additional data, both from the languages examined as well as from other Bantu languages, will be necessary before the applicability of the hypotheses for linguistic analysis can be adequately evaluated.
Available jn print form
Bantu languages, Grammar, comporative and general, Tanzania
Hawkinson, A.K (1976) A semantic characterisation of verbal agreement and word order in several Bantu languages, Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at ( )