Suffix ordering in Bantu: a morphocentric approach

  • Larry M. Hyman
Part of the Yearbook of Morphology book series (YOMO)

Summary and Conclusions

In the previous sections I have presented a number of arguments in favor of the view that suffix ordering in Bantu is templatic in the default case. In almost all Bantu languages, causative and applicative suffixes must appear in a single fixed order. Where suffixes occur in two different orders, e.g. CAUS and REC, one sequence is licensed by the general CARP template, while the other is attributable to a specific MIRROR constraint referring to that sequence. The striking conclusion to drawn from this study is that there is no evidence that Bantu suffix ordering is driven by semantic compositionality or by a general Mirror Principle. Instead, these pressures are low-ranked in Bantu and, when present, have a limited effect on the overall system, as we have seen.27 That Bantu suffix ordering is largely templatic is also supported by phonological conditions which enter into the realization of suffix combinations.28 As I have also implied, the elaborated synchronic CARCP template in (28) is in part arbitrary, the product of history. This conclusion thus challenges the fundamental approach of those who have cited Bantu derivational suffixes in support of a non-arbitrary relation between morphology and syntax, or between morphology and semantics. Whether or not such relations occur elsewhere, Bantu suffixation provides strong evidence for the autonomy of morphology.


Semantic Compositionality Bantu Language Syntactic Operation Semantic Scope Phonological Condition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abasheikh, Mohammad (1978). The grammar of Chimwi: ni causatives. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Illinois.Google Scholar
  2. Alsina, Alex (1999). Where’s the mirror principle? The Linguistic Review 16, 1–42.Google Scholar
  3. Arnott, D.W. (1970). The nominal and verbal systems of Fula. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baker, Mark (1985). The mirror principle and morphosyntactic explanation. Linguistic Inquiry 16,373–415.Google Scholar
  5. Baker, Mark (1988a). Incorporation: A theory of grammatical function changing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Baker, Mark (1988b). Theta theory and the syntax of applicatives in Chichewa. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 6, 353–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bastin, Y. (1986). Les suffixes causatifs dans les langues bantoues. In Africana Linguistica X. Annales du Musée Royale de ľAfrique Centrale. Série IN-8, Sciences Humaines.N. 121. Tervuren, 55–145.Google Scholar
  8. Blevins, Juliette (2002). Evolutionary phonology. To appear, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bresnan, Joan and Lioba Moshi (1993). Object asymmetries in comparative Bantu syntax. In Sam Mchombo (ed.), Theoretical aspects of Bantu grammar. Stanford: CSLI, 47–91.Google Scholar
  10. Bybee, Joan L (1985). Morphology: A study of the relation between meaning and form. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  11. Ellington, John (1977). Aspects of the Tiene language. PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
  12. Güldeman, Tom (1999). The genesis of verbal negation in Bantu and its dependency on functional features of clause types. In Jean-Marie Hombert and Larry M. Hyman (eds.), Bantu historical linguistics: Theoretical and empirical perspectives. Stanford: CSLI, 545–587.Google Scholar
  13. Good, Jeffrey C. (2001). Causativization and applicativization in Bantu: Evidence for an evolutionary approach to morpheme ordering restrictions. Ms. University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  14. Guthrie, Malcolm (1962). On the status of radical extensions in Bantu languages. Journal of African Languages 1, 202–220.Google Scholar
  15. Henson, Bonnie (1999). Mòkpè morphology: Template or layered? Ms. University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  16. Horton, A.E. (1949). A grammar of Luvale. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hulstaert, G. (1965). Grammaire du Lomongo. IIe Partie, Morphologie. Tervuren: Musée Royal de ľAfrique Centrale.Google Scholar
  18. Hyman, Larry M. (1993). Conceptual issues in the comparative study of the Bantu verb stem. Salikoko S. Mufwene and Lioba Moshi (eds.), Topics in African Linguistics. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 3–34.Google Scholar
  19. Hyman, Larry M. (1994). Cyclic phonology and morphology in Cibemba. In Jennifer Cole and Charles Kisseberth (eds.), Perspectives in Phonology. Stanford: C.S.L.I., 81–112.Google Scholar
