A phonological reality of the syllable
Mbugua, Alice Nyambura
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This dissertation is a demonstration of the significance of the syllable concept in Gikuyu (Yekojo) phonological structure. A phonological treatment of a given language implies the treatment of a language family. Hence the relevance of this study goes beyond the analysis of the Gikuyu syllable. The claims made imply claims on Bantu structure in general. It is therefore an attempt to determine the principles that govern the construction of rules related to native speech. The analysis proposed in this thesis constitutes a radical departure from previous studies that typify postural and linear approaches to phonological study. It suggests a more dynamic, non-linear view of phonology. Investigation conducted along these lines results in descriptions of a more immediately transparent nature with respect to surface phonetic facts. This study is organized in seven chapters. The first chapter is an introduction. It outlines the general design, goals and validation of the study. Validation is further explored in chapter two. In the latter the scope of segmental phonology is considered. In chapters three and four the principles of syllable structure and syllabification are investigated. This includes the role of syllabic constraints on loan word restructuring. Chapters five and six constitute the pivot of the study. In these chapters the function of the syllable concept in phonotactic rules is demonstrated through a consideration of both vowel and consonant processes. In chapter seven the study as a whole is evaluated. This evaluation includes the relevance to the discipline of neurolinguistics: a recent perspective to the neuropsychological study of language. Finally, a principled application to pedagogy: science of language education - is argued. Three basic principles guide this study: i) From a descriptive point of view, it presents a new integrated account of important aspects of phonology and furthermore examines data usually omitted from consideration. ii) From a theoretical point of view, data borrowed from different theoretical notions is re-interpreted in order to present an accurate picture of structural relations. iii) From a methodological point of view, the study is rendered self-explanatory by presentation of definitions of concepts and terminology. One of course appreciates that there is no easy way to phonological analysis. Yet as one scholar once protested: 'We cannot imagine that so many people would have attempted any analysis unless they believed they could reach some measure of success.' That measure of success is what a researcher strives for.