The phonological structure of English borrowed words in Dagbani

  • Abdul-Razak Inusah
  • Edward Salifu Mahama


This article examines the phonological processes and phonological structures that characterise words that are borrowed from English into Dagbani, a Gur language with a dominant CV syllable structure. The syllable is used as a descriptive tool in the accounts of the phonological difference of the borrowed words between English as the source language and Dagbani as the receiving language. The data used in this article shows that there is a strong influence of Dagbani on the pronunciation of English borrowed words as seen in examples like pᴐŋlɨ ‘pound’, masa ‘master’, fa:ɾa ‘father’, lo:ɾi ‘lorry’, pi:sɨlɨ ‘pistol’ and po:sɨ ‘post’. The results indicate that vowels are inserted between consonant clusters in English borrowed words at the onset of a syllable. The article suggests that the phonological differences that characterise the borrowed words when subjected to the phonotactics of Dagbani is the insertion of /ɨ/ and /ʊ/ to reshape the borrowed words. This is fundamental to the process of borrowing words into Dagbani. Evidence of phonological structures of loanwords existence in Dagbani confirms the explanation of the theory of loanword phonology in Gur languages, giving the basis for theoretical explanations in borrowing or loaning words from one language to the other.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117