The Data Set Of Kikuyu Language Languages Essay


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This paper aims at observing the data set of Kikuyu language. Two frameworks are compared, i.e. the Sound Pattern of English (henceforth; SPE), and Post SPE (Autosegmental Phonology). Within the discussion, approaches form other theories will also be highlighted; however, the main point addressed in this paper is to evaluate the data set of Kikuyu on the basis of phonological theories within the two frameworks involved.

Based on SPE theory, the lexical entries should consist of sufficient information for the phonological rules in order to identify its phonetic forms for each context. In other words, each lexical entry is entered as a set of phonological distinctive features. Furthermore, the underlying representation (UR) is considered as an abstract representation in comparison to a surface representation (SR). Along the paper, we will discuss both frameworks together with feature notations and then we will analyze the data set segmentally to obtain the rules governing the language of Kikuyu.

In the next section, we will attempt to analyze the variability of the coordinated articulary apparatus with the spirit of the Post-SPE framework driven by a number of questions in the optimization of the data set analysis of with respect to the framework inquestion. During the analysis, we will not consider some basic requirements such as No Crossing Constraint and Linking Constraint in order to be consistent with the well-formedness condition of Post-SPE framework. Furthermore, we will also approach the so-called geometry of phonetic representations accompanied by sufficient examples to figure out any possible solution.

One of the central issues addressed within this paper is the analysis on the shifting of nasal + consonant with respect to the given data set. We will try to compare two theories in question and observe how those theories could account for the changes in the data set. At a later stage, we will see which theory casts better analysis of the given data than the other does.

Some literatures will be considered especially those from the textbook of Phonological Theory: The Essential Readings by Goldsmith, J. such as The Sound Pattern of English by Chomsky, N. and Halle, M., among others, as well as relevant sources which might give us more information about the language of Kikuyu. Now, let us go through the analysis from the first framework, i.e. the SPE framework.

The SPE Framework

The SPE framework is believed to be the basis of Generative Phonology since theories within this framework were influenced by the views from generative linguistics. Chomsky and Halle (in Goldsmith, 1999 : 17-19) states that a speaker's knowledge of his language consists of knowing the lexical items of the language and each lexical entry must contain specified features, which determine the phonetic form of the item in all contexts, i.e. the item's phonological features. Furthermore, such phonological features are classificatory devices, they are binary, as are all other classificatory features in the lexicon, for the natural way of indicating whether or not an item belongs to a particular category is by means of binary features.

What we have observed so far indicates that phonological components are obtained by mapping from the underlying representation (UR) to the surface (phonetic) representation (SR). This mapping phenomenon can be observed by rewrite rules which will be discussed in a separate part. In other words, the data set of Kikuyu we have so far could be considered as the Surface Representation. In the following paragraphs, we attempt to identify the underlying representation of the Kikuyu language.

As noted above, we have seen that the unchanged letters in table 2 could be analyzed as the stems or part of the stems of the words in the underlying representation. On the basis of minimization of the underlying representation we will attempt to rule in the consonant before the unchanged letters because it seems to be implausible to predict the consonants such as β, t, r, c, k, ɣ by rule. Furthermore, we have also observed that the consonant β can shift to b not the vice versa. Referring to the SPE theory, minimizing the underlying representation means that anything, which can be predicted by a rule, should be eliminated from the underlying representation. For instance, the shifting from β to b can be viewed in table 4 which is exemplified by the shifting is from βur to bur. Such process also applies to all other words in the data set. By definition, we could get something like /βur/ to be the actual stem for underlying representation of the word, which means 'lop off' in Kikuyu. The stems in underlying representation in the data set are presented in table 5 below and the Underlying Representations for the Imperative and 1 sg. Imperfect are represented in table 6.

As we can see above, the comparison between data d and e indicates the same thing for ordering of two rules as well. This suggests that the ordering of rules do not have something to do with the result. It further suggests that the nasals and the derived consonants could have a relatively strong connection with each other, i.e. one co-exists with the other.

Within the SPE framework, the data set has been analyzed in the form of features of lexical individual segments. We tried to apply the rules we have and they seems to work well. This gives further indication that the SPE framework can be considered as effective tool in explaining the phenomenon in data set of Kikuyu language. However, it seems that the relationship between the two rules is not transparent. The reason for this might be the difficulty in generating the only one rule instead of two explaining such phenomenon in the SPE framework.

For the sake of easiness, some tiers are excluded. Here, X represents the changed consonant in Kikuyu. The nasal is considered another X slot, which is marked as N. After spreading, we see that the two X-slots share the feature of [+ant] and [-cor]. The feature from the neighboring X-slot could be deleted after the course of spreading. The replacement of Rule A in the Post SPE framework is a bit more complicated than Rule B since deletion is involved. As for instance, consider Group A we have noted above, within the SPE framework, we will get the shifting below.

