Article published in:Advances in Functional Linguistics: Columbia School beyond its origins
Edited by Joseph Davis, Radmila J. Gorup and Nancy Stern
[Studies in Functional and Structural Linguistics 57] 2006
► pp. 211–222
The difference between zero and nothing
Swahili noun class prefixes 5 and 9/10
Most Swahili noun class prefixes are overt, e.g. m-toto/wa-toto ‘child/children’. However, for Classes 5 and 9/10 an overt prefix occurs only in certain morphophonemic contexts. Despite superficial similarities, only the Cl. 5 prefix should be analyzed as zero (meaningful absence); Cl. 9/10 nouns simply lack a prefix. Evidence includes differences in singular-plural patterns and in derivational productivity of prefix absence. Prefix absence indicates (inherent or derived) Cl. 5 membership and singular number. The availability of prefixless Cl. 9/10, outside the normal class and number systems, helps preserve the coherence of the noun class system, and allows zero to convey meaning in the case of Cl. 5.
Published online: 20 December 2006
Cited by 3 other publications
No author info given
Dowling, Tessa & Lara Krause
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 14 october 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.