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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

2io                The Loom of Language
limited number of prefix-labelled classes analogous to our small word-
clusters labelled by such suffixes as -*r, ~s/?'/>, -/*;<;</, -dcmi, and -ter or
~tker m/cthei) mothct, brother, wt&9 daughter So also in Greek, many
animals have names endmg in -a, e g alopcv (fox), as/>ala& (mole),,
<tfanc (roe-deer), hyitnx (porcupine), pithcK (ape^ The analogous Ger-
man terminal ~J/i also holds together a limited group of animals, e g,
Docks (badgei)j Fucks (fox), /,<ir/w (salmon), OJ/v(o:.) Several German
names for animals have another suflix, -cr, e g /Mfcr (eagle)^ Hamster
(hamster),, Kater (tom-cat), Spcibcr (hawk) landings such as these are
isolated examples of what is a umvcisal characteristic of the Bantu
languages The names of any thing, any person, or any action is labelled
by a particular prefix which assigns it to one of about twenty classes of
woids labelled in the same way
The other outstanding peculiarity of the Bantu ftrmly is that the
noun-prefix colours the entne stiucture of the sentence. Whatever
moves within the orbit of <i noun is stamped accordingly Thus a
qualifying adjective or even a numeral earnes the prefix of the pre-
ceding noun which it qualifies, eg mn-ntu mu-lotu (man handsome
--- handsome man)* but htwttu ha-lotu (men handwnc handsome men)
The pronoun of the third pcxson lias a iorm which more or less recalls
the prefix of the noun represented by it* In the sentence u~tcde - he
(the man) is asleep* u~ rellects the mu- ot mu~ntu (man), and in lu»kde
« he (the baby) w asleep, /«- echoes the classifier ht~ of lu~wbtla (baUy),
In Swahih and many other Bantu languages, the personal pronoun is
prefixed to the verb even when the sentence has a noun-subject,
e.g. ba~ka%ana ba^cnda (the #ir/s they $0) This bindmg together of
the various parts of the sentence produces a kind of alliterative sing-
song, c,g
bu Itwu               ha hnlnmd               ba-nfu
the ttom              tlh'v bit                   the mm
The type of concord which occurs m a highly inflected Aryan lan-
guage produces an analogous but rhyming smg-song, e,g, in German,
die huhchtn amerilttmuchQft Studcntinncn machttn Sensation (the pretty
American co-eds made a hit)
The Bantu prefixes of most classes have diwnct singular and plural
forma* A singular prefix mu~ (Subiya), corresponding to a plural prefix
ba~3 signifies human agents Thus mu~$i$u means boy, and ba-sisu means
boys Another singular prefix fe- (Swahili), corresponding to the plural
prefix ttf-, is largely used for manufactured things, e g. ki~ftmihos cover>
and t&ftmiko, covers. The prefix ma** (Sotho) is characteristic of a