Vol 30 No 1 (2021): Nordic Journal of African Studies
Articles Linguistics

The Noun Class System of Bwala, an Undocumented Teke Language from the DRC (Bantu, B70z)

Flore Bollaert
UGent Centre for Bantu Studies (BantUGent), Department of Languages and Cultures
Sara Pacchiarotti
UGent Centre for Bantu Studies (BantUGent), Department of Languages and Cultures
Koen Bostoen
UGent Centre for Bantu Studies (BantUGent), Department of Languages and Cultures
Journal cover image for the Nordic Journal of African Studies. Image of Africa and the Nordic States
Published March 24, 2021
Keywords
  • Bantu,
  • Teke (B70),
  • language documentation and description,
  • nominal classification,
  • morphological change,
  • historical linguistics
  • ...More
    Less

Abstract

This paper presents the noun class system of Bwala, a nearly undocumented and undescribed Bantu language of the Teke group spoken in the Kinshasa Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Genealogically speaking, Bwala belongs to the Kasai-Ngounie (Extended) subclade, one of the major monophyletic groups within West-Coastal Bantu. Bwala has seven singular classes (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 14, 15) and five plural classes (2, 4, 6, 8, 10) which form nine singular/plural noun class pairings (1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 5/10, 5/4, 7/8, 7/6, 9/6, 14/6). The paper furthermore addresses the diachronic changes which the Bwala noun class system underwent with respect to Proto-Bantu (PB). We compare these to the changes identified by Hyman, Lionnet, and Ngolele (2019) for Teke-Ewo, a closely related variety, with the aim of identifying morphological innovations shared between varieties of the so-called Teke group (Bantu B70).