The Phonology of Two Central Chadic Languages

Smith, Tony and Richard Gravina

These two phonologies of the Chadic languages Muyang and Mbuko present typologically unusual data, the bulk of which is found in the vowel systems. Prosodies of labialization and palatalization can span entire words, affecting both vowels and consonants. Morphemes are of three types: neutral, labialized, and palatalized. At a deep level, these languages have only one or two basic vowels; all other vowel qualities result from the interplay of other factors. The labialization and palatalization prosodies do not operate identically, but may co-occur in Muyang, and possibly in Mbuko.

The consonantal and tonal systems also have points of interest. Both Muyang and Mbuko have lateral fricatives, implosive stops and prenasalized voiced stops. Both have three tone levels but no contour tones or downstep. Voiced obstruents and voiced fricatives in Muyang and Mbuko are tonal depressors.

These phonologies are written in a broadly generative rule-based framework, but theorists from various persuasions will find much of interest, including Muyang labialization patterns related to adjacency and consonant/prosody/vowel interactions, Mbuko tones and adjacency, and a Muyang [+cor] autosegment causative morpheme.

The works in this volume are the result of years of intensive contact with the speakers of Muyang and Mbuko by the authors.

About the Authors

Tony Smith received a B.A. in Classics from Cambridge University, and a Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from Cambridge in 1982. After additional training in linguistics, he has been working with the Muyang under the auspices of SIL International in Cameroon since 1997.

Richard Gravina received a B.A. in Mathematics from Cambridge University and an MA in Linguistics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2002. He has been working with the Mbuko since 1997, and is a linguistics consultant with SIL International in Cameroon. He has taught Lexicography in the UK.

Table of Contents:

Introduction by Michael C. Cahill
List of Symbols and Abbreviations

Part 1 The Phonology of Muyang by Tony Smith

  1. Introduction
  2. 1.1 Location and Population
    1.2 Classification
    1.3 Previous Research
    1.4 The Present Research

  3. Basic Phonology
  4. 2.0 Introductory Comments
    2.1 Consonants
    2.1.1 Consonant phonemes
    2.1.2 Evidence of contrast
    2.1.3 Interpretation of polysegmental phonemes
    2.1.4 Realisation and distribution patterns of consonant phonemes
    2.1.5 Consonants and tone
    2.2 Vowels
    2.2.1 The basic vowel
    2.2.2 Phonetic schwa and its prosodic variants
    2.2.3 Overview of Muyang surface vocalisation
    2.3 Prosodies
    2.3.1 Palatalisation
    2.3.2 Labialisation
    2.3.3 Palatalisation and labialisation combined
    2.3.4 The labialisation prosody and labialised consonants
    2.3.5 Vowel height under prosody
    2.4 Tone: General Features
    2.4.1 Surface tone
    2.4.2 Underlying tone?
    2.5 Stress
    2.5.1 Stress in the speech string
    2.5.2 Stress and tone in the noun

  5. Morphophonology
  6. 3.0 Grammatical Categories in Muyang
    3.1 Nouns
    3.1.1 Structure of noun roots
    3.1.2 Modification of basic noun roots
    3.1.3 Compounding
    3.1.4 Tone on the noun
    3.2 Verbs
    3.2.1 Structure of verb roots
    3.2.2 Verb morphology
    3.2.3 Tone on the verb

  7. Phrase-Level Phonology
  8. 4.1 Prosody Spread
    4.2.1 General features
    4.2.2 Modification of the associative marker
    4.3 Tone at Phrase Level
    4.3.1 General features
    4.3.2 Tone raising at phrase level
    4.3.3 The tone of peripositional expressions
    4.3.4 The tone of the negative markers

    Part 1 Conclusion

    Part 2 The Phonology of Mbuko by Richard Gravina

  9. Introduction
  10. 5.1 The Mbuko People
    5.2 Language Classification
    5.3 Research Work
    5.4 Grammar Overview
    5.5 Levels of Representation

  11. The Syllable
  12. 6.1 Syllable Type V
    6.2 Syllable Type CV
    6.3 Syllable Type CVC
    6.4 Phonetically Long Vowels
    6.5 Syllable Type VC
    6.7 Syllable Patterns in Words

  13. Contrastive Units
  14. 7.1 Introduction to Prosody
    7.2 Consonants
    7.2.1 Distribution
    7.2.2 Description of phonemes
    7.2.3 The laminal consonants
    7.2.4 Evidence of contrast
    7.3 Vowels and Prosodies
    7.3.1 Presentation of vowel phonemes
    7.3.2 Conditioning factors
    7.3.3 Derivation of the representation when prosodies are applied
    7.3.4 Derivation of surface forms
    7.3.5 Compound words
    7.3.6 Front rounded vowels
    7.3.7 Definition of features
    7.3.8 Vowel neutralisation issues

  15. The Phonology of the Word
  16. 8.1 Monomorphemic Words
    8.1.1 Input
    8.1.2 Vowel position rules
    8.1.3 Closed syllable rule
    8.1.4 Schwa deletion
    8.1.5 Pause vowel rule
    8.1.6 Optional vowel contraction rule
    8.1.7 Application of prosodies
    8.1.8 Sample derivations
    8.2 Words Formed by Reduplication
    8.2.1 Complete reduplication
    8.2.2 Partial reduplication
    8.3 Compound Words
    8.4 Morphophonemics
    8.4.1 Basic morphology
    8.4.2 Elision
    8.4.3 Scope of prosodies
    8.5 Post-Lexical Alternations
    8.5.1 /n/
    8.5.2 Laminal phonemes
    8.5.3 /h/
    8.5.4 /h/ deletion
    8.6 Polymorphemic Words
    8.7 The Basic Phonological Word

  17. Tone
  18. 9.1 Overview
    9.2 Evidence of Contrast
    9.3 Distribution
    9.4 Verbs
    9.4.1 Verb tone patterns
    9.4.2 High tone spread
    9.4.3 Depressor consonants
    9.5 Total Tone Lowering
    9.6 Nouns and Other Lexical Categories

  19. Phrase-Level Phonology
  20. 10.1 The Pause Phrase
    10.2 Final Vowel Lowering
    10.3 Elision
    10.4 /n/ Deletion

  21. Rhythmical Phonology
  22. 11.1 The Metrical System
    11.2 Schwa Deletion
    11.3 Variable Length Morphemes
    11.4 Verb Reduplication


xvi, 245 pages
Phonological descriptions
ISBN 13:
ISBN 10:
6 × 9 × 0.56 in
1 lb
Subject Languages: