n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - Tagging an agglutinating language : a new look at word categories in the Southern African indigenous languages

Volume 37, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-5986



Traditionally, the classification of word categories (or parts of speech) in African languages has been modelled on Western European languages without taking cognisance of the fact that the European languages and the African languages belong to different language types. Moreover, the classification of word categories in the European languages has been typically based on the highly questionable classical view of categorisation in general. These historical factors have had rather adverse implications for the various word categories which have been distinguished in the African languages up to this very day. In this paper, we critically explore these issues, and propose a rather revolutionary framework for the treatment of word categorisation in African languages. This new framework, as we shall point out, has significant implications for the units to be distinguished in a tagset as well as for the tagging of corpora in these languages.

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