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Prof. Al Mtenje (University of Malawi)

The question of how much morphology can account for surface phonological alternations, including tone, has been a subject of debate in the linguistics literature for a long time (cf. Nurse 2008, Odden, to appear). In some Bantu languages, especially in tensed constructions, a wide range of tonal patterns appear to be associated with specific tenses. A number of theoretical approaches have been advanced to account for this phenomenon, ranging from those which attribute these alternations to phonological factors to those that recognize the role of morphology as a determining element of the phonological variations (cf. Kanerva 1990, Hyman & Mtenje 1999, Mtenje A.D. 1986, Odden, to appear, Odden & Bickmore 2014).

This paper considers tonal realizations from the Bantu languages Chichewa, Ciyawo and the dialect cluster of Cisukwa, Cindali and Cilambya (referred to as SuNdaLa by Mtenje, A.A. 2016) which appear to be influenced by specific morphological environments and argues that a purely phonological account does not provide a coherent account of the phenomena. It is proposed that reference to morphological categorization is the most appropriate alternative.

Hyman, Larry M. & Al Mtenje. 1999b. Prosodic Morphology and tone: the case of Chichewa. In: René Kager, Harry van der Hulst and Wim Zonneveld, (eds.). The Prosody-Morphology Interface. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 90-133. Kanerva, Jonni. 1990. Focus and Phrasing in Chicheŵa Phonology. New York: Garland Publishing.
Mtenje, A. A. 2016. A comparative analysis of the Phonology and Morpho-syntax of Cisukwa, Cindali and Cilambya. PhD Dissertation. University of Cape Town.
Mtenje, A.D, 1986. Issues in the Non-linear Phonology of Chichewa. PhD Dissertation. University of London.
Nurse, Derek. 2008. Tense and Aspect in Bantu. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Odden, David. (to appear). Bantu Phonology. Oxford Linguistics Handbooks online. Odden, David & Lee Bickmore. 2014. Melodic tone in Bantu: Overview. Africana Linguistica XX, 3-13.

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