Aspects of the Morphology and Phonology of Kɔnni

Cahill, Michael C

This study combines a descriptive and theoretical presentation of Kɔnni, a Gur language of northern Ghana. It presents an Optimality Theory analysis of the entire phonological system.

The description of noun morphology includes the noun class system, the reduplicative agentive noun construction, noun-adjective complexes, and derived nouns. Verbal morphology is comprised of various aspectual suffixes. The phonological description is separate from the formal OT analysis in order to facilitate use by those with descriptive interests as well as theoretical.

The book includes major sections on consonants, vowels, and tone. It also includes a brief syntax sketch, co-occurrence restrictions, phoneme frequency counts, phonetic measurements of segment durations and vowel formants, as well as seven appendices of data. Some specific notes of interest:

  • Some phonology is limited to only certain noun classes.
  • A pervasive 9-vowel ATR vowel system is analyzed, to which dipthongization has an integral tie.
  • Some vowels assimilate only across consonants with the same place feature.
  • The existence of [H!H] on a single TBU is documented.
  • Tonal perturbations demand four different underlying representations for different nouns which all have a surface [LH].
  • True tonal polarity, distinct from dissimilation, is argued for.
  • Two cases of syntax-phonology interface occur in the vowel system.

About the Author

Michael Cahill received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from The Ohio State University in 1999. Having worked with SIL since 1982 and worked on-site with the Kɔnni-speaking people from 1986 to 1993. He was a member of the LSA’s Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation from 2001-2003, chairing it in 2003. He is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Texas at Arlington and of the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics and is currently serving as the International Linguistics Coordinator of SIL.

Table of Contents:


1. Introduction
1.1 The people and language
1.2 Sketch of syntax
1.3 Theoretical foundations and assumptions

2. Morphology
2.1 Nominal morphology
2.2 Verbal morphology
2.3 Modifiers
2.4 Concluding observation

3. Phonotactics and Syllables
3.1 Relative frequency of phonemes
3.2 Co-occurrences
3.3 Distribution of consonants and vowels
3.4 Consonant clusters
3.5 Syllable structure
3.6 Minimality of nouns and verbs

4. Consonantal Phonology
4.1 Consonant inventory, contrasts, and measurements
4.2 Assimilatory process
4.3 Deletion
4.4 Dissimilation
4.5 Epenthesis
4.6 Conclusions

5. Vocalic Phonology
5.1 Vowel inventory, contrasts, and measurements
5.2 ATR vowel harmony
5.3 Diphthongization
5.4 Vowel assimilation I
5.5 Vowel epenthesis
5.6 The agentive prefix
5.7 Vowel shortening
5.8 Epenthesis or elision? Vowels after [g]
5.9 Vowel assimilation II: Total assimilation in vowel hiatus
5.10 Summary and discussion

6. Tone
6.1 Introduction to Konni tone
6.2 Basic tonal constraints
6.3 Nominals
6.4 Verbal tone
6.5 Tone on conditionals
6.6 Yes/no question intonation
6.7 A note on stress
6.8 Concluding remarks

7. Conclusion
7.1 Data highlights
7.2 Theoretical highlights
7.3 A "complete" tableau

Appendix A
Perturbation of target nouns in tone frames

Appendix B
Nouns, plurals, and definite articles

Appendix C
Compound nouns

Appendix D
Noun-adjective complexe

Appendix E
Associative noun phrases

Appendix F
Verb aspects

Appendix G
Preverbal particles

Subject Index
Index of Constraints

Retail Price:
xviii, 517 pages
Phonological descriptions
ISBN 13:
ISBN 10:
6 × 9 × 1 in
1.9 lb
Subject Languages:
Content Language: