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Journal of African Languages and Linguistics

Ed. by Ameka, Felix K. / Amha, Azeb

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Nasal harmony in Ikwere, a language with no phonemic nasal consonants

G. N. Clements / Sylvester Osu

Citation Information: Journal of African Languages and Linguistics. Volume 26, Issue 2, Pages 165–200, ISSN (Online) 1613-3811, ISSN (Print) 0167-6164, DOI: 10.1515/jall.2005.26.2.165, December 2005

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This paper presents a descriptive study of nasals and nasal harmony in Ikwere, an Igboid language of Nigeria. In the variety studied here, nasality is surface-contrastive in vowels but not in consonants. Nasality has the status of a morpheme-level feature which is either present or absent in each morpheme (root or affix). If present, it is predictably distributed across nonobstruent sounds by a system of nasal harmony which operates within the domain of the simple word, spreading nasality bidirectionally until blocked by an obstruent. The class of nasalizing sounds includes the nonexplosive stops and ’ḅ , confirming results of an earlier study showing these sounds to be nonobstruents (Clements and Osu 2002). The analysis brings to light some of the basic typological parameters that characterize nasal harmony in Ikwere, as well as an idiosyncratic restriction to the “phonological root”, a domain which excludes initial syllables in noun roots that are homophonous with prefixes in other words. The paper concludes with a summary and discussion of implications for the feature analysis and typology of stops.

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