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A comparative analysis of Runyankore-Rukiga and Luganda pronominal agreement

Revision as of 08:55, 19 April 2011 by Allen Asiimwe (Talk | contribs)

by Medadi Erisa Ssentanda and Allen Asiimwe

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A Comparative study of Runyankore-Rukiga and Luganda noun class system


Runyankore-Rukiga (RR) and Luganda: an overview

Runyankore-Rukiga (ISO 639-3 nyn for Runyankore and ISO 639-3 cgg for Rukiga) is a central Bantu language spoken in the South-Western part of Uganda in the Kigezi (Rukiga) and the Ankore (Runyankore) regions by four million speakers (Uganda Population and Housing Census: 2002). Earlier scholars (e.g. Ladefoged et al 1971) named these languages according to ethnic groups; but the high lexical similarity that these languages share motivated a merger into one language called Runyankore-Rukiga.

Luganda (ISO 639-3: lug) is a Bantu language which belongs to the subgroup of the Benue-Congo of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken in central, and some other parts of Uganda by four million native speakers and four million non-native speakers (Uganda Population and Housing Census: 2002). In the Ugandan context, Luganda is grouped with Lusoga, Lunyole and Lumasaba, as the Eastern inter-lacustrine Bantu languages of Uganda and Runyankore-Rukiga together with Runyoro-Rutooro constitute the Western inter-lacustrine Bantu languages.


Like other Bantu languages characterized by agglutination, RR and Luganda have an a noun class system that involves singular and plural patterns as well as agreement marking triggered by these noun classes. The agreement markers (or, concords) manifest on syntactic constituents like adjectives, numerals, verbs and others.


Generally speaking, RR and Luganda share many features regarding agreement, as it is with other Bantu languages. For Instance, both languages show subject and object agreement in their pronominal morphology. This article is however centered on those instances where Luganda and RR differ in their pronominal concordial agreement marking; but first we would like to give an overview of the noun class systems of both languages.

Bantu noun classes are categorized into noun classes on the basis of the prefixes that they take and it is the system of noun class prefixes that is the hall mark of Bantu nominal morphology(Katamba 2003).

Table 1 showing a juxtaposition of noun classes in Luganda and RR with examples.

Noun class number RR Luganda RR example Luganda example Gloss
1 (o)-mu- (o)-mu- omuntu omuntu person
2 (a)-ba- (a)-ba- (a)bantu (a)bantu persons
3 (o)-mu- (o)-mu- (o)muti (o)muti tree
4 (e)-mi- (e)-mi- (e)miti (e)miti tress
5 (e)-ri- (e)-li- (e)riisho (e)riiso eye
6 (a)-ma- (a)-ma- (a)maisho (a)amaaso eyes
7 (e)-ki- (e)-ki- (e)kitabo (e)kitabo book
8 (e)-bi- (e)-bi- (e)bitabo (e)bitabo books
9 (e)-n- (e)-n- (e)mbuzi (e)mbuzi goat
10 (e)-n- (e)-n- (e)mbuzi (e)mbuzi goats
11 (o)ru- (o)lu- (o)orurimi (o)olulimi tongue
12 (a)-ka- (a)-ka- (a)kasyo (a)kaso knife
13 (o)-tu- (o)-tu- (o)turo (o)tulo sleep
14 (o)-bu- (o)-bu- (o)bushera (o)buugi porridge
15 (o)-ku- (o)-ku- (o)kuguru (o)kugulu leg
16 (a)ha- wa- locative prefix
17 (o)ku- ku- locative prefix
18 (o)mu- mu- locative prefix
19 - - - - -
20 (o)-gu- (o)-gu- ogushaija ogusajja a big ugly man(agumentative)
21 - - - - -
22 (a)-ga- (a)-ga- agashaija agasajja big ugly men (agumentative)
23 - e - locative


NOTE: Both RR and Luganda share a few lexical nominal items. for exemplication purposes in table(1), we have used names which are similar in both languages. For instance we cannot use a noun like 'snake' because in RR it belongs to class 9 (e-n-joka) and in Luganda it is in class 3 (o-mu-sota).

