Marang: Journal of Language and Literature

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Hiatus resolution in Ndau

Lovemore Mutonga


This study focuses on the strategies that are employed to resolve hiatus and the contexts where hiatus is tolerated through an analysis of the morpho-syntactic and phonological settings in which Ndau vowel sequences occur. This research establishes five strategies that Ndau utilizes to resolve hiatus; namely: glide formation, secondary articulation, elision, vowel coalescence and spreading. The findings of this study demonstrate that Ndau exclusively bans hiatus in nominals. In verbs, it is banned when V2 is an affix vowel but is permitted when V2 is a verb stem-initial vowel. Hiatus resolution is blocked when V2 is verb steminitial because ALIGN (ROOTVERB, L, σ, L) outranks ONSET in the verbal domain. Hiatus is also maintained in the verbal domain between the relative marker and tense sign boundary. In the cliticization domain hiatus is tolerated when V2 is a vowel of a host of a copulative proclitic /ndí-/ and its allomorphs because MAX-COP outranks ONSET.

Keywords: hiatus resolution, clitic, copulative, Optimality Theory, nominals, verbs, Ndau.

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