The sequence and productivity of Setswana verbal suffixes

  • Rigardt Pretorius School of Languages, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University
Keywords: Setswana morphology, verbal suffixes, tokenisation, sequence, productivity


Setswana is an agglutinative language with a rich verbal morphology, allowing for an elaborate system of verbal inflection. Until now, research on Setswana verbal morphology has largely been based on qualitative methods. This paper discusses the frequency of use and the sequencing of Setswana verbal suffixes, based on statistics extracted from the 67,284 orthographic-unit, annotated NCHLT Setswana corpus which includes 9,146 verbs. On this quantitative basis, the relationship between productivity/frequency and the position/slot of Setswana verbal suffixes is investigated. In addition, the relationship between the frequency and position of these same Setswana verbal suffixes and their inflectional or derivational nature is also considered. The data is subsequently used to evaluate and comment on existing descriptive grammars of Setswana.