Shona is an agglutinative language, employing both prefixes and suffixes. Nouns, verbs, and adjectives are all identifiable, as well as personal pronouns, demonstratives, positional prefixes, and various types of agreement markers. All agreement morphology in Shona is prefix al. Nouns are divisible into a number of classes, based both on the agreement morphology in the verb and on the morphology of the noun itself. Verbs: Finite Verbs The order of elements in the Shona finite verb is shown in (1). (1) (NEG) -SUBJ- (TMA) - (OBJ) -"O- (DERIV.
SUFF. ) - (PASS. ) -FV- (OBJ 2) The asterisk is a convention adopted from syntactic phrase structure rules; however, whereas there it is used to indicate that an element may appear an indefinite number of times, we use it here to indicate that we are unsure of the maximum number of TMA elements and derivational suffixes allowed in a single verb. We are also unsure how stringently the TMA elements and derivational suffixes are ordered.' FV' is a convention borrowed from Bantu ist notation. It stands for 'final vowel'. This vowel is /a/ in the positive indicative for almost all verbs.
A few verbs (/ri/ 'be', /si/ 'not be', /ti/ 'say') appear to have an intrinsic final /i/, while some others (/Nge/~/Negi/~/N fga/ [an auxiliary (perhaps a sort of copula) ], /ne/~/na/ 'have', /Ve/~/Va/ 'be') alternate between /e/ and /a/ (and sometimes /i/) in ways we do not yet understand. In the negative indicative, the final vowel for all verbs except those just mentioned is /a/, except in the present habitual, where the final vowel is /e/~/i/ (our consultant indicated that these are in free variation). See the section on the imperative for more about the final vowel. The Shona personal agreement morphemes for the subject are given in Table 1. Person Singular Plural 1 p nf d'$- t'$"O 2 p u$- mu$-3 p a@- ~ wa@- Va@-Table 1: Personal subject prefixes Our consultant indicated that /wa"O/ for the third-person singular conveys slightly more respect than /a"O/.
Respect may also be shown by using second- and third-person plural forms for singular referents. First- and second-person subject prefixes appear to have low tone underlying ly, while third-person subject prefixes have underlying high tone. Subject agreement appears to be absolutely obligatory for all Shona verbs. The personal agreement morphemes for the object are given in Table 2.
Person Singular Plural 1 p -n fdi- -ti-2 p -ku- -ku-... -i 3 p -mu- -Va-Table 2: Personal object prefixes. Note that the first-person singular and plural and the third-person plural are identical to the subject prefixes, while the rest differ. The second-person plural object marker consists of two parts, /ku/ immediately before the root and /i/ at the end of the verb, after the final vowel. The third-person singular reflexive object marker is /"O 1/2 i"O/ (there is some uncertainty as to the number, as the antecedent is syntactically plural but singular in sense in every instance we have seen of this morpheme). As with the subject prefixes, plural second- and third- person markers may be used in place of singular to convey respect.
The underlying tones on these affixes are unclear. Several representative tense, mood, and aspect morphemes are given in Table 3. Present habitual -no-Future -- Past tense "Oa " O Distant simple past -ka-Past progressive, past habitual -i-Past (precise meaning unclear) "Omf bo"O'Might, would, could' -NfgaNfgo-'Only do X' "ONfgo " Table 3: TMA The tones on these affixes are unclear. The morphemes given are used in positive verbs. The forms used in negative forms differ (see below).
The morpheme /"Oa"O/ appears in all past tense verb forms (excepting periphrastic forms), always immediately after the subject prefix, and it coalesces with the subject prefix to yield the forms in Table 4. Person Singular Plural 1 p n fda$- ta$-2 p wa$- ma$-3 p a@-/wa@- Va@-Table 4: Past tense personal subject prefixes If the subject prefix consists solely of a high vowel, the vowel becomes a glide before the past tense marker /"Oa"O/. Otherwise, the vowel of the subject prefix is elided before /"Oa"O/. When the past tense marker /"Oa"O/ appears without any other tense / mood /aspect marker, its default meaning is recent simple past (this generally means at some point earlier in the day in question).
The past tense marker /a/ may also be combined with other tense markers to form other past tenses, as in (2). (2) V"Oa@"O'@"O>fa@mob " Oa@ 3 pl-PAST-PAST. PROG. -walk-FV 'They were walking'. Negation is marked by the prefix /'ua$"O/, which is found before the subject prefix in all negative verb forms except the past habitual.
In addition, many of the tense and aspect markers seen in negative verbs are different from those in positive verbs. The markers for the present habitual, future, and distant simple past, shown in Table 3, are not used; the simple past forms are periphrastic (see below), and the future marker is /"Ozo"O/. The negative present habitual has no element in the TMA slot, but the final vowel is changed to /e/~/i/ (in free variation). The past habitual, rather than having the prefix /'ua$"O/ at the beginning, has a element /"Osa$"O/ in a TMA slot immediately following the past habitual marker /"Oi"O/, as shown in. Examples of the negative future, present habitual, and past habitual are given in (3). (3) 'ua$"Onfd'@"Ozo$"Onfzgw " Oa@ '$@ NEG-1 sg-FUT-hear-FV dog 'I will not hear the dog.' 'ua$"Onfd'@"Onfzgw"O'$ '$@ NEG-1 sg-hear-FV dog 'I do not hear the dog (habitual).' nd " Oa$"O'@"Osa$"Onfzgw " Oa@ '$@ 1 sg-PAST-PAST.
HAB. -NEG-hear-FV dog 'I didn't use to hear the dog.' We have thus far not uncovered many candidates for derivational suffixes in verbs. One of these is /"Oir"O/, probably an intensive or frequentative, as seen in /ku@pu@ku@t'@ra$/ 'to rub' (cf. /ku@pu@ku@ta$/ 'to wipe'). Another, /"Ois"O/, may be a causative, as seen in (4). (4) V"Oa@"O'@"Otf thk"O'@s"Ok " Oa$ 3 pl-PAST-PAST.
PROG. -fear-CAUS. -PASS. -FV 'They were frightened.' However, this is not the only way of forming causative constructions: compare /ta$'@$ ku@>se@ka@/, literally, 'we were caused (/ta to laugh (/ku@>se@ka@/) '.
The passive morpheme in Shona appears to be based on /"Ow"O/, though its actual manifestation varies quite widely, as shown in Table 5.