Lexical Semantics and Selection of TAM in Bantu Languages: A Case of Semantic Classification of Kiswahili Verbs

Document Type: Research Paper

Author

Dar es Salaam University, Tanzania

Abstract

The existing literature on Bantu verbal semantics demonstrated that inherent semantic content of verbs pairs directly with the selection of tense, aspect and modality formatives in Bantu languages like Chasu, Lucazi, Lusamia, and Shiyeyi. Thus, the gist of this paper is the articulation of semantic classification of verbs in Kiswahili based on the selection of TAM types. This is because the semantics and morphology of Kiswahili verbs have been extensively and intensively researched but the semantic classification of verbs has not been fully provided. Findings for the current research point towards the fact that, based on the realizations of three important sections of the verbal semantics, namely, onset, nucleus, and coda, Kiswahili verbs are divided into three major categories: activity (durative), achievement (inchoative), and stative verbs. A clear TAM-selection is provided for in achievement verbs whose semantic contents prohibit co-occurrence with progressive aspect, habituality, and futurity. This behaviour is attested in other Bantu languages though Kiswahili has no -ile formative. 

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