A Morphophonological Analysis of Borrowed Segments in Ekegusii Language: An Optimality Perspective.
Mose, Edinah Gesare
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Language phonotactics and morphotactics are very significant in determining linguistic borrowing. Despite this significance, fewer studies have explored this interplay. This study undertook a morphophonological analysis of borrowed segments in Ekegusii. To achieve this, the study described the phonological adaptations, phonological processes that shape the patterns of the borrowed segments in Ekegusii, established both the phonotactics and morphotactics of the Ekegusii language that constrain borrowing and ascertained the extent to which Optimality Theory accounts for borrowing in Ekegusii. The Optimality Theory as proposed by Prince and Smolensky (1993 and 2004) and Kager (1999) as well as Generalized Alignment Theory by McCarthy and Prince (1993a) were used in the study. A descriptive linguistic fieldwork design guided this study. This study targeted proficient adult Ekegusii speakers both male and female who were neither too young nor too old, had all their own teeth and did not have any speech disorders. To arrive at the appropriate study sample, purposive sampling was used and it was carried out in two stages. First, the researcher sampled two hundred words from Ekegusii dictionary, then supplemented from introspection. Secondly, the researcher sampled three proficient adult Ekegusii speaker respondents (two males and one female) who were interviewed to overtly realize the sound patterns in the Ekegusii borrowing processes. Data collection instruments included a wordlist which was subjected to the respondents through interviews which were recorded to yield spoken data. Data analysis revealed that loanwords in Ekegusii undergo both phonological and morphological adaptations. First, on phonological adaptations the findings revealed that English vowels tend to be substituted with those in Ekegusii which they have shared features in terms of horizontal and vertical tongue position, tenseness as well as shape of the lips. On consonantal segments, data showed that the sounds that were adapted shared at least the major-class features, laryngeal, manner and place features with those they replaced. In addition, segments that are unmarked and preferred cross linguistically were adapted over the marked ones. OT constraints accounted for all the phonological and morphological processes whereby markedness constraints dominated the faithfulness constraints. Phonotactics of Ekegusii language that constrain borrowing were revealed at two levels: segmental and syllabic. On the morphological adaptations, it was established that borrowed segments are mapped to different noun classes with the prefix marker being the overriding factor. It is expected that this study will contribute to the existing literature on Bantu languages in relation to borrowing within the framework of Optimality Theory.