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Journal Articles Nordic Journal of African studies Year : 2017

Nasals and Low Tone in Grassfields Noun Class Prefixes


As it is well known, noun class prefixes are low tone in Narrow Bantu and classes 1, 3, 4, 6(a), 9, and 10 have nasals (Meeussen 1967). However, just outside Narrow Bantu, noun class prefixes are usually high tone and the nasals are typically missing. A dichotomy is found in Grassfields Bantu where Eastern Grassfields resembles Narrow Bantu but the Ring and Momo subgroups of Western Grassfields have high tone prefixes and lack nasals except sporadically. Drawing on data from Babanki and other Ring languages, we show that this relationship is not accidental. In a number of contexts where we expect a high tone prefix, a stem-initial NC cluster requires that it rather be low. We provide some speculations in this paper as to why nasals should be associated with low tone, an issue that has not been fully addressed in the literature on consonant types and tone.
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hal-03691842 , version 1 (14-06-2022)


  • HAL Id : hal-03691842 , version 1


Pius W. Akumbu, Larry Hyman. Nasals and Low Tone in Grassfields Noun Class Prefixes. Nordic Journal of African studies, 2017, 26 (1), pp.1-13. ⟨hal-03691842⟩
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