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Augmentation in Luganda

by Medadi Erisa Ssentanda


In Luganda, augmentation is denoted by several classes including class 5, 7, 8, 11, 20 and 22.

Class 5, 7 and 11 have inherent nouns, but classes 20 and 22 do not. The semantic meaning derived through augmentation may indicate intensity of size, derogatoriness and other meanings that are pejorative in nature.

Let us first look at classes that have inherent nouns and later loot at those that undergo augmentation.

Nouns inherent to cl5 (e)li-. See the table below:

Nouns inherent to cl5 English translation
eliiso eye
elinnyo tooth
eliggwa thorn
ettama chick
eddungu desert
eppaapaali pawpaw
ekkundi ambilical cord
ekkelenda tablet

The basic prefix for class 5 is /li/ which undergoes intricate phonological changes of assimilation. Almost any noun can be augmented by adding a class 5 prefix, eli- to the noun stem. Augmentation done in this class denotes size or a quality of something that is above the normal or average.

Non inherent nouns to cl5 English translation
eddenzi fat boy
essajja fat/very big fat man
elyana very big bay

Class 7 Eki

Examples of nouns inherent to this class include:

Nouns inherent to cl7 English translation
ekikopo cup
ekibiina class
ekyoto fireplace
ekisumuluzo key
ekisenge bedromm

Ki- class also expresses something as above normal size or quality. Usually the quality implied here is size and usually with a derogatory sense. The plural for this class is class 8 ebi-.

Class 11 Olu-

Inherent nouns to class 11 olu-

Nouns inherent to cl11 English translation
oluso slasher
olulimi tongue
oluggya compound
oluku firewood
olupapula paper
olulagala banana leaf
olweyo broom
olubaawo blackboard
olutindo bridge
olukoma palm tree

All nouns in class 11 have an inherent meaning of long, slim, small or spread out. From the examples given it can be noticed that all those nouns have these attributes. So, every noun augmented with olu necessary has those atributes. For the non-inherent nouns augmented with class 11, there is an added attribute of derogatoriness.

The noun omulenzi boy is augmented by replacing the noun class marker omu with olu which make the noun augmented and derogatory as well. In this case, the noun in reference (say, omulenzi) necessarily has a quality of "longness".

Class 20 ogu and class 22 aga These two classes, 20 ogu- and 22 aga- have no inherent nouns. These two classes denote abnormality in size and quality and usually carry a derogatory implication (Ashton et al 1954:363). Any noun can be augmented with class 20 in singular and class 22 in plural respectively.