Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Some Aspects of Nko Tonal Phonology
by Diakite, Boubacar, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2018, 194; 10931503
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation offers to make new insights into certain aspects of the tonal phonology in mutually intelligible dialects of the Nko (Mande) language, namely the two major (with larger number of speakers) dialects of, Bamana and Maninka, and the two minor dialects, Jula and Mandingo. Theoretical analyses of tone assignment and tonal interaction in these languages have been diverse, often conflicting, and at times contradictory. The divergence between tonal analyses reported in the literature is likely to have arisen for a variety of reasons including dialectal variation, limited data, and limited speaker access. Among these proposed analyses are those that support the presence of specific tonal configurations considered to be marked structures in the language (Green 2010), as well as those that draw upon the proposition of multiple abstract floating tones whose spreading, deletion, and surface effects are predicted only by complex derivations (cf. Rialland & Badjime 1989). Moreover, an attempt will be made to bring together generalizations that previous analyses did not make regarding the tonal patterns of the Nko dialects. Specifically, I argue for three novel analyses: 1) that the definite marker in Nko is a Mid tone suffix, rather than an abstract Low tone suffix as analyzed in previous literature, 2) that Nko noun forms are derived from an underlying form that I refer to as ‘citation form’ which can be distinct from both the surface definite and indefinite nouns, and 3) that a final High tone is used as a marker of nouns in the major dialects of Nko (Courtenay 1974). These analyses have implications for the understanding of the tonal structure of Nko, especially with respect to the nature of lexical and grammatical tones in both the major and minor dialects. My analysis is consistent with that of other researchers in positing just two lexical tones, Low and High. The posited Mid tone to mark definiteness is a grammatical tone. Further, I agree with previous research in viewing that the surface tonal contours found in these varieties are due to the restricted tonal inventory and are not lexical tones. These result from multiple tones associating to the same syllable. Several analyses of tone in Nko dialects will be discussed and a full picture of the tonal schemas (or melodies) in the language is proposed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Davis, Stuart
Commitee: Clements, Clancy, Omar, Alwiya, de Jong, Ken
School: Indiana University
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 80/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, African Studies, Language
Keywords: Linguistics, Nko, Phonology, Tone
Publication Number: 10931503
ISBN: 978-0-438-36236-9
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