An Optimal Domains Theory Analysis
This book provides both a comprehensive description of the tonal system of the verb in Isixhosa (a language belonging to the Nguni subgroup of the Bantu language family) and a detailed exemplification of the Optimal Domains Theory approach to tone in general and Bantu tone in particular. A set of universal constraints governing the behavior of High tone is proposed and motivated on the basis of a survey of the major tonal phenomena in several representative Bantu languages. This set of universal constraints then provides the basis for the development of an analysis of the tone pattern of Isixhosa as manifested in the verbal system. While much of the tonology of Isixhosa can be insightfully analyzed in terms of the central notion of a High Tone Domain, the very complex effects of the so-called depressor consonants are particularly challenging. The final analysis of these complex data requires the postulation of (a) a second type of domain, the Register Domain, and (b) two levels with different constraint rankings. An extremely rich and complex set of data turns out to reflect the interaction of a number of well-motivated universal principles. This book thus lays the basis for further research into the universal tonal patterns exemplified by the many Bantu languages of sub-Saharan Africa.
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