An examination of the discrepancies between the graphemic and the phonological structure of Gikuyu
Kuria, Peter Mburu
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There are few studies on the relationship between Gikuyu phonology and Gikuyu orthography. This study is an examination `of the discrepancies between the graphemic and the phonological structure of Gikuyu. Eight consonantal phonemes and their graphemic representation are under study. Discrepancies are identified and accounted for using the Autosegmental Phonology Theory (Goldsmith, 1990), Phonological Recodability (Koda, 1997) and Linguistic Mental Representation (Mattingly, 1992). Words that are borrowed from other languages are also examined to find out the extent of their adaptation into Gikuyu orthography. To achieve our objectives, we picked respondents from the Gikuyu dialects of Kiambu. Muranga and Nyeri. Non-native Gikuyu readers/speakers were also picked. They were all presented with words that had been translated into English from Gikuyu and asked to translate them back into Gikuyu. We have analysed their responses using the tenets of A.P. Theory from a psycholinguistic approach. One of our findings is that there are discrepancies which are as a result of dialect and lack of instruction in reading and writing Gikuyu. Another of our findings is that the mental representation of one language, for example English, may interfere with the representation of Gikuyu phonemes graphemically. We also observe that borrowed words are nativized into Gikuyu first phonologically then graphemically, and that this is an on-going process. Our recommendations are three-fold. First, a study needs to be done to establish the presence of the nasal segment in homorganic phonemes with a view of either maintaining or dropping the representation of the element graphemically. Secondly, we recommend a review of the orthography to include <f>, <v> and <p>. Lastly we have recommended that the Ministry of Education should re-examine the evaluation of the teaching and learning of Gikuyu in schools so as to achieve the objectives in the syllabus. This thesis is presented in five chapters. Chapter one deals with preliminary information. Chapter two contains a review of related literature. In chapter three, the theoretical framework and research methodology used in the study are presented. Chapter four is a presentation and analysis of data. Chapter five is a summary of the findings, conclusion and recommendations.