The ‘new adjectives’ of Tswana

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In addition to a class of adjectives inherited from Proto-Bantu, characterized by a set of class agreement prefixes identical to the class prefixes of nouns, Tswana has words expressing meanings of the type commonly expressed by adjectives. These occur in the same syntactic positions as the words traditionally identified as adjectives, but different from them in class agreement morphology, since the agreement prefixes they take in attributive function are different from the class prefixes of nouns, and coincide with the subject markers attached to non-verbal predicates in descriptive predication. Most of these words also have nominal uses with meanings related to the meanings they express as adjectives. The paper concludes that the ‘new adjectives’ constitute an emerging word class whose development follows from the use of nouns as descriptive predicates in a predicative construction typically used with adjectives in predicate function.


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