Academic journal article Studies in African Linguistics

Conditionals in Ndendeule

Academic journal article Studies in African Linguistics

Conditionals in Ndendeule

Article excerpt


Ndendeule (iso code dne) is a Bantu language spoken in southern Tanzania by an estimated 135,753 people (Mradi wa Lugha za Tanzania, 2009). In Maho's (2003) revised referential classification of Bantu languages by Guthrie (1967-71), Ndendeule is coded as N101 in the Manda group. Nurse groups it with the Rufiji languages (Nurse 1988), with Ngindo (P14) and Matengo (N13) as its closest relatives. Ndendeule has not been much described, except for Ngonyani (2010), which exists only as a manuscript. Data for this paper are supplied by the author, a native speaker from the Namtumbo District in Tanzania.

A conditional construction is a complex sentence that consists of a subordinate clause known as a protasis, or if-clause, and a main clause known as an apodosis. In logic, the protasis is designated as p and the apodosis as q. The protasis expresses a contingency upon which the fulfillment of the proposition of the apodosis depends (Thompson, Longacre and Hwang, 2007; Quirk et al. 1985; Podlesskaya, 2001). A prototypical example of a conditional comes from Quirk et al. (1985:1088):

(1) If the weather is fine, (then) we'll have a barbecue.

p q

The fulfillment of q is dependent on the truth of p. This means we will have a barbecue on the condition that the weather is fine. Adapting Comrie's (1986) proposed parameters of description of conditionals, this paper focuses on: (a) markers of protasis and apodosis in Ndendeule, (b) clause order, (c) interpretation, and (d) how form and function are interrelated.

Following this introductory section, an overview of the morphology of the Ndendeule verb is provided in ?2 to serve as background for how conditional markers and inflections interact. Markers of protases and apodoses are described in ?3. In ?4, the order of the two clauses is presented. The interpretation of conditionals is discussed in ?5. In addition, tense, aspect and mood inflections of conditional constructions are explored in this section. Concluding remarks appear in ?6.

2.Background to Ndendeule

As in other Bantu languages, the syntax of Ndendeule is richly encoded in the morphology. This section presents an overview of relevant features of the morphology and sentence construction.

The morphological structure of an Ndendeule verb is highly agglutinative, consisting of up to eight slots, as shown in (2). It consists of inflectional prefixes for relative marker, object marker, subject marker, tense, negation and object marker. The suffixes may be derivational, known as verb extensions, aspect marker and mood in the final slot.

(2) The morphological structure of an Ndendeule verb

RM/COND - SM - NEG - Tense - OM - Root - EXT - FIN

In any single verb, not all slots need be filled; the root is the only part that appears in all cases. Example (3) below illustrates the different parts of the verb with the root hemel 'buy'.

(3) bh-aki-ti-hemel-el-a3

2SM-PT -lPL-buy-APP-FV

'they bought for us'

In this example seven of the slots of the verb are filled. There is a subject marker agreeing with a Class 2 nominal (2SM), followed by prehodiernal past tense (PT). Immediately after tense, there is an object marker for 'us' (1PL). The root is followed by the derivational suffix -el, which is the applicative extension (APP). The final vowel (FV) marks the default indicative mood.

Ngonyani (2010) identifies five inflectional prefixes that express time, as shown in (4).

(4) Tense Marker

a. Present -i-/ø

b. Dependent -akac.

c. Prehodiernal Past -akid.

d. Indefinite Past -ae.

e. Future cha

The prefix -i-/ø marks the present tense. For time before today (prehordiernal past), the prefix is - aki-. The term "prehodiernal" is derived from Latin hodie 'today. ' Therefore, prehodiernal past usually expresses events before today. In contrast to this, -a- is not limited to hodiernal or prehordiernal past. …

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