The open parts of speech of Qorwaá Toward a Description of the Gorwaá Language

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University of Dar es Salaam
Gorwaá remains a virtually undocumented language, with no linguistic materials available to the speech community or the academic community at large. The first steps in linguistic documentation are traditionally the compilation of a dictionary and the creation of a grammar. However, without clear descriptions of the individual parts of speech of Gorwaá, both of these efforts are considerably hampered in terms of the clarity they can provide to users. Conversely, approaching a documentation project with a precise and principled list of Gorwaá specific parts of speech can lend subsequent dictionaries and grammars considerable analytical insight. Given length restrictions, this study examines the open parts of speech of Gorwaá, leaving the closed parts of speech to later studies. Instances of the open parts of speech were taken from interviews, stories, and natural speech collected in Tanzania’s Babati district, Manyara region, over a period of five months, and were analyzed according to their morphological, syntactic, and (to a lesser extent) semantic behaviour. The study’s findings reveal four open parts of speech in Gorwaá, namely the noun, adjective, verb, and adverb. Nouns inflect for case, and also bear inherent gender. Gender operates according to a cross-linguistically rare mechanism of deriving plural forms via affixes which possess their own inherent genders. As such, the noun exists as a lexical head N, and the pluralizing suffix existing as a functional head n. Adjectives inflect for gender, and may be used both predicatively and attributively. Syntactically, adjectives appear as lexical heads Adj, and adjective phrases appear as NP complements or complements of adjectival copulas. Verbs are lexical categories inflecting for tense, aspect, mood, and polarity, as well as inflecting for person and number for pronominal subjects, or inflecting for gender for nominal subjects. Verbs are also able to function predicatively, and always occur last in relation to both subjects and objects. Agreement phenomena on certain selectors points to verbs possessing their own inherent gender (in this study referred to as ‘species’). Adverbs are invariable, modifiers of non-noun elements, and optional in terms of producing grammatical utterances. Both circumstantial adverbs and adverbs of degree have been identified thus far. VP adverbs modify only their predicate and exist as adjuncts - Adv. Clausal adjectives modify the entire clause and must be linked to the sentence as a whole as AdvP. Further, some words which act semantically as adverbs are syntactically nouns. In conclusion, though these parts of speech exhibit properties and distribution largely consistent with their counterparts in the majority of other languages, there are some salient differences which result in morphosyntactic representations specific to Gorwaá (and perhaps to other Cushitic languages, such as Somali and Iraqw). A major area for further study exists in the closed categories of Gorwaá, especially the pronouns and selectors, which seem to exist as clitics, and are obligatory elements of most sentence types.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF PJ2551.H37)
Cushitic Language, Southern, Gorwaa Language, Irgqu language, Parts of speech, Language, Tanzania
Harvey, A,D.T (2013) The open parts of speech of Qorwaá Toward a Description of the Gorwaá Language.Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam.