Original Research

Identificative copulatives in Southern Ndebele: evidence for diachronic postulations in Zulu

L. Posthumus
Literator | Vol 27, No 2 | a195 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v27i2.195 | © 2006 L. Posthumus | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2006 | Published: 30 July 2006

About the author(s)

L. Posthumus, Department of African Languages, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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Southern Ndebele is the language with the smallest number of speakers of all eleven official languages of South Africa. It is thus not surprising that there is no comprehensive description of the copulatives of this language. This article offers an exposition of the grammatical structure of the identificative copulatives of Southern Ndebele. The basic grammatical structure of the copulatives of this language is very similar to that of Zulu. However, the unfailing occurrence of a copulative verb stem “-si” in all negative stative copulatives is an outstanding characteristic of Southern Ndebele. The occurrence of this copulative verb stem in Southern Ndebele offers the strongest language external evidence (in support of language internal evidence) of the underlying negative stative copulative of Zulu as being “-si” as well. The identificative copulative particle that occurs as “ngi” with the pronouns of all persons and noun classes as complement in Southern Ndebele, also serves as language external evidence for the postulation of the identificative copulative particle of Zulu as “ngi”. Zulu grammarians postulate this identificative copulative particle of Zulu as “nga”, “ngu” or even “ng”. It is argued in this article that the identificative copulative particle of Zulu is indeed “ngi”.


Copula; The Identificative Copulatives In Southern Ndebele And Zulu; Diachronic Postulation; The Stative Copulative Verb Stem-Si; Identificative Copulatives; Comparison Southern Ndebele Vs Zulu; Identificative Copulatives; Southern Ndebele


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