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Strong Accent Constituents in CiTonga (Bantu): Universal Guidelines and Constraints: Universal Guidelines and Constraints
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Language and Literature.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation examines word-prosody of ciTonga, a Malawian Bantu language spoken by lakeshore people of northern Malawi. It is argued that the real word-prosody in this language (and perhaps many Bantu languages) revolves around the idea of Strong Accent Constituency, power relations between segments, syllables and between lower and higher prosodic categories as determined by Universal Guidelines such as SONORITY, FINALITY, EDGENESS and PROSODIC HIERARCHY as well as constraints which favour language- or context-specific Strong Accent Constituents (PROSODIC STEM, ACCENT FOOT, STEM-SYLLABLE1, PENULTIMATE SYLLABLE or FINAL SYLLABLE). Tone and prosodic morphemes such as Minimal Prosodic Words and Reduplicative Prosodic Morphemes also seem to be heavily regulated by Strong Accent Constituency. The empirical bases are three speech styles found in ciTonga (Nkhata-Bay Variety) namely, formal, common, and elderly speech styles. It is one of several understudied and endangered languages in Malawi. This study therefore is in line with one of the goals of the University of Malawi's Centre for Language Studies, where this candidate serves as a member, which is to prioritize research activities on such languages. The candidate is a native speaker of ciTonga and , as such, he is primary source of most of the data. Other methods such as elicitation and focus group discussions were conducted with informants not only to get to the bottom of the matter, but to also understand social issues underlying language variation.

The dissertation has been presented in 6 chapters. Chapter 1 presents introductory remarks. These include the problem statement, a note on methodology, summary of findings, theoretical precedents, and, finally, organization of the dissertation. Chapter 2 presents basic facts about the language under study. These include language classification, previous works on ciTonga, speech sounds, the syllable, tone, as well as nominal and verbal morphology.

Chapter 3 presents a proposal for the theory of Strong Accent Constituency. It presents the data on vowel and consonant deletion which motivates this theory analysis. Then attempts are made to account for the facts in terms of stress-accent theory and Downing's (2006b) Morpheme-Based Templates Theory both of which are found to be slightly problematic to account for segment deletion and preservation patterns exhibited in ciTonga. Finally, the chapter introduces the theory and accounts for the facts in terms of Strong Accent Constituent Theory.

Chapter 4 presents formally the theory of Interaction between Tone and Strong Accent Constituents. The chapter presents the data on tone assignment in basic verbs, simple past tense verbs and present progressive aspect verbs which motivate this type of theory analysis. Attempts are then made to account for the facts in terms of tone alignment theory (as argued by Mtenje 2006), autosegmental accent (Clements and Goldsmith 1984) and 'pitch-accent' or accentual properties of tone in Bantu languages (as hinted upon by Downing 2004). All these theoretical perspectives are found to be slightly inadequate to account for tone distribution patterns in ciTonga. On the other hand, a theory based on Interaction between Tone and Strong Accent Constituents is shown to account for the facts slightly better.

Chapter 5 presents formally proposals for Strong Accent Constituent-Based Templates as a theory of morphology-prosody interfaces in ciTonga and perhaps many other Bantu languages with a Strong Accent Constituent system. It presents the data on general phonological words, Minimal Prosodic Words and Reduplicative Prosodic Morphemes. It then reviews two competing theories in the literature within the Generalized Templates Theory namely, the Prosodic Hierarchy-Based Templates Theory and the Morpheme-Based Templates Theory both of which have a goal to account for morphology-prosody interfaces. Both these theories are shown to be slightly inadequate to account for parameters exhibited by phonological words in ciTonga. On the other hand, it is suggested that a theory of Strong Accent Constituent-Based Templates may account for the facts slightly better.

Chapter 6 summarizes and concludes the dissertation. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trondheim, NTNU: NTNU-trykk , 2014. , 210 p.
Doctoral Theses at NTNU, ISSN 1503-8181 ; 2014:11
Keyword [en]
Prosody, Bantu languages, Strong Accent Constituents
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:no:ntnu:diva-24516ISBN: 978-82-471-4931-7ISBN: 978-82-471-4930-0 (printed ver.)OAI: diva2:713346
Public defence
2014-05-09, Auditorium D3, NTNU, Dragvoll, Trondheim, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2014-05-09 Created: 2014-04-22 Last updated: 2014-05-09Bibliographically approved

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