Bantu lexical classes and semantic universals

Frank Heny


This paper has three related yet partially independent aims. In the first place I want to argue for a particular analysis of Shona adjectives, showing that at a rather deep syntactic level they are closely related to nouns. Secondly, I want to show that this analysis tends to vindicate the hypothesis of a syntactically and semantically defined level quite close to Chomsky's (1965) deep structure. Thirdly, I hope that the paper may serve as a ind of prolegomenon to a theory of lexical classes -- an important yet almost totally neglected aspect of the theory of natural language. In developing the argument for the analysis of adjectives, which is the central part of the paper, I shall deal primarily with some problems in the concord system. It will be necessary to demonstrate that a phonological solution is inappropriate although apparently possible within current theory. Some general restrictions are proposed on the use of morphological features or syntactic brackets in phonological rules, and it is argued briefly that the lexicon must probably include some of the rules which are now treated as phonological -- i.e. some of the P-rules.

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