A linguistic analysis of Mbunda.
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This work provides a linguistic analysis of Mbunda language as spoken by native speakers in Kalabo District of Western Province, Zambia. It describes three levels of linguistic analysis namely Phonology, Morphology and Syntax. Mbunda ya Mathzi dialect is used for this study as it is considered the standard form. In conducting the research, the researcher completed a list of 200 basic vocabulary items (Swadesh list) after which he exposed it to four native speakers of Mbunda for verification and pronunciation. The pronunciations were recorded in order to assist with the sound system of the language (Phonology) and also for use in the other levels of linguistic analysis as some of the terms were eventually used in context of sentences (Syntax). The rest of the information was generated through introspection. Information generated as such was equally verified. With regard to phonology, the study reveals that Mbunda has a five vowel system with twenty one consonants. In order to identify the distinctiveness of consonants and vowels, a minimal pair test is conducted. Arising from the minimal pairs, the study has discovered that Mbunda is one of the few Bantu languages with the voiceless dental fricative /θ/ as in the English word „thing‟. The study also reveals that tone and vowel length can mark distinction in terms of word meaning. The common syllable types in Mbunda are V, CV, CSV and SV. Morphologically, the study shows that Mbunda has eighteen noun classes achieved, mostly, through the addition of a prefix to a stem. The study navigates the semantic role(s) of each noun class. An account of Mbunda Verbal system is provided in which it is evident that the verbal system of the language is heavy with affixes that play different roles as can be observed from verbal extensions present in the language. Syntactically, the basic word order is SVO. It is noted, from the data collected, that Mbunda has a word order that is not restrictive in terms of the position of the main clause; it depends on what one wants to emphasize. Yes/no questions are expressed through intonation (sentence-final rising pitch) and change in word order and through a questioning particle. Data collected shows presence of interrogatives which are used in formation of content questions. The study has addressed some aspects of the three levels of linguistic analysis. It is, therefore, recommended that future linguistic studies on Mbunda address areas absent in this paper and possibly look at the other levels of linguistic analysis as they apply to the concerned language.
The University of Zambia