South African Journal of African Languages

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An analysis of the ghost augment in chiShona

Calisto Mudzingwa, Maxwell Kadenge


There are two positions regarding the augment in chiShona. Doke (1931), Marconnès (1931), Fortune (1955) and Harford (1997) use vowel coalescence as the evidence for the existence of a ‘ghost’ augment (‘augment hypothesis’). They, however, provide no formal analysis. In contrast, Odden (1981) and Myers (1990) explain the same phenomenon as assimilation – an implicit denial of the existence of an augment (‘no augment hypothesis’). This article presents new evidence in support of the ‘augment hypothesis’, provides an Optimality Theory (hereafter OT) analysis and demonstrates that the ‘no augment hypothesis’ is indefensible.

South African Journal of African Languages 2013, 33(1): 87–93
AJOL African Journals Online