Journal of the Language Association of Eastern Africa


The structure of the noun phrase (NP) is demonstrated to differ among languages. Albeit studies that paid attention on Southern Cushitic languages in general and Iraqw in particular, their contribution is selective to the general grammar of the language while the structure of the NP is scarcely described. This study contributes to the description of the language through an empirical explanation of the elements and the morphosyntactic properties of the NP in the language. It describes the orders of the elements, their co-occurrence, and constraints to illuminate the structure of the NP of the language. It draws on the data collected through elicitation and text collection. The qualitative analysis of the data obtained revealed that Iraqw NP demonstrates four different peculiar characteristics (i) the Iraqw NP is constituted of the head noun with or without dependents. The dependents of the NP are possessives, demonstratives, indefinite markers, the distributive determiner, adjectives, quantifiers, numerals, genitive constructions, and relative clauses. The dependents follow the head noun, except the distributive determiner, which precedes the head noun. (ii) The attested order of the dependents is N>[Poss>Dem/Indef]>[Gen>Adj>Num/Quant]>[Rel]. (iii) Possessive, demonstrative, and indefinite markers are non-lexical words that occur immediately after the head noun. (iv) In spontaneous speech, the NP with up to three dependents is preferred.