LINGUIST List 25.4716

Fri Nov 21 2014

Diss: Luyia, Luidakho-Luisukha-Lutirichi; Historical Ling, Morphology, Phonology: Ebarb: 'Tone and Variation in Idakho and Other Luhya Varieties'

Editor for this issue: Danuta Allen <>

Date: 21-Nov-2014
From: Kristopher Ebarb <>
Subject: Tone and Variation in Idakho and Other Luhya Varieties
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Institution: Indiana University Bloomington
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2014

Author: Kristopher Ebarb

Dissertation Title: Tone and Variation in Idakho and Other Luhya Varieties

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Luidakho-Luisukha-Lutirichi (ida)
Language Family(ies): Luyia

Dissertation Director:
Robert Botne
Stuart M Davis
Kenneth de Jong
Michael R. Marlo
Samuel Gyasi Obeng

Dissertation Abstract:

Bantu languages commonly signal tense, aspect, mood, polarity, and clause-type distinctions with tonal as well as segmental cues. The inflectional tonal melodies on verbs may be viewed as underlyingly floating H tones (henceforth `melodic Hs') contributed by the morpho-syntax that are assigned by rule to different positions within the verb. Along with a small set of construction specific tonal adjustment rules, the number and position of melodic Hs distinguish one tonal melody from another.
The present dissertation makes two contributions to the study of the special role that tone plays in Bantu verbal morpho-syntax. First, it contributes extensive novel documentation of the verbal tone system of Idakho: a variety of the Luhya cluster of Bantu languages spoken near Lake Victoria in western Kenya and eastern Uganda. Second, I show how aspects of the Idakho system and that of other Luhya varieties like it have contributed to the development of rich diversity within the verbal tone systems of Luhya.
Part I comprises the descriptive component of the dissertation and emphasizes the impact of several factors known to influence verb tone in Bantu. Because many language consultants contributed to the project, the dissertation makes note of variation within and across speakers of Idakho. In Part II, I demonstrate the role that a preference for prosodically well-cued morphological boundaries has played in two striking tonal developments within the Luhya macrolanguage: the loss of a lexical tonal contrast reconstructed to Proto-Bantu and the introduction of tonal melodies in constructions for which there is no historical precedence for tonal inflection.

Page Updated: 21-Nov-2014