Linguistic Analysis of Word Order in Zulu Applied Linguistics Essay

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Linguistic Analysis of Word Order in Zulu Language

Linguistics in most cases deals with the scientific studies relating to languages. Most of the undergraduates are not conversant with linguistics because it is hardly taught in high schools. Most of those who discover about linguistics do it in their college levels. This paper, however, focuses on the linguistic analysis of word order in Zulu language. In particular, the paper will narrow down to discuss the issues of verbal morphosyntax in the Zulu language. Issues of the Zulu language will be critically analyzed, including verbal extensions, stem selection together with suffix selections and the problems experienced when trying to account for dependencies of different parts of verbal morphology. Also, there is a discussion on the construction of Zulu sentences, where the applicative argument which is locative, raises to the subject position, and leaves the agents with properties which are object-like. The prosody and the syntax of dislocation of the Zulu language are also discussed in length, to clearly explain the different Zulu order of words.


The history of the Zulu language

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Zulu language has a large number of noun classes, well established verb agreements, adjectives and other linguistic elements. The tense and aspects used by the Zulu people in communication are quite rich in content and are expressed in the form of simple tenses, aspectual affixes, auxiliary verbs and also compound tenses. Zulu language is the most spoken in South Africa, with over nine million people speaking the language. The language is been classified within the Bantu language and are linked to the southeast Nguni community. The Zulu language is related to the Xhosa and Ndebele languages, which are also part of the Nguni language. The Zulu language was greatly influenced by the early Christian missionaries. It is the European influence that led to the Zulu writing styles which adopted the Latin-based scripts in their writing. The language has also proved to be a detailed language, both when spoken by the natives and also when written.

Essay on Linguistic Analysis of Word Order in Zulu Applied Linguistics Assignment

The literature involves oral poetic compositions for instance the "izibongo" which is a song that was sung during praises. The written language of the 19th and 20th century was divided into two categories, one that involved traditions of the Zulu life and the other dealt with Christianity (Accredited, 2012, pp.3). Up to the mid-1800, the Zulu language still had the Christian scripture contents. The other fundamental text of the Zulu language appeared in the 19th century, which was a translation of the John Bunyan's: "Pilgrim's Progress." The modern literature of the Zulu people has remained to be cultural, and still preserves the oral traditions of the Zulu people. The language has been complicated since 1939, with an introduction of the 'Oral Narratives and the Ancient Traditions' which in the Zulu language would be translated as "Inziganekwane nezindaba ezindala." In 1958, there were the heroic poems for the Chiefs, "izibongo zamakhosi" (Accredited, 2012, pp.5).

The characteristics of the language are vast, ranging from borrowing of words from the English and Afrikaans languages. The Zulu language is spoken using the clicking sounds, which most linguistics believed were borrowed from their neighboring Khoisan communities. Also, most of the Zulu words end with vowels. Currently, most of the Zulus are located in the Zululand and KwaZulu provinces, located in South Africa (Accredited, 2012, pp.6).

Effects of Mirror Principle and Morphology

When discussing morphology and the mirror principle effects, there are always opposing opinions on where exactly the morphology is located in the structure of the language faculty. When using the lexicalist opinion, then morphology would be regarded as a linguistic component that is discrete and on par with both syntax and phonology (Damonte, 2007, p.338). Otherwise, morphology could also be an element in the syntax, which does not assume any morphological component at all (Chandler, 2005, p.4). However, for the purpose of This paper, the latter opinion will be used.

In most cases, morphemes are just heads that are manipulated and even merged in the same manner as phrases. The order of morphemes is, therefore, a composition of the syntactic structure (Internal) of words hence could be used in the diagnosis of any syntactic structure (Chandler, 2005, p.5). Baker's principle, "The Mirror Principle" explains that, those morphemes that appear closest to any verb roots are usually lower in structure, compared to those appearing further from the peripheries (Chandler, 2005, p.6). Typically, Baker's principle focuses acutely on grammatical function concepts, which explain that the function is hardly primitive and that this grammatical functions are changing phenomena which are accounted for using the hypothesis that, the affixation of X0 level on the original positions in the structures could lead to sensible changes in the case relations in a certain clause (Baker, 1988, p.216). Therefore, the principle's effects are reflective on the compositions of morphemes in most syntax structures. The ordering system of suffixes will, therefore, differ completely with the fashions used in case of suffixes. An illustration is provided below for better understanding.

In Zulu: w3 -- a2 -- cul1

2S -- PST- sing -- FV "you sang"

In the above case, the morphemes, including the subject and tense morphemes, are all prefixes. Due to the assumptions made that there is no right adjunction; meaning the adjunction of a lower head moving to the right side of the higher head, then the mirror principle which will have the effect of a tense morpheme being close to the verb root compared to the morpheme of subject agreement, is due to the fact that the verb root retains its lower position compared to the tense morpheme. Precisely, the verb root and the tense morpheme do not adjourn in any manner (Chandler, 2005, p.5).

Clause structures in the Zulu language

Due to the nature of this paper, some complications will be withheld. Therefore, the structures of clauses are divided into three distinctive sections. There is the lowest section referred to as the thematic domain. In this section, the verb is inclusive of the syntactic structure. Arguments are also introduced in the section, together with valence changing morphemes for instance the passive and causative. Thematic domain is commonly referred to as the V Domain. Just at the top of the V domain is the inflectional domain, also known as I Domain. In this section, the tense, subject agreement, negation and aspect are merged. At the far top of a Clause lays the complementizer domain, commonly referred to as the C. Domain. This is the most complicated section, with projections, illocutionary particles and complementizers being merged. However, for the Zulu language, it is arguable that clauses especially those with short verb forms, hardly provide efficient evidence to reach the above positions/sections (Chandler, 2005, p.7).

Noun Classes and morphology agreement in Zulu language

As in most of the Bantu languages, Zulu language has a large number of noun classes, which are in most cases assumed to be a complete system of grammatical gender. Many conventions do exist when labeling and referring to the different classes, and the numbering system is the most adopted. For this particular paper, has been integrated by a majority of scholars due to its ability to compare corresponding classes of the Bantu language which do not have some classes that are present in proto -- Bantu. For the case of Zulu, the classes are paired, in a way that the singular and plural forms are in two different classes. It is relevant to note that verbal and nominal modifiers, and complements follow nouns and verbs respectively, and are agreed with head nouns through alliterative prefix agreement that identify certain noun classes uniquely (Wildsmith-Cromarty, 2003, p.177). A tabulated illustration is provided below in figure 1.1.

Figure 1.1








m-fana boy



ba-fana boys


u-baba father


o-baba fathers



m-fula river


mi-fula rivers





ma-gama names


si-hlalo seat


zi-hlalo seats


nkomo cow


zi-nkomo cows




phondo horn

10 (bis)

zi-mpondo horns



bu-mnyama darkness



ku-cula to sing




For instance, is the nouns in class 7 are considered (for example; isikole, which means school, isandla, meaning hand and isihlalo, meaning seat) are all in singular form. Class 8 illustrates the words in plural form (such that the result is; izikole, for schools, izandla, meaning hands and izihlalo, meaning seats). Well selected examples are illustrated in the table above.

It is notably clear that the nouns in the table are actually preceded by two prefixes and not a single one. The first of the prefixes is known as the "augment" or could also be referred to as "preprefix" which could be assumed to be an article. The second prefix is a "class prefix." Mostly, nouns that exhibit an augment will be called augmented. When the nouns lack the augmenting form, then they are referred to as unaugmented or bare. These bare nouns function as the negative ( -- ve) polarity items,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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