An Analysis of Gikuyu Reduplication in the light of Prosodic Morphological Approach
Komu, Mary W.
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Linguistic studies on Bantu languages in general and Gikuyu in particular are rather scanty compared to studies on Western languages. Theories rarely test their claims on African languages. There is a tendency to generalize what holds for English to be true in general. The need to test such theories on Gikuyu data is the driving force behind this study. The study, a Morpho- Phonological analysis of reduplication as a productive word formation process in Gikuyu applies a Morpho -Semantic Perspective to Gikuyu nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Reduplication, in linguistics, is a morphological process in which the root or stem of a word or only part of it is repeated. Reduplication is used in inflections to convey semantic functions, such as plurality, intensification and genuinity and in lexical derivation to create new words. It is often used, when a speaker adopts a tone more expressive or figurative than the ordinary speech. Reduplication is often but not exclusively, iconic in meaning. It is found in a wide range of languages and language groups, though its level of linguistic productivity varies. Reduplication is also defined as the doubling of a syllable, part of a word or a word, sometimes with modifications. As we analyse this phenomenon in Gikuyu, we find that it often goes beyond the mere suggestion of a certain playfulness or intimacy it has in some languages and often serves a crucial grammatical function. Research involves formulating concepts and generalization on a given theory. The goal of this study is three- fold: to provide an analysis of the variant patterns of reduplication; to describe the various semantic functions associated with the variant patterns, and finally to determine how Gikuyu reduplication patterns could be described using the Prosodic Morphology theoretical approach. This study has applied the tenets of Prosodic Morphology Theory to Gikuyu data. The effects of the reduplicant on the language have been explained using the same tenets. This qualitative study sampled nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs for the investigation. The data was in form of words and it revealed that there are variant patterns of reduplication in Gikuyu. Secondly, various semantic functions associated with those patterns were numbered, described and discussed. Logical deductions were drawn in relation to the behaviour of the reduplicating morphemes. Data analysis and presentation was done using principles of the Prosodic Morphology Theory. The findings of the analysis of reduplication in this study confirm that there are variant patterns of Gikuyu reduplication. Those patterns are associated with various semantic functions. The patterns are drawn from both full and partial reduplication. Distinct word classes exhibit varying semantic functions. The reduplicative morphemes that form the patterns are suffixal for full reduplication. Partial reduplication is typically prefixal. The Prosodic Morphological theoretic approach is applied to analyse Gikuyu reduplication. Our recommendations were that a similar study could be done to investigate other Bantu languages or a comparative study of Bantu languages be conducted to give an overall description pertaining to this phenomenon.