Original Research

Investigation of Language Impairment in Zulu

Susan M. Suzman, Busi Tshabalala
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 47, No 2 | a975 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v47i2.975 | © 2023 Susan M. Suzman, Busi Tshabalala | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 March 2023 | Published: 31 December 2000

About the author(s)

Susan M. Suzman, Department of Linguistics - Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Busi Tshabalala, Department of Linguistics - Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Abstract

Research into the nature of language impairment in African languages is just beginning (Demuth and Suzman, 1997). This paper presents findings from two case studies of Zulu children diagnosed as language-impaired. Speech samples from Sipho, 2;7 and 3;7 and Nompumelelo 5;6 were analysed for phonology, morphology, syntax and pragmatics. From these case studies, a profile of language impairment begins to emerge for Zulu. It is characterized by use of simple sentences and nonstandard verbal complexes. It reflects differential access to morphology. Children use NC and agreement morphology productively but they do not have access of subtle syntactic markers encoding semantic complexity. Infrequent use of verb extensions, participials, subjunctives and relative clause markers in Zulu contributes to reliance on simple sentences and stereotyped connectives.

Keywords

Specific Language Impairment (SLI); noun class (NC); concordial agreement; verbal complex

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