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Title: Formal and semantic properties of the Gújjolaay Eegimaa (a.k.a Banjal) nominal classification system
Author: Sagna, Serge
ISNI:       0000 0004 2673 1776
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2008
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Gujjolaay Eegimaa (G.E.), an Atlantic language of the Niger-Congo phylum spoken in the Basse-Casamance area in Senegal, exhibits a system of nominal classification known as a "gender/ noun class system". In this type of nominal classification system which is prevalent in Niger-Congo languages, there is controversy as to whether the obligatory classification of all nouns into a finite number of classes has semantic motivations. In addition to the disputed issue of the semantic basis of the nominal classification, the formal criteria for assigning nouns into classes are also disputed in Joola languages and in G.E. In this PhD thesis, I propose an investigation of the formal and semantic properties of the nominal classification system of Gujjolaay Eegimaa (G.E). Based on cross-linguistic and language-specific research, I propose formal criteria whose application led to the discovery of fifteen noun classes in G.E. Here, I argue that the G.E. noun class system has semantic motivations. I show that some nouns in this language may be classified or categorized on the basis of shared properties as stipulated in the classical theory of categorization. However, most of the classification of the G.E. nouns is based on prototypicality and extension of such prototypes by family resemblance, chaining process, metaphor and metonymy, as argued in the prototype theory from cognitive semantics. The parameters of categorization that fruitfully account for the semantic basis of the G.E. nominal classification system are both universal and cultural-specific. Primary data constitutes the material used in this research and include lexical (including loanwords), textual as well as experimental data using picture stimuli. The collected data comprise different types of communicative events recorded in audio and video formats and also in written format through participant observation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Nominal classification; Semantic; Cognitive Semantics; Atlantic, Niger-Congo; African languages