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Semantic Change: A Study of Lexical Changes in Luganda.

Nabukeera Gloria. Mphil Linguistics 2007/2009.

The title of my Masters thesis is Semantic Change, which is based on lexical changes in Luganda, a Bantu Language spoken in Eastern Africa in the Southern part of Uganda. The thesis is funded by the Norwegian State Loan Fund (Lannekassen), under the quota scholarship scheme. The central focus of this study is to document the socio linguistic conditions, causes, and patterns of semantic change in Luganda. Following researchers and Linguists such as McMahon (2001) this study is guided by semantic change based on the associative principles of similarity, contiguity and contrast by Blank (1997), who distinguishes the following types of semantic change: metaphoric change based on a similarity of senses, metonymy, change based on a contiguity of senses, folk-etymology, change based on a similarity of names, ellipsis, change based on a contiguity of names and the consequences of semantic change like widening of meaning, raise of quantity, narrowing of meaning: loss of quantity, amelioration of meaning which raises meaning quality and finally, pejoration of meaning which involves loss of quality in word meaning.

The fieldwork phase of this study was carried out in Uganda during the month of June, July and August 2008. The write up phase is still ongoing in Norway until June 2009. A range of data collection instruments such as questionnaires, key informants and dictionary reviews were employed by the researcher in order to come gather sufficient data. The data was collected from both primary and secondary data sources. Under primary data, are the key informant interviews and questionnaires while secondary data included document review such as Luganda etymological dictionaries. The primary data consisted of both qualitative (key informant interviews) and quantitative (individual questionnaires). As a native speaker of Luganda, the researcher developed a corpus of words that seem to be used in more than one sense or reference in different communities, which might have under gone semantic lexical change in Luganda. These words were developed into a questionnaire which was administered to Luganda speakers in a Kampala (the capital city of Uganda) suburb known as Wandegeya. The respondents were requested to identify words whose meaning has changed basing on the examples given by the researcher in the questionnaire. These were later cross checked in Luganda dictionaries to take not semantic changes in word usage (if any).

The data from key informants and questionnaires was collected in written form as the researcher took notes during the interviews. Data from the questionnaires was filled in by the researcher, in space provided in the questionnaire while the respondents provided verbal responses. Key informants were selected on the basis of having knowledge about the study subject of lexical semantic changes in Luganda. Among these were University Lecturers and Professors in the field of semantics, and Post Graduate students interested in semantic lexical change. Employees at media houses such as Radio Buganda CBS else who were identified (through recommendation of other informants) as having broad knowledge about semantic lexical change and were willing to offer guidance about lexical semantic change in Luganda.

In order to ensure reliability and validity of the results, the data that was collected from the field was enlisted from the several sources such as the questionnaires to form a data base that indicates several attributes about the lexical items in dictionary entry format. These include:- The entry, Pronunciation, Grammatical category, Morphological information, Original meaning (M1), Etymology, Definition of word, Example of usage (this will be entered into type craft for annotation), Meaning two/acquired meaning (M2), Definition of word,and Example of usage. Basing on the information gathered in the data base, the findings of this study will be discussed in terms of conditions, causes and patterns of lexical semantic change. The last chapter of this thesis will provide recommendations to this study.

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