Academic journal article Studies in African Linguistics

Ternary Spreading and the Ocp in Copperbelt Bemba

Academic journal article Studies in African Linguistics

Ternary Spreading and the Ocp in Copperbelt Bemba

Article excerpt

Bemba tonology has been described with respect to two prominent claims: H tone local spreading is binary, and is blocked by the OCP. These claims are based on Bemba, as spoken in Northern Zambia. This paper examines these two claims with respect to contemporary Bemba as it is spoken today in the Copperbelt province of Zambia. This paper shows that in Copperbelt Bemba (CB), these two aspects of H tone spreading are markedly different. In CB, local spreading is ternary, not binary, and a H will undergo binary spreading even if it causes an OCP violation. Ternary spread will be shown to follow from two rules: High Tone Doubling and Secondary High Doubling motivated by different constraints within CB tonology. In addition to documenting and describing the behavior of high tone in CB, a comparison to other cases of ternary spreading is also made.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Introduction

The tonology of Bemba is a subject that is considered quite well investigated given the seminal works on Bemba tonology, including Guthrie (1945), Sharman & Meeussen (1955) and Sharman (1956). Guthrie (1945) looks at nominal tonology while the latter two articles look at verbal tonology. In addition, the work of Mann (1977) and Philippson (1998) also make significant contributions to the study of Bemba tone.1 A different and important point of departure of the current paper is the particular Bemba dialect under investigation. All the previous works cited are based on what is called "central Bemba", as spoken in the Bemba heartland in the Northern Province of Zambia and to a large extent based on data collected over 50 years ago. In contrast, this paper focuses on newly collected data from Copperbelt Bemba (CB, henceforth) as spoken in central Zambia. A major part of the goal of the paper is to provide a comparison of the two dialects to highlight similarities and differences, as a way of better understanding Copperbelt Bemba tone, and to offer an analysis of hitherto unexamined facts of CB tone.

There are three central findings with respect to Northern Bemba (NB, henceforth) tonology that are found in the literature cited above and which will be the focus of our comparison with Copperbelt Bemba: (i) local high tone spreading is binary; (ii) high spreading is blocked by the OCP; and (iii) there is unbounded high spread if no high follows. While we have not found any major difference in unbounded spreading (iii), we will show that in CB, the first two properties of NB are markedly different. In CB, local spreading is ternary, not binary, and a high will undergo binary spreading even if it causes an OCP violation (resulting in a phonetic downstep). In addition to documenting and describing the behavior of high tone in CB and offering an analysis of contemporary CB tone, we compare our findings on ternary spreading to similar cases in other languages.

The paper is structured as follows. Section 2 provides relevant background on Bemba tone, particularly with respect to those characteristics that are shared by both dialects. Section 3 provides a detailed overview of NB tonology data as discussed in the literature. Section 4 looks at the same facts in CB, highlighting the differences and describing the relevant distributional patterns. Section 5 provides an analysis of the main findings in CB, both in terms of rules and autosegmental representations. Section 6 looks at comparable data on ternary spread and its analysis in different Bantu/African languages. Finally, section 7 offers some concluding remarks.

2. Basic Bemba tonology

2.1 Language background. We would like to begin by providing some background to the evolution of CB, and by identifying the population that is the focus of this work. The seminal works of Sharman and Meeussen (1955) and Guthrie (1945) were conducted at a time when there was essentially one main Bemba-speaking area in the north of the country. This situation has changed, however, since the discovery of copper in central Zambia (Copperbelt Province) in the early 1900s leading to major migrations of Bemba-speaking peoples from the north to the Copperbelt, between the 1920s and 1940s. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.