Beermann, D. and Allen Asiimwe (2008) Locative prepositions in Runyankitara - A study in Bantu
Keywords: lexical semantics, spatial semantics, prepositional phrases, locative expressions,
prepositional functions, attribute-value matrices, meaning spaces
Runyakitara|Runyankore-Rukiga provides a rich grammatical inventory for hosting spatial concepts. Next to three nominal class markers which encode deixis as well as topological notions, verbs may carry spatial suffixes. Also spatial nouns are used, some of which combine either with omu, corresponding to English in, or aha, which can mean on, at, near or around. Both omu and aha may occur in isolation as locative prepositions. Dependent on the grammatical context they can have several meanings.
(1) illustrates the locative use of omu while (2) illustrates a partitive construction.
Twarugaho twahika Nakawa, omu burugwaizooba bwa Kampala.
“We left that place and reached Nakawa, in the west of Kampala.”
emiyembe emihango omuri yo.
“the big ones of the mangos”
As already observed by Taylor 1985 omu and aha can undergo morphological changes. Taylor observes that extended prepositional forms occurs when the prepositions precede a pronominal or a proper noun. We further observed that extended forms occur when the locative phrase internal nominal is preceded by a demonstrative.
In our work on Runyankore-Rukiga we have identified several senses for both prepositions; a table listing senses for omu is given below:
we use the abbreviation PALP.LVL to refer to palpability levels, a term used to characterize the tangibility of a reading.
From the perspective of Indo-European languages, the concept embodied by aha is clearly less familiar than that associated with omu. The latter, when used spatially, denotes an inside-location clearly delineated by the GROUND. Aha on the other hand refers to a place external to, but nevertheless included in the space conceptually related to the GROUND. Aha can mean on, at , near, or around and expresses a typological notion that seems to encompass several independent spatial concepts in e.g., English. Grounding an object by locating it in the vicinity or on top of another object without specifying a more exclusive place is to our knowledge not a concept lexicalized at least in the Germanic languages. Aha refers to a space which is only dimensioned by the fact that it is in some sense determined by the presence of the GROUND.
A typical use of the preposition aha is given below with another example from the TypeCraft database:
Naareeba enkoko aha rwigi rw’eifumbiro.
“I have seen the hen near/at/on the kitchen door.”
For a complete list of examples browse the TypeCraft database by clicking on *Text search* in our TypeCraft navigation bar. For your search select Runyankore-Rukiga as language.
The text was last updated: December 2010