Class 1 deverbal and nondeverbal nouns in Shona: A comparative analysis

Calisto Mudzingwa, Maxwell Kadenge


The main aim of this article is to present a comparative analysis of some synchronic morphological properties of Shona class 1 non-deverbal and deverbal nouns. On the surface, these nouns, like most other Bantu nouns, look superficially similar; they comprise a noun class prefix and a noun stem. However, this belies a huge diversity amongst these nouns. We demonstrate that class 1 non-deverbal and deverbal nouns display the following differences: first, the stems of non-deverbal nouns are monomorphemic whereas those of deverbal nouns are minimally bimorphemic and are derived from verb roots. Secondly, the boundaries between the class prefix and the nominal stem behave differently. To this end, we use vowel hiatus resolution as a diagnostic tool to demonstrate the differences. Third, in forming diminutives of non-deverbal nouns, there is substitution of prefixes whereas for the deverbal nouns there is stacking of prefixes. We demonstrate that deverbal and non-deverbal nouns behave differently with respect to their phonology and derivational properties. We conclude that nouns in class 1 are not uniform and a theory of noun classes needs to be rich enough to account for the diversity. This research contributes towards the description and analysis of Shona nominal morphology in particular, and Bantu Linguistics in general.


deverbal, nondeverbal, noun, substitution, staking, morphology

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ISSN 2224-3380 (online); 1726-541X (print)

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