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1. Introduction  

Bantu languages characteristically have rich morphological paradigms, most notably an extensive system of noun classes (NC). NC markings are found on categories such as nouns, adjectives, demonstratives, relative pronouns, and verbs. The heterogeneity of surface environments is mirrored by a multitude of treatments in the literature. Among other proposals, NC markers are treated as agreement, pronouns, determiners, and as categories with ambiguous characteristics[1]. The relevant literature usually concentrates on class marking on a particular category, and the proposals are not necessarily transferable from one categorial domain to another.

            In this paper, I argue that class markers are manifestations of the same underlying feature cluster in all surface environments. Furthermore, the local structural configuration containing class markers is exactly the same whether the class marker occurs on N, A, or V. Thus, I provide a unified account of morpho-syntactic phenomena that have so far been treated as instances of categorial ambiguity  and/or multiple lexical entries.

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[1]               cf. Bresnan/Mchombo 1987: Chichewa.