Vol 21 No 3 (2012): Nordic Journal of African Studies
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Towards a Part-of-Speech Ontology: Encoding Morphemic Units of Two South African Bantu Languages

Gertrud Faaß
University of South Africa
Sonja Bosch
University of South Africa
Elsabé Taljard
University of Pretoria
Nordic Journal of African Studies
Published September 30, 2012


This article describes the design of an electronic knowledge base, namely a morpho-syntactic database structured as an ontology of linguistic categories, containing linguistic units of two related languages of the South African Bantu group: Northern Sotho and Zulu. These languages differ significantly in their surface orthographies, but are very similar on the lexical and sub-lexical levels. It is therefore our goal to describe the morphemes of these languages in a single common database in order to outline and interpret commonalities and differences in more detail. Moreover, the relational database which is developed defines the underlying morphemic units (morphs) for both languages. It will be shown that the electronic part-ofspeech ontology goes hand in hand with part-of-speech tagsets that label morphemic units. This database is designed as part of a forthcoming system providing lexicographic and linguistic knowledge on the official South African Bantu languages.