Research Article

A morphological and lexical analysis of Mandeni urban vernacular

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 41, issue 1, 2021 , pages: 105–112
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2021.1902149
Author(s): Zempilo Silindokuhle Gumede, South Africa, Linda van Huyssteen, South Africa, Thabo Ditsele, South Africa


This study investigated morphological and lexical features of an urban vernacular spoken in Mandeni, KwaZulu- Natal. The speech community in Mandeni refers to this urban vernacular as ‘Mandeni tsotsitaal’; however, it is referred to as ‘Mandeni urban vernacular’ (MUV) in this study because it had not been researched before, thus there was no evidence that it was a ‘tsotsitaal variety’. This study compared MUV’s morphological features with those of standard isiZulu because the latter is the former’s base or matrix language. It adopted a qualitative research approach using recordings (i.e. conversations with seven participants) and text analysis (i.e. a corpus developed from transcriptions of the recordings) to gather data. The study revealed that while MUV’s morphology aligned with that of standard isiZulu, there were minor deviations, which included unusual concordial agreement in the form of noun class shift (from class 1a to class 5), indefiniteness (marked by the class 10 concord), reversed derivational patterns (e.g. from nouns to verbs) and the use of foreign-bound morphemes. It also revealed that there were tsotsitaal lexical items and new unique lexical items that were used by the participants.

Get new issue alerts for South African Journal of African Languages