South African Journal of African Languages

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Coalescence as a hiatus resolution strategy in chiKaranga – a dialect of chiShona

Calisto Mudzingwa, Maxwell Kadenge


This article focuses on how chiKaranga resolves vowel hiatus through coalescence. ChiKaranga has an absolute ban on vowel hiatus and it employs five strategies, namely, glide formation, secondary articulation, elision, spreading and coalescence to resolve it. These strategies occur in phonologically and morphosyntactically determined complementary distribution. Glide formation, secondary articulation, elision and spreading operate within a Prosodic Word (Lexical Level). Glide formation, secondary articulation and elision have a unique relationship; they occur in nominals at the prefix-stem boundary. Spreading occurs in verbs at the Prosodic Stem boundary. Coalescence is the preferred strategy across a Prosodic Word boundary, precisely across a host-clitic boundary (Postlexical Level), and it involves the elision of V1 with the preservation of the feature [open] that is passed onto the following vowel. In chiKaranga, coalescence occurs when the clitic is minimally a CV syllable. When the clitic is monosegmental, coalescence is blocked and spreading, which preserves the identity of the monosegmental clitic operates.

South African Journal of African Languages 2014, 34(2): 127–136
AJOL African Journals Online