Interaction and notation of tone, stress and intonation in Ika Igbo

  • Joy Oluchi Uguru


This paper investigates the existence of tone, stress and intonation in an otherwise tone language, Ika Igbo. It shows that stress and intonation actually exist in the dialect, as evidenced by the significant prominence of certain syllables in the utterances used for the study. This prominence has been proved by both acoustic and perceptual analyses. Hence in Ika, every intonation group (or tonal intonation group) has a nucleus (a stressed syllable) and it is this nucleus that bears the intonation. This is how stress interacts with intonation in Ika. Tone, on its part, is also affected by this interaction as there tend to be tonal changes, losses and masking particularly at the nuclear syllables. These are shown in the illustrative utterances. However, there appears to be a problem as to how these features – tone, stress and intonation – can be indicated without confusion. Therefore, a system where only tones and intonation are indicated, with the knowledge that the nucleus bears the stress as well as the intonation, is proposed in this paper. Other degrees of stress are subsumed under tone since every syllable bears a tone.

South African Journal of African Languages 2014, 34(1): 119–124

Author Biography

Joy Oluchi Uguru
Department of Linguistics, Igbo and other Nigerian Languages, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117