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Lexico-Phonological Comparative Analysis of Selected Dialects of the Meru-Tharaka Group


Fridah Kanana Erastus

This study is an investigation into the comparative phonology and lexicon of six barely-known Bantu varieties spoken in Kenya. These varieties (Imenti, Igoji, Tharaka, Mwimbi, Muthambi and Chuka) belong to the so-called Meru group. The study develops a new classification of these six dialects. Therefore, a dialectological approach is used, which includes the analysis of wordlists and lists of short phrases elicited in the field. From the data, isoglosses and similarities concerning morpho-phonological processes are drawn. The results show in which respects the dialects differ from each other. Thus, the present work contributes to comparative Bantu linguistics.
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In writing this work, I have depended upon steadfast colleagues, educators, leaders, mentors, friends, and family. I, therefore, wish to thank all those who in one way or another have contributed towards the success and completion of this work. I wish to mention some individuals and groups/organisations that have, in one way or another, influenced the success of this work directly or indirectly. My thanks go to the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD) for awarding me a scholarship that enabled me to lead a comfortable life throughout my stay in Germany. I also thank my employer, Kenyatta University, for granting me study leave.

Special recognition is due to my supervisor Prof. Dr. Rainer Vossen for guiding me through this work and allowing me to knock at his door any time I had troubling questions and concepts to discuss with him. Thanks to him for his critical reading, advice and discussion from which I benefited greatly. He was not only a “Doktorvater” to me but also a father, who patiently listened and advised me accordingly, not to mention his jokes that soothed a heavy heart when the going got tough. His diverse and critical comments, patience, and friendship provided the guidance I needed to complete this work.

I am greatly indebted to Dr. Erhard Voeltz, who helped me “understand” my own mother-tongue and provided me with reading materials that were so rare and difficult to come by. I thank him for not only reading through several...

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