Parthood and attendant part-whole relations enjoy interest in ontology authoring for various subject domains, as well as in, e.g., NLP to understand text. The list of common part-whole relations is occasionally slightly modified for languages other than English. For isiZulu, it was shown that there are not always 1:1 mappings and, moreover, dictionaries list many more translations for parthood and part-whole relations. This complicates selecting the semantically appropriate ones for localising ontologies or aligning local ontologies to other ones. It also raises the question whether the ‘common’ part-whole relations are really that common. We aim to investigate the extant part-whole relations in isiZulu and determine their ontological status. We harvested a lexicon of 81 terms from dictionaries, which was reduced to 31 through several iterations of refinement, of which 13 were formalised and aligned to well-known part-whole relations. It showed that in some cases distinctions are made—and for which words exist—that have not been included before in part-whole relations, yet in other cases it is more coarse-grained; e.g., a parthood for portions of cloth, for objects properly contained in the mouth, and for regions with a part-region that has a fiat boundary and objects located in it.
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