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The morphology and phonology of the nominal domain in Tagbana


Yranahan Traoré

The book investigates the morphology and phonology of the nominal domain in Tagbana of the Senufo group of Côte d’Ivoire. The nominal domain is the locus of a phenomenon called ‘alliterative concord’, a special kind of concord expressed by consonantal alliteration. All dependent morphemes of a head noun share articulatory features, which are realized on the onset of the first syllable of each morpheme. In this way, the articulatory features signal the class of the dependent morphemes. This volume also discusses the segment inventory and the syllable structure and describes the complex noun operations in the nominal domain. Distributed Morphology and Optimal Theory form the theoretical background of the empirical facts.

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3 Syllable structure and syllabification


3.1 Introduction

This chapter studies the syllable structure in Fròʔò. It shows how sounds are organized to form syllables. I assume that connected speech consists of discrete sounds organized hierarchically. Based on this view, phonemes have a physical reality and are grouped into larger entities governed by higher prosodic constituents called syllables. The syllable organizes the segments into prosodic units located in the prosodic hierarchy between the mora and the foot. Neither the mora nor the foot seem to have any role in Fròʔò, but the syllable does play an important role in the phonology of the language.5

The syllable is usually considered in traditional grammars as consisting of an obligatory nucleus preceded by one or more optional consonants (the onset) and followed by one or more optional consonants (the coda); see Fig. 3.1. It can be understood as a sequence of sounds governed by rules and principles through which languages express much of their phonology. It is important for the expression of statements of phonotactics, the principles of the language that describe which strings of the speech sounds or segments are found syllable initially, medially, and finally; see Kenstowicz (1994) and Goldsmith (2014) among others. It also refers to limitations on the distribution of sounds and sound sequences at various points in phonological words and phrases. Phonotactic processes also govern patterns of deletion and epenthesis of consonants and vowels.

Fig. 3.1: Universal syllable structure

Languages vary in...

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