The morphological evolution of the -ile suffix across bantu languages in the Nyasa-Tanganyika corridor

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This paper describes the morphological evolution of -ile suffix across four Bantu languages selected from the Nyasa-Tanganyika corridor. The suffix -ile which is traditionally an aspect (perfective) marker is changing and becoming amenable to different roles across Bantu languages. This poses a challenge in specifying its roles as a tense and/or an aspect marker unless attention is paid to an individual language. The findings presented in this paper indicate that in the languages under study, the suffix -ile functions as both a tense and an aspect marker. It co-occurs with pre-root formatives to mark different past tenses. In Nyakyusa, in particular, the suffix marks different categories of aspect, namely anterior, non-progressive and indefinite conditional aspect. However, in Ndali, Malila and Nyiha, the suffix -ile marks only the non-progressive aspect. In this view, this paper concludes that the -ile suffix is gradually vanishing in the forms for aspect meanwhile it extends its roles into marking different tense categories


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-ile suffix, Nyasa-Tanganyika corridor, Morphological evolution, Tense, Aspect