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Research Articles (Languages, Linguistics and Academic Literacy)

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    The development of a sustainability model for the integration and use of an African language as a language of learning and teaching in higher education.
    (University of KwaZulu-Natal., 2010) Wildsmith-Cromarty, Rosemary.
    This paper discusses the organic development of a Sustainability Model for the implementation of an African language, viz. Zulu, as a language of learning and teaching (LoLT) at tertiary level in a South African University. The model created the conceptual framework for research into and implementation of Zulu as a medium of instruction in selected subject areas at University level. The aim of this project is to promote multilingualism in higher education. It has been funded by the South Africa-Norway Tertiary Education Development (SANTED) programme. This article traces the initial development of this model, which drew on the findings of various research studies over a period of ten years, culminating in its application to the development of specialist discourse and terminology in Zulu in specific subject areas in the Social Sciences, Health Sciences and Humanities curricula. The project involved the collaboration of various subject specialists in Psychology, Nursing, Dentistry and Education (Foundation Phase level). The implementation has been two-fold: the offering of basic communication skills courses in Zulu for non-Zulu-speaking staff and students involved in the above professional disciplines, and terminology development in the respective disciplines in order to enable the use of Zulu in selected materials and tutorial groups. This SANTED-funded initiative (2006) has been a systematically-planned and deliberate intervention on the part of lecturers and researchers to introduce an African language as a potential LoLT, whilst at the same time contributing to the intellectualisation of the language in question.
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    AILA Africa Research Network Launch 2007 : research into the use of the African languages for academic purposes.
    (Cambridge University Press for British Council and National Centre for Languages., 2008) Wildsmith-Cromarty, Rosemary.
    No abstract available.
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    Universal principles and parametric variation : remarks on formal linguistics and the grammar of Zulu.
    (University of KwaZulu-Natal., 2005) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    Research on topics of an essentially African nature should be regarded as a cornerstone of learning at an African university. At the same time, this research must avoid becoming insular and parochial. The study of the indigenous languages spoken in South Africa is a good example of scholarship which has a strong local focus at the same time as having relevance for a broader academic community, with the potential to inform and shape the design of linguistic theory. In this article, I want to offer an introduction to the research conducted at the Department of Linguistics in the School of Languages, Literature and Linguistics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The exposition draws from my area of expertise: formal linguistics (more specifically, theoretical syntax), and from my area of research: the grammar of Bantu languages (more specifically, the syntax of Zulu). Formal linguistics has a somewhat anomalous status in a faculty of human and social sciences. On the one hand, linguistics is the scientific study of human language and therefore seems to have a natural place among the disciplines in the humanities. On the other hand, formal linguists do not consider language to be first and foremost a social construct, but rather regard it as a cognitive system whose properties are best understood when studied from a strictly analytical perspective. With respect to its methodology, formal linguistics has therefore more in common with mathematics or computer science than with, say, creative arts or literary studies. In the discussion that follows, I introduce some of the methods characteristic of the field of formal syntax, and show how they are applied to the study of natural languages such as English or Zulu. In section 2, I illustrate some of the main concepts of theoretical linguistics, such as the idea of language as a “mental organ”, which implies that fundamental properties of language are innate, and therefore universal. I also discuss Chomsky’s theory of generative grammar and its most contemporary version, the syntactic model known as the “Minimalist Program”. I then demonstrate in section 3 that this theoretical framework yields interesting results when used to examine the grammatical properties of a Bantu language like Zulu. Finally, section 4 shows that, in turn, the empirical properties of Zulu have wider theoretical implications for the way non-African languages are analysed in the Minimalist Program.
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    On the relation between noun prefixes and grammaticalisation in Nguni relative clauses.
    (Wiley-Blackwell., 2006) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    This paper discusses morphological and syntactic aspects of relative clauses in two related Southern Bantu language groups. In Sotho-Tswana, object relative clauses are formed by means of clause-initial relative complementisers which agree with the head noun. In contrast, object relatives in the Nguni languages are formed by means of relative concords which are attached to the relative clause predicate and express agreement with the subject. I suggest that the Nguni relative concords are the result of a grammaticalisation process in which early Nguni relative complementisers first turned into clitics and then into relative concords. On the basis of a detailed analysis of this process I further argue that the syntactic difference between Sotho-Tswana and Nguni relative clauses is correlated with a morphological difference between nouns in these languages.
