Precipitation constructions in isiXhosa

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 39, issue 1, 2019 , pages: 16–28
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2019.1572307
Author(s): Alexander AndrasonDepartment of African Languages, South Africa, Marianna VisserDepartment of African Languages, South Africa


Developed within the cross-linguistic framework of meteorological constructions formulated by Eriksen, Kittilä and Kolehmainen, the present article reviews and analyses manners of the encoding of precipitation events in isiXhosa (S 41). These include expressions of rain, hail, sleet, and snow. Overall, the evidence provided corroborates various synchronic and diachronic aspects of the framework posited by Eriksen et al. Furthermore, the study reveals several properties of precipitation constructions in isiXhosa that may have implications for a broader typological theory: greater complexity in the encoding of the event of rain in comparison to the other types of precipitation; lack of uniformity with respect to the morphosyntactic encoding of precipitation phenomena; onomatopoeic sources of precipitation verbs and nouns, and their relation to ideophones; presence of the expletive predicate type in non-Indo-European languages; and certain regularities concerning the argument structure of precipitation verbs, their (in)transitivity and valency changing processes.

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