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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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Chapter 2: Literature Review


Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 General Studies on Classification

As already pointed out in the background, not many studies have been done on the six dialects. However, there are several general studies done on language classification and more specifically on Bantu languages. Some of them include: Bleek (1862, 1869); Lindblom (1914); Johnston (1919); Meinhof (1932); Cole (1959); Doke (1945, 1967); Doke & Cole (1961); Guthrie (1948, 1967, 1970/71); Ladefoged et al. (1971); Henrici (1973); Hinnebusch (1973); Mould (1976).

There are other studies that have focused on some specific aspects of language such as morphology, phonology and dialectology. Some of these include: Wamberia (1979, 1993, 2002); Möhlig (1974); Heine & Möhlig (1980); Bennett (1967, 1973, 1985); Mutahi (1983); Bakari (1985); Motzafi-Haller et al. (2006) among others. These are not restricted to the dialects of the current research except Wamberia (1979, 1993, 2002) and Lindblom (1914), whose studies have focused on Tharaka, and Möhlig (1974), who has done a detailed dialectological analyis of the East Mt. Kenya dialects. These studies will, therefore, give insights into the general classification of Bantu languages and more specifically into the linguistic groups that are the concern of this research. In the following section, some of the sources above and others considered to be relevant to the current research will be discussed. The literature is thus broken down into three areas: studies on Bantu classification, dialectology (from general studies to more specific ones that are more relevant to...

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