  20. Hyman, Larry M. (2002a). Cyclicity and base non-identity. In David Restle and Dietmar Zaefferer (eds.), Sounds and Systems. Studies in Structure and Change. A Festschrift for Theo Vennemann (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 223–239.Google Scholar
  21. Hyman, Larry M. (2002b). Sound Change, misanalysis, and analogy in the Bantu causative. To appear in Journal of African Languages and Linguistics.Google Scholar
  22. Hyman, Larry M. and Sharon Inkelas (1997). Emergent templates: the unusual case of Tiene. In Viola Miglio and Bruce Morén (eds.), Selected phonology papers from H-OT-97. University of Maryland Working Papers in Linguistics 5, 92–116.Google Scholar
  23. Hyman, Larry M. and Sam Mchombo (1992). Morphotactic constraints in the Chichewa verb stem. Berkeley Linguistic Society 18, 350–364.Google Scholar
  24. Itô, Junko, Armin Mester and Jaye Padgett (1995). Licensing and underspecification in Optimality Theory. Linguistic Inquiry 26, 571–614.Google Scholar
  25. Kathupa, José Mateus Muária (1991). The grammar of Emakhuwa verbal extensions. Doctoral dissertation, SOAS, University of London.Google Scholar
  26. Kisseberth, Charles W. and Mohammad Abasheikh (1974). A case of systematic avoidance of homonyms. Studies in the Linguistic Sciences 4, 107–124.Google Scholar
  27. Kisseberth, Charels W. and Mohammad Abasheikh (1975). The perfect stem in Chi-Mwi: ni and global rules. Studies in African Linguistics 6, 249–266.Google Scholar
  28. Maganga, Clement and Schadeberg, Thilo C. (1992). Kinyamwezi: grammar, texts, vocabulary. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.Google Scholar
  29. Mathangwane, Joyce T. (2000). Suffix ordering in the Ikalanga verb stem: A case against the Repeated Morph Constraint. Southern African Journal of African Languages 24.Google Scholar
  30. Meinhof, C. (1932). Introduction to the Phonology of the Bantu Languages (translated by N.J. van Warmelo ed.). Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.Google Scholar
  31. Meeussen, A.E. (1959). Essai de grammaire rundi. Tervuren: Musée Royal de ľAfrique Centrale.Google Scholar
  32. Meeussen, A.E. (1967). Bantu grammatical reconstructions. Annales du Musée Royal de ľAfrique Centrale, Série 8, Sciences Humaines. Tervuren, 61, 81–121.Google Scholar
  33. Menn, Lise and Brian MacWhinney (1984). The Repeated morph constraint: Toward an explanation. Language 60(3).Google Scholar
  34. Muysken, Pieter (1988). Affix order and interpretation: Quechua. In Martin Everaert et al. (eds.), Morphology and modularity. Dordrecht: Foris, 259–279.Google Scholar
  35. Myers, Scott (1987). Tone and the structure of words in Shona. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
  36. Ngunga, Armindo (2000). Lexical phonology and morphology of Ciyao. Stanford: CSLI.Google Scholar
  37. Orgun, Orhan (1996). Sign-based phonology and morphology, with special attention to optimality theory. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  38. Perlmutter, David (1971). Deep and surface structure constraints in syntax. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  39. Prince, Alan and Paul Smolensky (1993). Optimality theory: Constraint interaction in generative grammar. Ms. Rutgers University and University of Colorado, Boulder.Google Scholar
  40. Pylkkänen, Liina (2002). Verbal domains: Causative formation at the root, category, and phase levels. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. San Francisco, January 3–6, 2002.Google Scholar
  41. Rice, Keren (2000). Morpheme order and semantic scope. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Schumann, C. (1899). Grundriss einer Grammatik der Kondesprache. Mitteilungen des Orientalische Seminars zu Berlin 2, 3: 1–86.Google Scholar
  43. Sibanda, Galen (1999). Constraints in Ndebele Suffix Ordering. Ms. University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  44. Spencer, Andrew (1991). Morphological theory. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  45. Smolensky, Paul (1993). Harmony, markedness, and phonological activity. Paper presented at the Rutgers Optimality Workshop, Rutgers University. ROA-87.Google Scholar
  46. Stump, Gregory (1997). Template morphology and inflectional morphology. In Geert Booij and Jaap van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of Morphology 1996, 217–241. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Larry M. Hyman
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of LinguisticsUniversity of California at BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations