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The Phonology of Chichewa$
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Laura J. Downing and Al Mtenje

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198724742

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198724742.001.0001

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Tonal Phonology: Lexical Tone Patterns

Tonal Phonology: Lexical Tone Patterns

(p.109) 6 Tonal Phonology: Lexical Tone Patterns
The Phonology of Chichewa

Laura J. Downing

Al Mtenje

Oxford University Press

Like the vast majority of Bantu languages, Chichewa is a tone language. The chapter begins with a brief introduction to the Chichewa tone system. The lexical tone patterns for noun and verb stems are taken up next. Lexical tones do not always surface on their input sponsor syllable due to the application of tone processes such as tone doubling, tone plateauing, and final retraction. These processes, all conditioned by phrase penult lengthening, are defined and illustrated in detail in this chapter, along with the OCP-motivated process, Meeussen’s Rule. The tonal properties of clitics and clitic-like nominal modifiers are shown to motivate the process of tone shift. The phonetics of tone and the accentual properties of the Chichewa tone system are discussed in the concluding sections.

Keywords:   nominal tone, verb tone, clitics, tone doubling, tone plateauing, final retraction, tone shift, Meeussen’s Rule, phonetics of tone, accent

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