Assignment of Noun Classes to Acronyms in Kiswahili: A Study of Acronym-nouns in Kiswahili Newspapers

Nicholous Asheli


Kiswahili, like other Bantu languages, has a noun class system as each noun in the language belongs to a particular class. This paper attempts to show how nouns in the form of acronyms are treated in Kiswahili. The data are drawn from Kiswahili newspaper headlines. To determine the noun class to which a particular acronym is assigned, we pay attention to agreement marking affixes on verbs, which reflect the nouns to which they refer. We also argue that some acronym nouns are treated differently from other non-acronym nouns. Indeed, the paper observes that such nouns are regarded as a different category of nouns. Moreover, the data show that one acronym noun may be assigned to more than one noun class. However, one noun class is normally dominantly associated with a certain acronym noun. Interestingly, some acronyms are assigned to noun classes differently from the head noun in acronyms when they are spoken/written in full. It is concluded that this special treatment of acronym nouns is an indication that semantic criteria are crucial in deciding how agreement should be. It is also a sign of an on-going language change that affects the number of noun classes in the language.


Keyword: Kiswahili, Bantu languages, noun class system, acronym nouns

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

 [ISSN 0856-9965 (Print)]