Vowel Deletion and Insertion in Úwù
AbstractÚwù is one of the many endangered languages in Nigeria.The number of its fluent speakers is believed to be less than 2000.The language is spoken in a small community known as Àyèré in Ìjùmú Local Government Area (LGA) of Kogi state. This paper describes the manifestation of vowel deletion and insertion in the language with the view of testing earlier assertions on the nature of vowel deletion and insertion in languages that are genetically related to Úwù. Apart from this, the paper is also an attempt to document these phonological phenomena (i.e. vowel deletion and insertion) before the language goes into extinction. About six hundred (600) lexical items of Úwù were collected for this research work with the aid of the 1000 word-list of the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Both linear and non-linear models were adopted for analysis in this research work. Cases involving segmental phonemes were analyzed with the linear phonology, while cases of feature stability and feature spread wereanalyzed using the non-linear model. The paper, among other things, reveals that the pattern of vowel deletion is predictable in Úwù, auto-segments like tone (mostly high tone), nasality and labial or round features usually persist even when the vowel which bore them was deleted. Apart from this, the paper also reveals that [i] is the epenthetic vowel in Úwù, and lastly, it is argued in the paper that nouns in Úwù are virtually vowel initial.
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