Bevis examined a specific set of sentence constructions known as ellipsis constructions. ‘Ellipsis constructions are well studied in English and several other languages, but they remain seriously under researched in other languages. My work involved comparing which of the various ellipsis constructions which are found in English and other languages are also found in isiZulu,’ he explained.
His findings highlight both how similar isiZulu is to other languages around the world and how unique it is. He hopes that his research will stimulate interest in further theoretical study of isiZulu which could yield a number of new insights into language.
‘As linguists, we view language as a unique human trait and therefore a part of what makes us human. As my work sheds light on isiZulu and language in general, in a small way it helps us to understand a key part of what makes us human,’ he added.
During his studies, Bevis was able to present at two conferences. ‘My findings are interesting because they are the first for isiZulu in this area of syntax and show that isiZulu differs from other African languages in unexpected ways and that it has unexpected similarities to English in some ellipsis constructions.’
He thanked his mother Aileen (former UKZN staff member), his family, friends and supervisor Professor Jochen Zeller for their support and guidance.
Bevis plans to pursue a PhD in the field of linguistics.