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ERIC Number: ED533417
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 547
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1248-0399-9
A Reference Grammar of Bena
Morrison, Michelle Elizabeth
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Rice University
This dissertation is a grammar of Rena (ISO bez), a Bantu language spoken in southwestern Tanzania by approximately 600,000 people. Bena is largely undocumented, and though aspects of Bena grammar have been described, there is no usable, detailed treatment of the Bena language. Therefore the goal of this dissertation is provide the first detailed description of Bena that discusses phonology, morphology, and syntax. The analysis described in this grammar is based on data collected in the Njombe district of Tanzania during 2008 and 2009. Data throughout the grammar is taken from both elicitation and a corpus of 23 narratives. Though Bena is spoken by over half a million people, it is threatened by Swahili (the national language of Tanzania). Swahili's prominence in Tanzania has increased drastically since independence in 1961, and many (if not most) of the approximately 120 languages spoken in Tanzania are threatened by Swahili. Bena is no exception to this. The results of a sociolinguistic survey conducted in 2009 indicate that Swahili is having a significant impact on the Bena language. Therefore the writing of this dissertation comes at a crucial time. It provides a record of Bena at a time before too many features of the language are lost due to language contact. The first chapter provides an introduction to the Bena language and people. It also discusses results from the 2009 sociolinguistic survey which had the goal of clarifying questions on both the dialectal situation and the sociolinguistic vitality of Bena. The second chapter is devoted to phonetics and phonology. Of particular interest in this chapter are Bena's "predictable" tone system and the morphophonological process of imbrication (a type of coalescence in which multiple morphemes are interwoven together). The third chapter gives an overview of Bena word classes and provides a road map of the next several chapters of the grammar. Fourth is a description of Bena nominal morphology and other elements in the noun phrase. Like other Bantu languages, Bena uses a complex noun class system; Bena's 19 noun classes and the ways in which they are used are discussed in detail in this chapter. Following this is a description of Bena verbal morphology. Of particular interest in Bena is its tense aspect system--Bena distinguishes four separate past tenses and three distinct futures; these interact with five aspects. The second major focus of Chapter 5 is the use of a series of suffixes in verbal derivation. The sixth chapter of the grammar describes adverbs and other invariable words in Bena. Chapter 7 describes major aspects of Bena syntax. Because Bantu languages have rich morphological systems, most grammars of Bantu languages either give a fairly cursory treatment of syntax or they ignore it completely. This dissertation aims to fill that gap by providing a description of a Bantu language that is more balanced and acknowledges the significant roles played by both morphology and syntax. The final chapter highlights several features of Bena from a typological perspective and discusses areas in which further research on Bena has the potential to contribute significantly to Bantu linguistics. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Tanzania