Head-initial meets head-final nominal suffixes in eastern a southern Bantu from a historical perspective


  • Tom Güldemann


Bantu, locative suffix, nominals, diachrony


Bantu languages in eastern and southern Africa possess nominal suffixes which serve to express locative relations or derive nominal stems. As these grammemes are final to their noun hosts, they are markedly distinct from canonic prefix morphology in Bantu nouns. Moreover, nominal syntagms are head-initial and canonic grammaticalization in this domain can be expected to yield prefixes. The elements under discussion are suffixes, yet they developed in Bantu from inherited nominal lexemes. Thus, they are unusual from a morphotactic viewpoint and cannot easily be accounted for by exclusively language-internal developments. For this reason, it is plausible to investigate the hypothesis that the nominal suffixes emerged due to interference from languages having a different grammatical structure. For this purpose, a sample of non-Bantu languages from the relevant geographic area in Africa is established and analyzed in order to test whether there are languages or entire groups with head-final and suffixing patterns that could have influenced the process of suffix emergence in Bantu.