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Share Paper 2149

Plant Names in the Tanzanian Bantu Language Vidunda: Structure and (Some) Etymology
Karsten Legère
217-228 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The paper summarizes results of research in names of wild plants in the Vidunda language (G 38, autonym: Chividunda) spoken by approx. 10,000 people in the Morogoro Region, Kilosa District (mainly Vidunda Ward) of Tanzania. In the course of a three year field study about 600 plant names (and plant specimens for botanical identification) were collected. As nouns these plant names display the structure NCP (noun class prefix) plus NS (noun stem), which is typical for Bantu languages. The noun class allocation is in particular interesting for the quite unique class 5(a) - 4 pairing ([l]i-, mi-) which is relevant for approximately 88 percent of the nouns. The plant names are divided into simple (non-derived) and complex (derived) lexemes. There is frequent similarity to Swahili or (more generally) to Bantu (Proto-Bantu) stems. Complex lexemes consist of compounds and the combination head noun plus adnominal modifier. The former are mainly a verb-noun combination as well as a reduplicated stem or a reduplicated syllable. The latter consist of a simple or complex lexeme that is followed by another noun or an adjective. The paper focuses also on the conceptual source of adnominal modifiers. Conceptualization is further illustrated by plant names which reflect plant use or function, habitat, behavior, or morphology.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Linguistic Theory and African Language Documentation
edited by Masangu Matondo, Fiona Mc Laughlin, and Eric Potsdam
Table of contents
Printed edition: $280.00