Original Articles

In Defence of the Zulu Adjective

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 21, issue 2, 2001 , pages: 148–162
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2001.10586523
Author(s): Andrew van der SpuyDepartment of English Language and Linguistics,


It has been claimed that the traditional Zulu ‘adjectives’ and ‘relative stems’ would be more appropriately called ‘qualificative noun[s]’ (Posthumus, 2000). Yet the synchronic syntactic behaviour of ‘adjectives’ is identical to that bf ‘relative stems’, but different from that of nouns, verbs, and prepositions. Therefore a distinctive term should be used for these two morphological word-types; an appropriate term is ‘adjective’. The argument that the relative-clause form of adjectives is derived from the predicative construction, and not vice versa, is further evidence in favour of the ‘adjective’ analysis, though this article suggests an alternative to Khumalo's derivation of the relative-clause form by ‘SP Deletion’.

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