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    Word-level and phrase-level prefixes in Zulu.
    (Akadémiai Kiadó., 2003) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    In Zulu, one of the nine officially recognised Bantu languages of South Africa, the predicate of a relative clause is usually modified with a prefix which expresses both relativisation and agreement with the subject of the relative clause (a so-called relative concord). However, there is a second strategy of relative clause formation in Zulu in which the relative concord seems to be prefixed to the initial noun of the relative clause. In this position, it no longer agrees with the relative clause subject, but with the head noun of the construction. This paper investigates these two different relative clause formation strategies in Zulu. In sections 2 and 3, the properties of the two strategies are outlined and discussed. I assume that the relative concord in the first strategy is a word-level prefix which morphologically combines with the predicative stem of the relative clause. I then argue in section 4 that the relative concord in the second strategy is prefixed to the relative clause as a whole. Following a proposal articulated in Anderson (1992), I analyse this kind of "phrasal affixation" in terms of cliticisation. I assume that the relative marker in these constructions is a clitic which uses the initial noun of the relative clause as its phonological host. In section 5 I suggest that the relativising phrasal affix of the second strategy represents an intermediate stage of a grammaticalisation process that derived the relative concord of the first strategy from an earlier relative clause construction in Zulu which used relative pronouns.
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    On clitic left dislocation in Zulu.
    (Rudiger Koppe Verlag., 2005) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    No abstract available.
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    Against overt particle incorporation.
    (University of Pennsylvania. Department of Linguistics. Penn Linguistics Club., 1997) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    No abstract available.
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    Derived subjects in Kinyarwanda locative constructions.
    (University of Stellenbosch. Department of General Linguistics., 2006) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    No abstract available.
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    The subject marker in Bantu as an antifocus marker.
    (University of Stellenbosch. Department of General Linguistics., 2008) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    No abstract available.
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    South African Indian English: a qualitative study of attitudes.
    (International Association for World Englishes Inc., 2010) Wiebesiek, Lisa.; Rudwick, Stephanie Inge.; Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    This paper focuses on attitudes towards South African Indian English (SAIE), an L1 variety of English spoken in South Africa. The attitudes of the participants are considered against the backdrop of the socio-political history of this variety and its speakers, and in contrast to their attitudes to what they perceive as ‘good’ English. While the research methodology is primarily based on lengthy, semi-structured interviews with twenty young South African Indians (i.e. ingroup members), the paper also includes a discussion of some of the linguistic features of SAIE, which is mainly motivated by methodological considerations. Through an examination of SAIE wh-questions, we show that the grammar of this variety differs systematically from that of the reference variety. Using examples of these wh-questions, we elicited grammatical judgments from participants and compared these judgments to the attitudes of the participants as expressed in response to open-ended questions in interviews. On the basis of the empirical data that we obtained and analysed, we argue that the young South African Indian students who participated in our study have a profoundly ambiguous attitude towards the variety associated with their own ethno-linguistic group.
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    Relative clause formation in the Bantu languages of South Africa.
    (Southern African Applied Linguistics Association & The Linguistics Society of Southern Africa., 2004) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    This article discusses (verbal) relative clauses in the Bantu languages spoken in South Africa. The first part of the article offers a comparison of the relative clause formation strategies in Sotho, Tsonga, Nguni and Venda. An interesting difference between these language groups concerns the syntactic position and the agreement properties of the relative marker. Whereas the relative markers in Sotho, Tsonga and Venda are clause-initial elements, which express agreement with the head noun, the relative markers in the Nguni languages are relative concords, which are prefixed to the verb and agree with the subject of the relative clause. The second part of the article addresses this difference and shows that there is a historical relation between these two types of relative constructions. It is argued that earlier forms of Nguni employed relative markers similar to those used in present-day Sotho and Tsonga. In Nguni, these relative markers underwent a grammaticalisation process which turned them into relative concords. A detailed analysis of the syntactic conditions for, and the properties of, this grammaticalisation process leads to a hypothesis about the reasons why relative concords have developed in Nguni, but not (to the same extent) in Tsonga, Sotho and Venda.
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    Kinyarwanda locative applicatives and the Minimal Link Condition.
    (Southern African Applied Linguistics Association & The Linguistics Society of Southern Africa., 2005) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.; Ngoboka, Jean Paul.
