Research articles

Controversies around the so-called alliterative concord in African languages: A Critical Language Awareness on communicative competence with specific reference to Tshivenda1

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 33, issue 2, 2013, pages: 189–201
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2013.871461
Author(s): Thomas M SenganiDepartment of African Languages, South Africa


One aspect in syntactic studies that has fascinated European linguistic pioneers of African languages has been the concord which they have dubbed ‘the alliterative concord’. In their grammatical treatment of this phenomenon they purposefully created sentences to underscore their discovery of what they termed ‘euphonic’ and ‘melodic’ letters as ‘letters [that] correspond in form and use, to reveal prefixes from which they are derived’ (Boyce, 1844:ix). Eventually they concluded that it is ‘the key to the etymological structure of the language’ (Doke & Cole, 1969:34) and also to the understanding thereof. The term ‘alliterative concord’ has since been used with caution, because it is a misnomer and does not fully capture the nature of concordial agreement.

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