Table 1 shows two particular phonological differences between RR and Luganda in the noun class system. RR has class 5 as (e)-ri- while Luganda has it as (e)-li-; and RR has class 16 as wa while Luganda has it as ha. For class 5 of RR to have ‘r’ and not ‘l’ is a fact of phonology of RR and Luganda. Generally, RR has no sound /l/ while Luganda has no sound /r/ (even when it is used in orthography). RR is rich in sound /h/ while Luganda has no such sound in speech except in exclamations. Wherever RR has /h/ Luganda has /w/, for instance RR, hanu here, Luganda wano here.


A noun class is signalled by:

  1. a pre-prefix and a prefix attached to the nominal stem for both singular and plural cases.
  2. grammatical agreement elements including: subject pronouns, object pronouns, possessive pronouns, adjective prefixes , and other sentence elements. See the following table.

Table II showing noun classes and their concords: RR

Noun class number Noun class Subject Prefix Direct object Genitive Adjective prefix
1 (o)-mu n-, o-, a- -n-, -ku-, -mu- wa (o)mu-
2 (a)-ba tu-, mu-, ba- -tu-, -ba, -ba- ba aba-
3 (o)-mu- gu -gu- gwa omu-
4 (e)-mi gi- -gi- eya emi-
5 (e)-ri- ri- -ri- erya eri-
6 (a)-ma- ga- -ga- aga ama
7 (e)-ki- ki- -ki- ekya eki
8 (e)-bi- bi- -bi- ebya ebi-
9 (e)-n- e-/ya -gi- eya en-
10 (e)-n- zi- -zi- eza en-
11 (o)-ru- ru- -ru- orwa oru-
12 (a)-ka- ka- -ka- aka aka-
13 (o)-tu- tu- -tu- otwa otu-
14 (o)-bu- bu- -bu- obwa obu-
15 (o)-ku- ku -ku- okwa oku-
20 (o)-gu- gu- -gu- ogwa ogu-
22 (a)-ga- ga- -ga- aga aga-

In RR and Luganda the SM and OB are the same except for class 9 where the SM in RR is either e- or ya- depending on either tense, aspect or mood of the verb. below are examples to illustrate this divergence:

1)
Esaati yangye ejubire
“My shirt is wet”
esaati
esaati
IVshirt9
N
yangye
yangye
9mine
PNposs
ejubire
ejubire
9wetSTAT
V
2)
Esaati yangye yaajuba
“My shirt has become wet”
esaati
esaati
IVshirt9
N
yangye
yangye
9mine
PNposs
yaajuba
yaajuba
9PRESwetIND
V
3)
Ente ebaagwe
“The cow should be slaughtered”
ente
ente
IV10cow
N
ebaagwe
ebaagwe
9slaughterPASSSBJV
V


As example (1) shows, the subject marker for nouns in class 9 is e- when the verb is in stative or perfective aspect and the progressive aspect. The near past tense and indicative mood trigger ya- as the subject marker as shown in (2). As exemplified in (3) above, if the verb is in imperative mood the SM is e-.

Bantu noun classes normally group into 10 or more singular/plural pairings. For RR and Luganda, classes 1 to 10 pair up as 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10 to form singular and plural forms respectively. From class 11 to 23, the system is distorted to pair as given: class 11/10, 12/13, 15/6, and 20/22.

Table II showing noun classes and their concords: Luganda

Noun class number Noun class Subject Prefix Direct object Genitive Adjective prefix
1 (o)-mu n-, o-, a- -n-, -ku-, -mu- wa (o)mu-
2 (a)-ba tu-, mu-, ba- -tu-, -ba, -ba- ba aba-
3 (o)-mu- gu -gu- gwa omu-
4 (e)-mi gi- -gi- egya emi-
5 (e)-li- li- -li- elya eli-
6 (a)-ma- ga- -ga- aga ama
7 (e)-ki- ki- -ki- ekya eki
8 (e)-bi- bi- -bi- ebya ebi-
9 (e)-n- e- -gi- eya en-
10 (e)-n- zi- -zi- eza en-
11 (o)-lu- lu- -lu- olwa olu-
12 (a)-ka- ka- -ka- aka aka-
13 (o)-tu- tu- -tu- otwa otu-
14 (o)-bu- bu- -bu- obwa obu-
15 (o)-ku- ku -ku- okwa oku-
20 (o)-gu- gu- -gu- ogwa ogu-
22 (a)-ga- ga- -ga- aga aga-