Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Tense Sensitivity of Shambala Relative Markers

Salehe Kaoneka


This article goes a step ahead from the focus of relative clause formation strategies in Shambala provided in previous Shambala studies (c.f. Besha, 200; and Riedel, 2009). It describes relative formation strategies in the Shambala Bantu language (G.23) by focusing on the analysis of the constraints posed by relative markers on tense systems of the language. The study reveals three important issues: first, the positioning of the Shambala relative markers is highly constrained by tense; second, in unmarked situations, every relative marker is restricted to a particular tense; and third, when marked, some relative markers may refer to other tenses by means of the auxiliaries ka- and –za-.


Keywords: relative clause, relative marker, Shambala; tense sensitivity; -features

Full Text:



Besha, R. 1993. A Classified Vocabulary of the Shambala Language, with Outline Grammar. Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa

—. 2000. Miundo ya Urejeshi Katika Kishambala. In K. Kahigi, Y. Kihore and M. Mous (eds.). Lugha za Tanzania - Languages of Tanzania: Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Prof. Clement Maganga. Leiden: CNWS Publications.

Bethel Mission. 1931. Mbuli za Miviko. Fungu ja Mbili. Vuga: Mission Press.

Cheng, L. & L. Downing. 2010. Locative Relatives in Durban Zulu. ZAS Papers in Linguistics 53: 33–52.

Cheng, L. & N. Kula. 2006. Syntactic and Phonological Phrasing in Bemba Relatives. ZAS Papers in Linguistics, 43:31–54.

Chomsky, N. 1986. Barriers. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Cocchi, G. 2004. Relative Clauses in Bantu: Affixes as Relative Markers. Rivista di Grammatica Generativa, 29: 61–84.

Demuth, K & C. Harford. 1999. Verb Raising and Subject Inversion in Bantu Relatives. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 20(1): 41–61.

Doke, C. 1935. Bantu Linguistic Terminology. London: Longman, Green & Co.

Downing, L & A. Mtenje. 2011. Prosodic Phrasing of Chichewa Relative Clauses. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 32: 65–111.

Harford, C & K. Demuth. 1999. Prosody Outranks Syntax: An Optimality Approach to Subject-Verb Inversion in Bantu Relatives. Linguistic Analysis 29(1–2): 47–68.

Karneva, J. 1990. Focus and Phrasing in Chichewa Phonology. New York: Garland.

Kinyalolo, K. 1991. Syntactic Dependencies and the Spec-Head Agreement Hypothesis in KiLega. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA, Los Angeles, California.

Koopman, H. 1992. The Absence of Case Chains in Bambara. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 10: 555–94.

Kuteva, T & B. Comrie. 2006. The Typology of Relative Clause Formation in African Languages. In F.K Erhard Voeltz (ed.). Studies in African Linguistic Typology, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 209–228.

Letsholo, R. 2009. The ‘Forgotten’ Structure of Ikalanga Relatives. Studies in African Linguistics. 38(2): 131–154.

Meeussen, A. 1971. Relative clauses in Bantu. Studies in African Linguistics. Supplement 2: 3–10.

Morrison, E. 2011. A Reference Grammar of Bena. PhD thesis, Rice University: Houston Texas.

Mtenje, A. 2011. On Relative Clauses and Prosodic Phrasing in Ciwandya. ZAS Papers of Linguistics, 55: 121–139.

Mugane, J. 2003. Hybrid Constructions in Gikuyu: Agentive Nominalizations and Infinitive-Gerund Constructions. In Nominals: Inside and Out, In Miriam Butt and Tracy Holloway King (eds.). Stanford, Calif.: Center for the Study of Language and Information, pp. 235–266.

Ngonyani, D. 1999. XO Movement in Kiswahili Relative Clause Verbs. Linguistic Analysis 29: 1–2, 137–159.

—. 2001. Evidence for Head Raising in Kiswahili Relative Clauses. Studies in African Linguistics, 30(1): 59–73.

Pak, M. 2007. Relative Clauses Without CP in Luganda. University of Pennsylvania.

Partin, C. 2010. The Prosody of Shingazidja Relatives. ZAS Papers of Linguistics, 53: 187–209.

Perrett, D.V. 1957. Teach Yourself Swahili, 2nd edn. Sevenoaks, Kent: Hodder and Stoughton.

Riedel, K. 2009. The Syntax of Object Marking in Sambaa: A Comparative Bantu Perspective. Doctoral thesis, University of Leiden.

—. 2010. Relative Clauses in Haya. ZAS Papers in Linguistics, 53: 211–225.

Rugemalira, J. 2005. A Grammar of Runyambo. Dar es Salaam: LOT Publications, University of Dar es Salaam.

Simango, R. 2006. Verb Agreement and the Syntax of CinSenga Relative Clauses. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 24(3): 277–290.

Steere, E. 1867. Collections for a Handbook of the Shambala Language. Magila, Msalabani: Universities’ Mission to Central Africa.

The Bible Society in Tanzania. 1969. Kilagha Kihya. Dodoma, Tanzania: The Bible Society in Tanzania.

Thomas, J. 2011. The Relative Marker and Long Distance Dependencies in L2 Acquisition of Swahili Relative Clause. Selected Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference on African Linguistics. pp. 36–52. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Willems, E. 1949. Le Tshiluba du Kasayi pour Débutants, 2nd edn. Hemptinne St. Benoit (Congo).

Zwart, J. 1997. A Short Note on Relative Constructions in Lega and Swahili. (Ms). The University of Groningen.

List of


  • There are currently no refbacks.