Grammatical and Lexical Comparison of the Greater Ruvu Bantu Languages
Journal article, 2013

This article discusses lexical and grammatical comparison and sub-grouping in a set of closely related Bantu language varieties in the Morogoro region, Tanzania. The Greater Ruvu Bantu language varieties include Kagulu [G12], Zigua [G31], Kwere [G32], Zalamo [G33], Nguu [G34], Luguru [G35], Kami [G36] and Kutu [G37]. The comparison is based on 27 morphophonological and morphosyntactic parameters, a lexicon of 500 items and the speakers’ self-assessment of linguistic similarity. In order to determine the relationships and boundaries between the varieties, grammatical phenomena constitute a valuable complement to counting the number of identical words or cognates. We have used automated cognate judgment methods, as well as manual cognate judgments based on older sources, in order to compare lexical data. Finally, we have included speaker attitudes (i.e. self- assessment) in an attempt to map whether the languages that are perceived by speakers as being linguistically similar really are closely related.

morphosyntactic comparison

automated cognate judgement


Bantu languages

lexical comparison


Malin Petzell

University of Gothenburg

Harald Hammarström

Nordic Journal of African Studies

1459-9465 (eISSN)

Vol. 22 3 129-157

Subject Categories

Language Technology (Computational Linguistics)

General Language Studies and Linguistics

Specific Languages

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