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Title: The noun Class System of Ut-Ma'in, a West Kainji Language of Nigeria
Authors: Paterson, Rebecca
Keywords: African Languages
Niger-Congo Languages
Atlantic-Congo Languages
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: University of North Dakota
Abstract: This present work provides a comprehensive overview of the noun class system of u t-Ma'in, a Benue-Congo (West Kainji) language of Northwestern Nigeria. The u t-Ma'in language is characterized by a complex noun classification system and a robust agreement system that permeates the language. While an understanding of the noun classes is essential to an understanding of the language as a whole, discussion includes the division of nouns into thirteen distinct classes, marked by prefixes on the nouns themselves and by agreement elements on other clause constituents. The relationship of the noun classes of u t-Ma'in to historical reconstruction work available for the noun class systems of both Proto-Benue-Congo and Proto-Kainji is explored, and the robust noun class agreement system that affects numerals, quantifiers, the associative construction, the pronoun system, the indefinite and definite articles, adjectives, and the interrogatives “which?” and “what?” is described. Of particular interest to the reader are the semantic properties that characterize the noun classes and the noun class pairings; these semantic characteristics also serve as the primary criteria for the assignment of a noun to a particular class or class pairing. Also of interest are the varied forms of the associative markers and the use of both prefixes and suffixes to mark agreement on clause constituents.
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