Morphophonology of the 'Gitamanya' Argot of the Matatu Crew of Embu Town
Mugendi, Nixon Isaiah
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The way people use language depends on their ability to comprehend the utterances of their interlocutors. If the choice and use of words is purposely meant to lock outnonmembersin the conversation, then the language can be termed as secretive. This studytried to find out how certain people from Embu have distorted the existing natural language to form an argot. Gitarnanya, the argot under study, is spoken by matatu crew from Embu Town. The study sought to find out how Kiembu and borrowed words are distorted and used in Gitamanya. The study also sought to find their morphological structure before and after distortion and the phonological processes triggered by this distortion as used in the Gitamanya. To achieve this, the study was guided by Lexical Phonology Theory which posits the idea that any alteration of the morphological form of a word provokes a corresponding alteration of phonological form of that word. The study was anchored on the descriptive research design and conducted at NENO Sacco Nairobi bound matatu terminus in Embu Town. The targeted population was the matatu drivers and conductors. Sampling was done using purposive and snowballing methods that helped form a focus group of six respondents. The six informants helped the researcher extract the first hundred words of the Gitamanya argot. The data was collected through informal conversational interview. The words were captured in a one hour recording of different sessions. The data collected was presented in tables showing the grammatical categories the words belong to. The word structure was presented in monosyllabic, disyllabic and polysyllabic tables that show the original word and the argot forms. Finally, there are the analyses showing the morphological and phonological changes after the distortion of Kiembu words as used in the Gitamanya argot. After syllable reversal, there are morphological units that switch positions causing the distortion. The noun prefix is displaced while the verb root is distorted when the final vowel (FY) forms the initial syllable. In verbs there are morphemes displaced by the syllable reversal. There are also phonological changes resulting from morphological changes. These findings show the interaction between morphological processes and phonological processes. It is therefore that this study recommends further studies in argots to increase literature of argots in the linguistic circles. Finally, more studies ofKiembu should be done so that linguists get a point of reference and promote the language ofEmbu County.