The V and CV augment and exhaustivity in Kinyakyusa




augment, definiteness, focus, exhaustivity, Bantu


In addition to the stem and noun class prefix, the structure of nouns in Bantu languages may contain an augment. This augment typically is a vowel, but some languages show a CV augment. Interestingly, the Bantu language Kinyakyusa shows nouns with a V as well as with a CV prefix, both of which have been analysed as augments (De Blois 1970). In this short paper we clarify the formal and functional properties of the ‘CV augment’ in Kinyakyusa. First we show that it does not behave like the V augment, but is a separate marker that is attached to the noun phrase. Second, we narrow down the previous analyses of the CV marker that describe it as ‘emphatic’ (De Blois 1970, Persohn 2020): On the basis of a range of focus tests, we argue that the CV marker functions as a marker of exhaustivity. This is remarkable, as exhaustive focus is in Bantu languages typically associated with marking in the clause and not on the noun itself.


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Author Biographies

Jenneke van der Wal, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics

Jenneke van der Wal is a Senior Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. After obtaining her PhD degree at the same institute in 2009, she worked on grammaticalisation at the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Belgium), was part of the ERC project ‘Rethinking Comparative Syntax‘ at the University of Cambridge, and taught at Harvard University. Her research combines finding new data from Bantu languages with developing theories on the interface between syntax and information structure.

Amani Lusekelo, University of Dar es Salaam College of Education

Amani Lusekelo holds a Ph.D. (African Languages and Literature) from the University of Botswana where he wrote a thesis on object marking and verbal extensions in Nyakyusa. Currently, he is a professor at the Department of Languages and Literature at Dar es Salaam University College of Education (University of Dar es Salaam) in Tanzania. Bantu syntax is one of his research interests, particularly on the syntax of object marking and the structure of the noun phrase. He also conducts research on contact linguistics in Tanzania, publishing on lexicon, sociolinguistic aspects, and education.