This contribution is an attempt to describe the syntax of Setswana and word group structures in particular. Setswana is an African language spoken in the north-western regions of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) and in Botswana, a neighbouring state to the west of the RSA. It includes approximately seven closely related dialects and it is roughly estimated that it is spoken by about three million speakers. Setswana is an agglutinating language in which the system of noun classes, 18 in total, (characterised by prefixes for singular and plural) is a distinctive feature. These classes dominate the morphological and syntactic system of the language by means of agreement morphemes (also called concordial morphemes), which are derived from the prefixes of the different noun classes. They provide agreement between the functional classes of subjects, objects, predicates, pronouns and qualifiers of various types. It has no case system or gender system.
The following aspects have to be paid attention to since they cause problems in describing syntax and word group structures as every grammarian would know (cf. Krüger, CJH: 2006. Introduction to the Morphology of Setswana. Lincom Europa: Studies in African Linguistics):
(a) The controversial problem of word division and word identification as expressed by the conjunctive (official system for Nguni), the disjunctive (official system for Sotho) and the semi-conjunctive systems of word division used in the South-Eastern Zone of African Languages. The latter is found to be the most suitable system for describing the features of word groups.
(b) The controversial problem of developing a suitable word class system, which is necessary for a systematic and consistent description of syntactic structures. The different word class systems in use, are caused by the above mentioned orthographic systems.
(c) The development of an appropriate model or approach for consistent description of word groups and their formation in which the findings of (a) and (b) above, play a vital role (cf. ch.1.12).
Prof. Krüger is professor emeritus of African Languages at the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus) South Africa, and Extraordinary Professor at the Research unit for Language and Literature at the same university. After his retirement he was also appointed in a temporary capacity at the Mamelodi campus of the then Vista University in Tshwane for a period of four years.