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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shona morphophonemics : repair strategies in Karanga and Zezuru Mudzingwa, Calisto


This thesis investigates how Shona, an African language spoken in Zimbabwe deals with potentially onsetless syllables (heterosyllabic VV sequences & initial onsetless syllables) and subminimal words. The thesis focuses on the morphophonemics of Karanga and Zezuru—the two principal dialects of Shona. Karanga and Zezuru morphophonemic processes observed in this thesis have only one primary goal; to achieve the typical or preferred Shona phonological structures—the consonant-vowel (CV) syllable and the disyllabic Prosodic Word. Often, when morphemes are concatenated, the resultant phonological structures do not conform to these typical structures. The study examines the repair strategies that Karanga and Zezuru employ to achieve the CV syllable and the disyllabic Prosodic Word. The overall analysis is couched in Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky (2004 [1993]. Hiatus resolution strategies are conditioned by prosodic domains/boundaries, and a detailed prosodic parsing is required to account for this phenomenon. The Prosodic Stem, Prosodic Word and the Clitic Group are the prosodic domains relevant for this study. Owing to the impossibility of unifying the cliticization and coalescence facts with the other strategies in a single constraint ranking, two strata are posited—the Word (lexical) and the Phrasal (Postlexical) using the Lexical Phonology and Morphology-Optimality Theory (Kiparsky 2000, 2003). At the Word level, Glide formation is the default strategy, and at the Phrasal level, it is coalescence. Employing the Clements and Hume (1995) Unified Feature Geometry model, with the addition of the feature [pharyngeal], all the hiatus-breakers [j w ʔ ɦ] are analyzed as products of spreading. Karanga and Zezuru display greater variation with respect to prosodic minimality and initial onsetless syllables than in hiatus resolution. It is argued that Zezuru enforces WORD MINIMALITY at the expense of ONSET, and Karanga enforces ONSET at the expense of WORD MINIMALITY. Karanga displays internal variation; it allows initial onsetless syllables in function words but not in lexical ones. Based on tone, reduplication, minimality and cliticization, initial onsetless syllables are argued to be morified, syllabified and not extra-prosodic and therefore do not warrant any special representation.

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