Research Article

The attributive adjective in Zimbabwean isiNdebele

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 41, issue 2, 2021 , pages: 139–148
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2021.1948213
Author(s): Progress Dube, South Africa

Abstract

This article discusses attributive adjectives in Zimbabwean isiNdebele. In traditional grammar, the attributive adjectives are treated as words whose function is to qualify a noun in a noun phrase. According to this analysis, an attributive adjective has the structure: adjective concord (a relative marker a- + a noun class prefix) and an adjective stem. However, there are instances where the attributive function is expressed by a construction that is larger than a word. In these constructions, the relative marker and the noun class prefix may be separated by a subject marker, negation marker, aspect markers, tense markers, inchoactive/auxiliary verbs, or a subject of the relative clause. I present an alternative analysis, according to which the attributive adjectival function is expressed by a relative clause rather than by an adjectival word category. I maintain that adjectival roots in isiNdebele are derived from class neutral roots by merging with an adjectiviser head (adj), and that the function of an adjective is to complement auxiliary verbs and inchoactive verbs in a predicate. I suggest that the relative operator is base generated as a complement of an adjective in an adjective phrase and then moves to spec C via spec in spec Pr and spec T respectively. The C-head a- then affixes to the subject of the relative clause in the formation of strategy 2 relatives and it affixes to T in the formation of strategy 1 relatives.

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