Topics in Runyankore Phonology (+Grammatical Aspects)
Author: Robert E. Poletto
Publisher: The Ohio State University
Publication date: 1998
Number of pages: 399
Format / Quality: pdf-excellent quality
This dissertation examines several issues in the phonology and morphology of the Bantu language Runyankore. While this language has been studied in the past, to date there has been no extensive discussion of the tonal patterns, reduplication, or the syntax-phonology interface. Along with a descriptive account of these aspects of the language, this dissertation also seeks to examine the role of Optimality Theory in a grammatical analysis of the language. The verbal system of Runyankore contains a number of different types of tonal patterns. These are described and analyzed from an Optimality Theoretic perspective. Ultimately, two major categories of tone pattern emerge: lexical and melodic. The lexical tone patterns contain high tones that are associated with some segmental morpheme. On the other hand, the melodic tone patterns contain a high tone that is morphologically associated with the tense/aspect and with no specific segmental morpheme. We find that in order to describe adequately these patterns the notion of constraint must be extended to include macroconstraints, which comprise two or more constraints that are joined in a Boolean relationship. These constraints are associated with specific tense/aspect and outrank those constraints responsible for the more general lexical tone patterns. In fact, the linking of the macroconstraints with particular patterns indicates a close relationship between constraint conjunction and morphology.
Reduplication in Runyankore exhibits the familiar pattern found in many Bantu languages. However, there are two very interesting features of Runyankore reduplication that have special theoretical interest. First, very short verbs in Runyankore cannot undergo reduplication because they do not contain enough segmental material to create a well-formed reduplicant. This is explained by reference to the possibility that a null parse is a possible candidate as an output from GEN. Secondly, we find a number of morphologically conditioned consonant mutations in Runyankore. There is an asymmetry between their appearance in the reduplicant and the base of reduplication. This is an indication that similarity to the input outranks the constraints on similarity with the output.