The grammar of negation in bemba.

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Musonda, Davies Maron
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The University of Zambia
Across all the languages, there are two types of negation: morphological and syntactic. The former refers to negation expressed by a morpheme while the latter is a concept referring to expression of negation by a lexical item. In principle, Bemba uses morphological negation. The study analyses the morphemes which express negation in the verbal construction of Standard Bemba, a Bantu language classified as M42 by Guthrie (1968). The concept of Standard Bemba is predicated on the idea of a dialect which the government, through the Ministry of General Education, has chosen as a Regional Official Language taught in schools in the Northern region of Zambia (Jimaima et al, 2016). According to Ohannessian & Kashoki (1978: 30) Bemba is a Niger-Congo language of the Central Narrow Bantu branch that is categorised as part of Zone M in Guthrie’s (1948, 1967- 71) classification of Bantu languages. It is spoken in Zambia (mainly in the Northern, Luapula and Copperbelt provinces) and in the Southern Democratic Republic of Congo by approximately 3.3 million speakers (Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2013). Bemba has several dialects, though there are no systematic studies on the exact number and the differences between possible dialects. This be the case as it may, the standard Bemba dialect is spoken in Kasama and Chinsali districts of the Northern and Muchinga Provinces of Zambia, respectively (Ohannessian & Kashoki, 1978). The formatives explored are the three basic negative markers; ta-, -sh()- and –i-. This study has further discussed some special cases of expressing negation such as the use of the predicative morpheme tee- ‘it is not’, the auxiliary morpheme –kana- ‘refuse’ and negation in various verbal forms of the irregular verb ‘to be’. It has been indicated that the presence of the negative morpheme, more often than not, affects the tonal pattern of the entire verb form. Additionally, the presence or absence of the negative morpheme can determine the presence and/or absence of other verb morphemes. On the other hand, it has been found that there are a number of parameters which determine the shape of the negation morpheme among which are; sentence type (absolutive or relative), occurrence, Tense, Aspect, Mood and grammatical Person. Standard Bemba has two positions on the verbal template on which negation is expressed. On the general Bantu verbal template, the slots on either side of the subject marker (SM) are occupied by the negative morphemes. The study has further postulated that Bemba does not allow double expression of negation, that is, one verb can take only one negation morpheme. This implies that the position of the negation morpheme, like all other verbal morphemes, is subject to constraints. The negative shape –sh()- takes any of the two vowels; -a or –i depending on the tense. In the present tense, it takes –i- while the vowel –a- is taken in the past and future tenses. The two NEG forms; -i-, and – sh()- always occur word - internally. The NEG ta- and other non-standard negation morphemes occur peri-phrastically. The form –i- is almost always applicable to the negation of imperatives. In the imperatives, the NEG occurs between the SM and the TA. The NEG form –kana- is used with infinitives and occurs word-internally. The analysis has been conducted from a phonological, morphological and syntactic point of views within the theoretical framework of Descriptive linguistics (structuralism) and ‘Principles and Parameters’. These frameworks have helped in the analysis and discussion of the form, function and position of negation morphemes using the qualitative approach. Keywords: Grammar, Negation, pre-prefix, root, functional morpheme, mood, verb, aspect, tense