This section provides a description of the morphology of nouns, noun phrases, and nominal syntax in Western Sisaala. It also contains a brief description of noun classes in Sisaala. Please note that this is a preliminary description and more investigation is needed to document existing noun classes in Western Sisaala, as well as other Sisaala languages.
A noun phrase in Western Sisaala is composed of a free morpheme and optional inflectional bound morphemes. Plurality is marked by singular and plural suffix pairs, which belong to a particular noun class. Western Sisaala marks possession with enclitics, which include syllabic nasals.
In Western Sisaala noun phrases are left-headed. The left-most constituent is the head noun and adjectives, determiners, and quantifiers succeed it in the phrase. Adjectives are postpositions, and a limited set must take an inflectional plural suffix according to noun class formation rules. Determiners and quantifiers do not inflect for plurality. Numerals may be complex noun compounds and they appear as the right-most element in a nouns phrase.
Noun classes are a well-known grammatical feature of Niger-Congo languages. Historically, noun class systems are semantically based, and have usually undergone grammaticalization in varying degrees. Noun class systems typically use classifiers across many semantic oppositions, including: humans, animals, plant life, terms for the body, inanimate objects, shapes, functional objects and materials.
Noun classes in Western Sisaala are divided into classes by their singular and plural suffixes. Their semantic domains today are unclear and overlap can be seen within each class. Also, surface phonetic variations appear within many classes, and the null marker is present as the singular suffix in a few cases.
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