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A Comparative Study of Headedness in Ruhaya Compounds

Emmanuel Ilonga*


This paper presents endocentric and exocentric compounds in Ruhaya, with specific focus on their lexical properties, position of headwords, semantic relation between headwords and modifiers, and the semantic classification of noun-noun compounds.

It offers a comparison between Ruhaya and other Bantu languages on these aspects, and extends the comparison to Indo-European languages (English, Dutch and French).

It was found that Ruhaya has left-headed compounds, and words from the same and different lexical categories can combine to make up compound words.

In the case of headed compounds, there is a kind of semantic relations through which modifiers slightly change the meaning of headwords. With an exception of Northern Sotho, in which a prefix of the left-most word becomes the head, the left-most word in Ruhaya, Bemba and Kiswahili is the head.

In comparison with Indo-European languages, French is leftheaded
in this regard, while Dutch and English are right-headed.


compounding, headedness, semantic classification, comparative Bantu, Ruhaya

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