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This page pertains to UD version 2.

NounClass: noun class

Values: Bantu1 Bantu2 Bantu3 Bantu4 Bantu5 Bantu6 Bantu7 Bantu8 Bantu9 Bantu10
Bantu11 Bantu12 Bantu13 Bantu14 Bantu15 Bantu16 Bantu17 Bantu18 Bantu19 Bantu20

NounClass is similar to Gender and Animacy because it is to a large part a lexical category of nouns and other parts of speech inflect for it to show agreement (pronouns, adjectives, determiners, numerals, verbs).

The distinction between gender and noun class is not sharp and is partially conditioned by the traditional terminology of a given language family. In general, the feature is called gender if the number of possible values is relatively low (typically 2-4) and the partition correlates with sex of people and animals. In language families where the number of categories is high (10-20), the feature is usually called noun class. No language family uses both the features.

In Bantu languages, the noun class also encodes Number; therefore it is a lexical-inflectional feature of nouns. The words should be annotated with the Number feature in addition to NounClass, despite the fact that people who know Bantu could infer the number from the noun class. The lemma of the noun should be its singular form.

The set of values of this feature is specific for a language family or group. Within the group, it is possible to identify classes that have similar meaning across languages (although some classes may have merged or disappeared in some languages in the group). The value of the NounClass feature consists of a short identifier of the language group (e.g., Bantu), and the number of the class (there is a standardized class numbering system accepted by scholars of the various Bantu languages; similar numbering systems should be created for the other families that have noun classes).

Bantu1: singular, persons

The corresponding plural class is Bantu2.


List of noun classes in Swahili

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noun_class)

Class number Prefix Typical meaning
1 m-, mw-, mu- singular: persons
2 wa-, w- plural: persons (a plural counterpart of class 1)
3 m-, mw-, mu- singular: plants
4 mi-, my- plural: plants (a plural counterpart of class 3)
5 ji-, j-, Ø- singular: fruits
6 ma-, m- plural: fruits (a plural counterpart of class 5, 9, 11, seldom 1)
7 ki-, ch- singular: things
8 vi-, vy- plural: things (a plural counterpart of class 7)
9 n-, ny-, m-, Ø- singular: animals, things
10 n-, ny-, m-, Ø- plural: animals, things (a plural counterpart of class 9 and 11)
11 u-, w-, uw- singular: no clear semantics
15 ku-, kw- verbal nouns
16 pa- locative meanings: close to something
17 ku- indefinite locative or directive meaning
18 mu-, m- locative meanings: inside something

NounClass in other languages: [u]