The Grammatical Function of Tone in Ekegusii
Mariera, Elijah Omwansa
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This study sought to investigate the grammatical function of tone in Ekegusii, a Bantu language spoken in southwestern Kenya. The main objective was to determine how tone is utilized in marking some five grammatical categories: person, case, tense, mood and modality in Ekegusii. It was hypothesized that tone is utilized in the expression of these categories and established that this area posed a researchable linguistic gap, whose filling suggested great potential for academic value. The study employed the tenets of the Autosegmental phonology theory in analysing data to determine the function of tone in Ekegusii. The study targeted all the native speakers of the Rogoro dialect in Kisii and Nyamira counties. Twelve respondents were purposively sampled from Gesima location, Masaba North district for interviews. Voice responses were recorded for analysis and presentation of findings. The study established that tone distinguishes between the first and third persons in the category of person, and between the accusative and nominative cases. Four past forms were found to be marked by tone: the earlier today past, the recent past, the habitual past and remote past. In the categories of mood and modality, tone marks the imperative, the declarative and hortatory moods. At the same time, it expresses scales of modality like necessity and doubt. Only in the expression of the interrogative moods does tone look insufficient. The study has implications for future research work and early literacy and general material developers as explained in the last chapter. It is concluded that tone plays a significant role in Ekegusii grammar and recommended that studies be done in related areas to comprehensively describe the function of tone in Ekegnsii. Areas for further research in relation to tone are finally suggested.