Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 10 00:20:42 UTC 2008

On Sun, Mar 9, 2008 at 4:33 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>

> One I've always liked, although it involves venturing outside
> English, is the Swahili word for 'book', _kitabu_, a borrowing from
> Arabic, although I suppose the final vowel is epenthetic.  Anyway, if
> you ignore that, it's a good candidate for the category because the
> ki- has been clearly reanalyzed as the singular form of the ki-/vi-
> noun class (typically inhabited by inanimate objects of precisely the
> kind exemplified by books), with -tabu understood as the stem.  How
> can we tell there's been a reanalysis?  The plural form is _vitabu_
> 'books', which is definitely not Arabic.

Nice. But I wonder whether that -u is strictly epenthetic.  There's a form
_kitabun_  (indefinite? 'a book'?). I don't know Arabic, so I ask those
listies who do, how plausible it is that Swa. _kitabu_ was borrowed not just
from _kitab_ but from _kitabun_, or from some other Ar. form with -u.

Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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