The Semantic-pragmatic Theory of Definiteness: A Grammaticalisation Account of Indefiniteness Markers in the Determiner Phrase in Kinyakyusa

Amani Lusekelo


This work contributes to the discussion on the realisation of indefinite determiner phrases, whose physical manifestation is rare, except in a few languages of the world. However, language-specific mechanisms to indicate indefiniteness are available in each language. The semanticpragmatic theory of definiteness helps to discuss with precision the concept of indefiniteness in the nominal domain in Kinyakyusa. Evidence shows that the lexical element -mo ‘certain/some’, which was grammaticalised from the numeral -mo ‘one’, has developed to the indication of specific indefinites in the language. Evidence also shows that the reduplication of the lexical element -osa ‘any’ signals the nonspecific indefinite nouns. The pre-prefix is also used to mark definiteness in Kinyakyusa. Briefly, occurrence of the pre-prefix together with prenominal demonstratives provides indefinite interpretation of the DP. This is obvious for circumstances of interrogative sentence, which basically provides non-specific indefinite interpretation. But in the same context, when the pre-prefix is used on the lexical nouns, we obtain definite interpretation.

Key words: Indefiniteness, determiners, modifiers, Bantu, Kinyakyusa

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 [ISSN 0856-9965 (Print)]