Noun Formation in Mashami

Josephat Rugemalira


This paper examines the morphology of the noun in Mashami, a Tanzanian
Bantu language (E62) spoken on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, and
describes the various ways in which a noun may be formed. Mashami
illustrates the continuing modification of the grammatical and semantic
structure of the Bantu noun class system, showing that the system has become
quite arbitrary and is comparable to grammatical gender systems in many
languages of the world. At the same time, an underlying semantic motive is
clearly operative and gets exploited in creative ways to derive new forms for
the lexicon. And this creativity, based on shifting and expanding worldviews,
wreaks havoc to the traditional distinction between inflection and derivation.

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