The Evolution of Na in Bantu Languages

A word translated in dictonary.

The link word na in Bantu languages has been identified as one of the forms
inherited from the ancestral language, commonly known as Proto-Bantu (Guthrie, 1971; Greenberg,1948; Meeussen, 1969). This form has been reconstructed in Proto-Bantu with the meaning of “and” and “with”. Its main
role has been recognized as to link together two syntactic units in a coordinative or associative manner.
This paper examines the two original functions of na as a marker of coordination or association of syntactic units in Bantu languages. It shows how some languages have extended its use through the process of grammaticalization to assume other functions. Thus, the paper concludes by observing that the evolution of the na form is one of the cases in which words in Bantu languages have evolved to acquire other functions (Polomé, 1977; Guthrie, 1971). However, there are also cases in which units belonging to one grammatical category change to other categories.

H.M. Batibo, Marie-Françoise Rombi