The Phonology-Syntax Interface in Avikam

  • F Ahoua


Very often African languages have been claimed to have tones but no intonation which may be understood as some organization of complex prosodic or breath grouping, beyond the segment. However recent studies have shown that these languages may have complex prosodic structures. Avikam, an isolate lagoon language of the Kwa cluster spoken in the Ivory Coast, is investigated. The paper argues that Tone Lowering is a well established phonological rule that is constrained both by syntactic and prosodic domains, in a quite intricate way. This interaction points to an interface level between syntax and phonology, which may differ from a mere postlexical component. Based on the Tone Lowering rule, prosodic domains such as the phonological word, the phonological phrase and the tonal foot are identified. The paper provides evidence that recursion of the prosodic word is a common process similar to that attested in Leben and Ahoua (1997). The paper has implications for the strong version of the Strict layer Hypothesis (Selkirk 1978), for which some weakening may be required.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2458-746X
print ISSN: 0855-1502