The structure and semantics of the Luganda near-synonym evidential particles nti and mbu


  • Deo Kawalya Makerere University


near-synonym, evidentiality, particles, Luganda


In this article, I describe the structure and semantics of the Luganda particles nti and mbu that have previously been considered as having the same or similar meanings. By analysing Luganda corpus data, I show that although there are some structural similarities between nti and mbu, the two particles have distinct meanings or functions. Whereas nti introduces both reported speech, citations and plain complements, mbu is used to express reported/hearsay evidence (plus attitude), attitude only, and disapproval. It is further established that the meanings of the two particles is usually confused probably because of the fact that nti is used in reported speech constructions, while mbu introduces reported evidence. This therefore creates a risk of considering nti as the marker of the evidence. However, it has been shown that in such cases, evidential information is expressed by the reported speech which, itself, is built on the verb (mostly of ‘say’), since nti can actually be deleted without affecting the reported speech reading (and the evidential information, if available).


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