PDF version: 08ts507c-rowbory-relative-clauses-kikamba
Relative Clauses in Kikamba
David Rowbory • 20 June 2008
Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology: Advanced Morphology & Syntax
Kikamba is classified by Guthrie (1948) as Bantu language E55, related quite closely to Kikuyu. See Rowbory (2008) for more detail. Here we study morphological operations used in Kikamba to relativise nominals so as to produce a multi-clause (multi-predicate) sentence. The study has been somewhat hindered by many writers (whether casual writers, or in books such as Mbiti 1966) neglecting to use the full orthographic means to distinguish tone and some vowels. So, what should be written ĩ representing IPA [e] is often not distinguished from i (IPA [i]), though there is a definite phonological difference. The situation is similar with u / ũ (IPA [o]). The standard word order is SVO.
We began this study not with elicitation but by examining some texts from transcribed speech and translated stories and it became clear that Kikamba makes frequent use of restrictive relative clauses. However we found no unambiguous evidence of non-restrictive relatives, which merely comment on a noun phrase rather than delineating its reference. So for this paper we narrow our focus to treat only restrictive relative clauses, following Andrews (2006:207) who considers non-restrictive relatives to behave somewhat differently to relative clauses. Although Andrews considers questions and adverbial clauses to fall outside the scope of a typology of relative clauses, we touch on these briefly here since they seem to be related to relative clauses in Kikamba.
We explore the most common and obvious relativising strategy, the situations in which it may be used, and other relativisation strategies. We examine the grammatical categories (subject, direct object, oblique, indirect object etc) which may be relativised, and briefly mention the use of relative clauses in questions and the related use of headless relative clauses.
Natural texts were sourced from Mbiti (1966) and an interview with an elderly man recorded and conducted by a fellow student Michael Mwaka. Subsequent clarification, translation and elicitation was carried out with the help of Michael and our house help.