1. Makhuwa (Bantu language, spoken in Tanzania and Mozambique)
Examine the data in (1) to (3) in this exercise. The sentence show that the order of phrases is very free in this language. Makhuwa marks both subject and object with agreement prefixes on the verb. The applic suffix on the verb is an ‘applicative’ marker; it gives the sense of preparing porridge for someone. This construction is discussed further next week.
Each sentence contains four constituents – a subject, a verb, a direct object and an indirect object – but they appear in a different order. In fact, any of the 24 (!) possible orders of the four phrases can be used, given the right context.
Now consider complex sentences: given a subject, a verb and an embedded clause, there are six logically possible orders of these three phrases. However, only three out of the potential six orders are grammatical. The orders actually found in Makhuwa are:
• Subject-Verb-embedded clause (4),
• Verb-embedded clause-Subject (5),
• and in addition, Verb-Subject-embedded clause (This is not illustrated here, but you should be able to reconstruct it)