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Meaning and Meaning-Extension of the Verb Kata in Kiswahili

Devet Goodness, PhD*


This paper presents an analysis of the verb ‘kata’ in Kiswahili. It examines the semantic behavior of the verb ‘kata’. It pays attention to the semantic expansion of the verb ‘kata’ when it co-occurs with different nouns to create metaphorical meanings.

In this paper, it is shown that the verb ‘kata’ is extremely productive and allows as many meanings as possible when it co-occurs with different nouns. The findings show that the semantic features of the verb kata change depending on the features of the objects, and whether they are in metaphorical or concrete contexts.

It is found that the there is a relationship between the metaphorical meaning obtained in a combination kata plus noun, and the basic meaning of the verb kata. It was also found
that the different co-occurences between the verb kata and different nouns are rule governed.

The paper argues that metaphors are not a result of violation of selectional restrictions in a given context as Wilks (1978) argues to be the case, but are a result of strict semantic rules.


semantic extension, pragmatic analysis, verb kata, Kiswahili

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