For the sake of easiness, some tiers are reduced. We can see in the shifting process that [-son, +voiced] features are preserved during the shifting and [+cont] feature becomes [-cont]. In the SPE framework, it is conceivable that morphological rules apply before phonological rules, so we have a Nasal slot before Consonant slot in 1 sg. Imperfect in Kikuyu. When we analyze further in the Post SPE framework during the shifting, [+son and -son] features reduces to [-son], then [cont and voice] features shift to [-cont, +voiced]. This suggests assimilation to the nasal feature. All consonants following the nasal are still [-cont, +voiced] but this is still regarded as process of assimilation. Therefore, the same place of articulation of nasal adapting to the following consonant is considered a process of assimilation.

In the above diagram, we have reduced some tiers for the sake of easiness. When the lines are associated, the line behind X is deleted, which is marked as (Ã-). This result the removal of the feature [+cont] [+voiced] and the slot receives new features from features under the N (nasal) slot. However, we see that feature [+son] turns into [-son] during the course of shifting. Therefore, this leads to an assimilation process towards nasal sound since nasal sound is [+son] and all other consonants do not change their [-son] features. This is problematical. Therefore, we might approach it within the spirit of "Geometry of Phonological Features" by Clement. He suggests that there are three types of assimilation; total, partial and single-feature, relying much on the position of the spreading element in the tiers. We see that [son] and [cont] generate on the same tier, i.e. manner tier. Therefore, classifying this phenomenon as partial and single feature assimilation seems to be implausible since the assimilation of the data set has involved more than one feature. It seems that dissimilation with such theory cannot be preserved. Now let us try to account for the phenomenon with the X theory. Consider the following diagram with an example the word βura in data a.

The two segments such as nasal and plosive behave like as if one segment. These segments can be considered as pre-nasalized consonants which might be marked in other forms. Similar phenomenon can also be found in other languages such as Bantu language. With respect to Kikuyu, it seem to be implausible for such a language to have a Nasal+Consonant (NC) cluster in 1 sg. Imperfect being a prenasalized consonant. Since the NC in the data set of Kikuyu is actually one X-slot it seems to be generalizeable that such a language does not allow two [+son] in one slot and one of them has to go [-son], which is in this case the consonant one. In other words, in NC cluster nasal sound is pronounced with [+son] and NC share the same [-cont, +voiced] features. Further, on this issue, we may need to address such phenomenon with another theory, which is still in the spirit of post SPE, i.e. the Mora theory

The discussion within this approach might give better understanding on the phenomena of mono segmental NC cluster. In Mora theory, however, it seems to be more difficult to propose further analysis on the given evidence for the changes, which have been involved in the language of Kikuyu. In this theory, an onset is what might be able to be changing in this language since an onset consonant is irrelevant to mora due to the absence of weight. It could be arguable that since the onset consonants do not count for timing (Van Oostendorp), the slot might only be one slot for the NC sounds instead of two slots for such a language. Consider the diagram below, which might suggest the first step of morphological alternation within the Mora theory.

Within this section, we attempt to account for the occurrence of spreading and assimilation within the Post-SPE framework. Certain phenomenon, which used to be a bit complicated to explain under the previous framework of phonological representations, is getting much more revealed if we try to observe any phenomena from the perspective of the Post SPE framework. The observation on the phenomenon of the Kikuyu data set seems to be better explained under the latest theory yet the nature of the data set should be preserved in such a good way, as Goldsmith proposes.

So far, we have tried to account for the phenomenon of Kikuyu language within the two frameworks, i.e. SPE and Post SPE. We have seen both strengths and weaknesses. By and large, the main difference between the two frameworks, SPE and Post SPE is that in SPE, data set of Kikuyu is analyzed within segmental level whereas in the later framework, the data set is analyzed in an auto-segmental level, hence it is called Autosegmental phonology. Further distinctions can also be captured within the notion of assimilation. In SPE framework, assimilation is construed as kind of copying process whereas in the later framework, assimilation is analyzed as spreading. Furthermore, in SPE we seems to have one-to-one which is defined as mapping whereas the later framework, the X position can be associated with zero, be it one or two autosegments.

In the SPE framework, we obtain the underlying representations on the basis of the features analysis in which at the later stage, we could generate two rules to represent the phenomenon of shifting in Kikuyu data set. In the later framework, we do not deal with rules, instead spreading of association lines and assimilation to account for the problem are involved. When we attempt to incorporate the two rules in SPE framework into one single spreading in the post SPE framework, some obstacles such as dissimilation of [son] could be encountered. We tried to propose some possible solutions to the problem in question; however, we seem to have some remaining problems. For example, when we try to propose one assumption of mono-segment instead of bi-segment for NC cluster within the Post SPE framework, but still there are some questions left.

In conclusion, both frameworks have their own strengths and weaknesses. In the SPE framework, we found that the rules are considered as well explained to deal with the given phenomenon. However, this framework is still unable to reveal the inner relationship among the changing elements in Kikuyu. In the later framework, the analysis is pretty much closer to the inner relationship but we see that there some exceptions that need to be considered. If we have to choose, we would say that the Post SPE framework seems to be much more helpful than that of the first framework regardless some exceptions exist. Following Goldsmith, the Post SPE framework contributes greater in figuring out the nature of Kikuyu language than the first one since it could approach some conditions of Kikuyu language better.

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