oa Botswana Notes & Records - Children's acquisition of Bantu noun class prefixes

Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0525-5090



Children's acquisition of noun class prefixes in Bantu language (Siswati and Sesotho) has been characterised as involving a three-stage developmental progression. Children acquiring Bantu languages go through stages where the noun stems first appear without their prefixes, followed by a stage where a place-holder vowel appears in the place of the prefix, which is in turn followed by the appearance of well-formed nouns comprising prefix plus stem. This paper discusses acquisitional evidence from another Bantu language, Setswana, which appears to support this three-stage acquisitional pattern of noun class prefixes. The explanation I proffer for such a developmental pattern rests on certain principles and heuristics, which I argue, children formulate. Overall acquisitional evidence indicates that the noun prefix is acquired as part of the whole noun, but not as a separate entity that the child initially segments off from the noun stem.

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