Mabadiliko ya Maana za Leksia za Kiswahili: Mtazamo Linganishi wa Kikale na Kisasa
Gichuru, Tirus Mutwiri
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The purpose of this study was to investigate semantic changes in Kiswahili lexemes by comparing the pre-20th century Swahili and the modern Swahili from selected texts. The study identified lexemes that have undergone meaning change and then investigated the factors that had influenced the direction of change, the semantic relationship between the new and the old form of meaning and further, the general impact of semantic change on Swahili lexicon. The study was guided by the Cognitive Semantic theory, as the main theory, and the Semantic field theory which was needed in explaining internal relationships between words. The tenets of Cognitive Semantic theory employed in this study were derived from the works of Lakoff (1987); Taylor (1999); Lee (2001); Croft na Cruse (2004); Vyvyan n.w. (2006) and Lemmens (2017). The main tenet of Cognitive Semantic is that linguistic cognition is an inextricable phenomenon of overall human cognition. Cognitive Semantic describes the meaning associated with a lexical item as conceptual, embodied, dynamic and essentially encyclopedic. Thus lexical units cannot be understood independent of larger knowledge structure. The Semantic field Theory, developed by Jost Trier in 1931, emphasizes that words should not be considered in isolation, but in their relationship to semantically related words. Words are set in areas or fields within which words interrelate and define each other. The data for this research was collected from selected pre-20th century Swahili texts such as Utenzi wa Hamziyya (1652) and Al Inkishafi (1749) and Krapf (1882), and from the field by conducting interviews and by administering questionnaires. The study concludes that there is a high frequency of lexemes that has undergone semantic changes during the period studied. The study found that meaning extension and metaphor are the most productive type of meaning change during the period studied. The study found that change of meaning of Swahili lexemes is grounded on our physical and social experiences which arises and is tied to how we construe different structures in the society. In fact, the study found that the historic evidence derived from socio-political, economic, technology and language development accounts for most observable changes in Swahili lexicon. The study also found that semantic changes have a direct impact on Swahili lexicon and day to day language use. For instance, they lead to polysemy which causes lexical ambiguity and growth of metaphoric form of language. Other lexemes have become vague or obsolete. The results of this research therefore, will contribute to the study of phenomena of change in Swahili lexicon, dictionaries development and comparative linguistics.