Vol 26 No 4 (2017): Nordic Journal of African Studies
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A Note on Bantu Extensions and Syntactic Word Formation

Jochen Zeller
Nordic Journal of African Studies
Published December 31, 2017

Abstract

Suffix order in Bantu is determined by two (sometimes conflicting) principles. According to the Mirror Principle, affix orders must reflect scope relations, while the CARP template requires suffixes to appear in a fixed linear order. This paper discusses examples from different Bantu languages where a particular affix order violates one of these principles, and it describes how these cases are analysed in two prominent syntactic theories of word formation. In Distributed Morphology, words are formed via syntactic head movement, but the linear order of affixes can be changed by morphological rules that apply post-syntactically. In an alternative approach, all possible suffix orders are derived by phrasal movement in the syntax. I show that the Bantu data support the Distributed Morphology approach, because in this theory, Mirror Principle effects follow directly from the strictly local nature of the syntactic process that derives complex words, viz. head movement.