The Bantu Preprefix, Morphology, Phonology or Syntax?

Devet Goodness


Bantu languages are characterized with the presence of an initial element that appears after a noun class prefix. This initial element (also known as initial vowel, pre-prefix or augment) has attracted the attention of most Bantuists. One issue of concern with regard to this initial element (hereafter called the preprefix) is related to its form, its distribution and its function. A question often asked is concerned with what triggers its occurrence in Bantu languages. This paper seeks to examine the preprefix in Bantu so as to come to grips with what triggers its occurrence in different Bantu languages. The findings indicate that the preprefix in Bantu may be associated with phonology, morphology and syntactic contexts. It has been revealed that in some cases, the preprefix in Bantu is triggered by its phonological context, morphology in some contexts and syntax in other contexts. It has been revealed that of all these three criteria (i.e morphology, phonology and syntax) syntax plays a greater role in the manifestation of the preprefix. However, in this paper it is concluded that the occurrence of the preprefix cannot be associated with a single aspect. 

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