    The two objects of ditransitive locative applicatives in Kinyarwanda display asymmetrical behaviour with respect to syntactic movement. Whereas the applied object (the goal) of a locative can be extracted in relative clauses, become the subject of a passive and incorporate as an object marker, the theme cannot undergo any of these operations, at least not as long as the applied object remains in object position. However, once the applied object has been passivised, relativised or incorporated, the theme is also free to move. We analyse these observations on the basis of the Minimal Link Condition (MLC) (Chomsky, 1995; 2000), which excludes movement of an element α to a position K if there is another element β of the same type which is closer to K. We show that the theme cannot move in Kinyarwanda locative applicatives because the applied object is closer to the potential landing site. However, in contexts in which the applied object has been moved ‘out of the way’, the MLC no longer blocks movement of the theme. In our analysis, we discuss a number of key theoretical concepts of the Minimalist Program, such as the Extension Condition, the notion of minimal domain, and derivation by phase.
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    Raising out of finite CP in Nguni: the case of fanele.
    (Southern African Applied Linguistics Association & The Linguistics Society of Southern Africa., 2006) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    The Nguni modal verb fanele can select a finite clause in the subjunctive mood as its complement. Typically, the thematic subject of this clausal complement remains in the embedded subject position, in which case the matrix verb fanele is prefixed with the expletive marker ku-. However, in another possible construction with fanele, the thematic subject of the embedded subjunctive clause is realised in the matrix subject position and agrees with both fanele and the embedded verb. In this paper, I provide empirical evidence that the matrix subject in the latter construction originates in the embedded clause but has undergone raising (A-movement) to the matrix subject position. I then offer a theoretical discussion of this type of raising out of finite CPs based on the concept of ‘defectiveness’ and the theory of phases which underlie the analysis of raising constructions advocated in the Minimalist Program (Chomsky, 2000; 2001; 2005).
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    On the subject marker in Kinyarwanda.
    (Southern African Applied Linguistics Association & The Linguistics Society of Southern Africa., 2008) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    This article examines the morphosyntactic representation of the subject agreement marker (SM) in null subject constructions in the Bantu language Kinyarwanda. Three prominent analyses are compared. The first analysis treats the SM in null subject constructions as a pronoun which receives the subject theta role in the morphology. The second approach analyses the SM as a syntactic pronoun, i.e. as a determiner phrase (DP) which receives its theta role in [Spec, V] and then moves to [Spec, T]. The third analysis is based on the theory of pro, which assumes that the subject theta role in null subject constructions is assigned to a phonetically unrealised pronoun. According to the pro-theory, the SM is simply a reflex of agreement between the verb and the null subject pro. The paper shows that the first analysis, which treats the SM as a morphological pronoun, must be rejected for Kinyarwanda on empirical grounds. In contrast, the paper argues that both remaining alternatives represent feasible accounts. The study identifies the empirical predictions and theoretical consequences which are associated with each of these two competing alternatives.
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    Home language and English language ability in South Africa: Insights from new data.
    (Southern African Applied Linguistics Association & The Linguistics Society of Southern Africa., 2010-03-11) Posel, Dorrit Ruth.; Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    In this paper we analyse data on language ability collected in a new nationally representative household survey, the National Income Dynamics Study, which captures information on reading and writing ability, both in the individual’s home language and in English. We find that self-assessed reading and writing ability are highly correlated in the data, and that individuals typically report considerably higher ability in their home language than in English. The data suggest large racial differences in language skills, in the individual’s home language and particularly in English. Racial differences however are narrower among younger adults (aged 15 to 30 years) than among older adults. Furthermore, whereas older women are less likely than older men to report being able to read and write very well, in both their home language and in English, this is reversed among younger women and men. Finally we show that individuals who report good reading and writing ability in their home language and far more likely to report good reading and writing ability in English.
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    Object marking in isiZulu.
    (Southern African Applied Linguistics Association & The Linguistics Society of Southern Africa., 2012) Zeller, Jochen Klaus.
    I examine object marking in the Nguni language isiZulu, focusing specifically on those properties that are subject to micro-parametric variation within the Bantu family. This includes the occurrence of object markers in object relative clauses and in double object constructions, and the correlation between object marking and dislocation. I also address the extent to which my findings support either a pronoun- or an object agreement-analysis of object markers. My results provide support for the idea that object markers in isiZulu are in the process of changing from pronominal clitics into agreement markers.