LINGUIST List 32.276

Thu Jan 21 2021

FYI: The Bantu Noun Phrase: Issues and Perspectives

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 19-Jan-2021
From: Blasius Achiri-Taboh <>
Subject: The Bantu Noun Phrase: Issues and Perspectives
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From the beginning of the 20th century, Bantu linguistics was mainly dominated by the VP and its derivation, issues of TAM, and tone. In spite of it being tremendous exciting, the Bantu NP has largely remained untouched. Although much attention in the nominal domain has gone to categorizing nouns, this is almost the only concentrated patch in the noun related field. As Rugemalira (2007) points out, ‘studies of the noun in Bantu languages have traditionally concentrated on the morphology of the noun [and this has not been unexpected, given the very nature of the Bantu noun] with its elaborate class system [with agreement marking] and the underlying semantic strands.’ Generally, although extremely interesting, especially in its complex modification, the structure of the Bantu noun phrase has largely been neglected.
Examining the NP in some Bantu languages, Rugemalira highlights issues of how and to what numerical extent nouns take modifiers, how modifiers are classified, how they relate, but little has been done to fully understand these worries. For example, Bantu nouns are largely post-modified, with interesting ramification especially with lexical post-possessors. Some functional modifiers in some of the languages surface as pre-modifiers or freely alternate as pre- or post-modifiers with important implications. With this structural free variation, my native Ngamambo (in the Grassfields) exhibits a noun-specific restriction to possessive post-modification, that is, although pronominal possessors can generally either precede or follow the noun, there are a few nouns that only allow them to follow. Demonstratives which are typically post-modifiers can surface as pre-modifiers under focus. Even more crucial is the worry on the aging claim (See Szabolczi, 1994 and Mojapelo, 2007) that some languages do not overtly exhibit definiteness. Yet, within the last 20 year, interest in addressing such issues has rested upon a few studies like those of Zeller, Van de Velde, Rugemalira, Lusekelo, O’Connor & Patin, Tamanji & Achiri-Taboh.
Looking at noun morphology, the Bantu noun has typically been classified on the basis of nominal prefixes following the Proto-Bantu noun class systems of the early and post-mid twentieth Century. The problem here is that classifying nouns on prefixhood rather than agreement (cf. Corbett, 1994) serves no real syntactic purpose, even if Bantu nominal prefixes can be very systematic (Taralson, 2010).

Aim of Book:

The aim of the book is to put together a collection of interesting original descriptive/theoretical studies that address burning issues of the Bantu NP, to gain more insight understanding into the true nature of modification, association, apposition, genitivization, relativization, focusing, agreement and noun formation/classification.
Potential authors, scholars particularly interested in Bantu morpho-syntax, are invited to contribute chapters that examine any aspect of the Bantu NP, from the nature of individual word items (potentially on agreement and noun classes) through larger nominal constituents to comparative studies potentially between languages. Each chapter of between 4000 to 10000 words or so will undergo both an editorial review and at least one blind peer review by any selected authors in the project.


Submit a detailed abstract of 400-1000 words in a word file to by 20th May, 2021 or earlier, with at least 3 references to support your proposal, showing how the chapter intends to contribute to the exposition of the subject matter. An approval reply will follow a couple of days to a week after, and authors can immediately start working on the full text.

Important Dates:

Abstract submission:20-5-2021
Abstract acceptance notification:30-5-2021
Chapter submission:30-6-2021
Start of peer review:1-7-2021
Chapter status notification:30-8-2021
Editorial/author revision deadline:15-10-2021
Book submission:10-12-2021

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
Language Family(ies): Niger-Congo

Page Updated: 21-Jan-2021