The Subjunctive Mood in Giryama and Tanzanian Nyanja

  • Nancy Jumwa Ngowa Pwani University
  • Deo S. Ngonyani Michigan State University
Keywords: subjunctive, Giryama, Tanzanian Nyanja, irrealis, prototype approach


This paper presents a study of the Subjunctive in the Bantu languages of Giryama in Kenya (E72a) and Nyanja in Tanzania (N201), and explores its distribution in the two languages. As in other Bantu languages, the Subjunctive is a morphological feature characterized by a verbal suffix -e, an obligatory subject marker, and the absence of tense. Syntactically, the Subjunctive appears in independent clauses, as well as dependent clauses with a certain class of predicates and adverbial subordinators. Independent clauses that may carry the Subjunctive are those that express exhortations or suggestions, and sentences marked with the future tense. Dependent clauses with Subjunctive verbs include: (a) complement clauses containing directive, volitional, and causative verbs, and (b) adverbial clauses such as clauses of purpose. Studies of the subjunctive have often associated its semantic distribution with irrealis, in contrast with the Indicative, which is associated with realis or assertion. We present evidence showing that the irrealis reading may sometimes appear to be absent. We argue that irrealis may not be a necessary and sufficient condition for the Subjunctive. However, the onstructions that give irrealis readings provide the best exemplars of Subjunctives in these two languages. Independent clause Subjunctives are shown to be clearly non-factive. Matrix verbs that take subjunctive complements are described as presupposition triggers of events that are non-factive relative to the matrix event.

How to Cite
Ngowa, N. J., & Ngonyani, D. S. (2020). The Subjunctive Mood in Giryama and Tanzanian Nyanja. Studia Orientalia Electronica, 8(3), 99-118.