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THE PHONOLOGY OF DAGBANI VERBAL REDUPLICATION Samuel Alhassan Issah Department of Gur-Gonja Education, University of Education, Winneba, Ghana samuel_issah@yahoo.com This paper examines the phonology of reduplication in Dagbani; an under- researched Gur language spoken in Northern Ghana by the Dagbamba. I examine the data within the theoretical framework of Optimality Theory. I argue that, in Dagbani, the reduplicant has to be exactly two moras- that is, either a long vowel (CVV), two light syllables, (CV.CV) or a (CVN) syllable. I postulate that segment insertion and deletion are employed to meet the bimoraic size requirement of the reduplicant. The epenthetic segment is identified as a homorganic nasal suffixed to the stem of the reduplicant, whilst the deleted segment is invariably /i/. Reduplication could also be devoid of insertion and deletion in instances where complete copying of the base will yield the needed bimoraic size needed for the reduplicative stem. I hypothesize that the insertion of the homorganic nasal and deletion of /i/ could be analyzed as an instance of phonological conspiracy. Ce papier examine la phonologie de la réduplication en Dagbani, une langue Gur moins étudiée mais parlée au Nord du Ghana par les Dagbamba. J’examine ces données suivant le modèle de la théorie de l’optimalité. J’avance l’argument qu’en Dagbani, le réduplicant doit exactement être deux segmentations c’est-à-dire, soit une longue voyelle (CVV) deux syllabes courtes (simples) (CV.CV), soit une syllabe (CVN). Je postule que l’insertion et la suppression d’un segment sont employées pour satisfaire à la taille de la bisegmentation exigée du duplicant. Le segment inserré est identifié comme un suffixe nasal homo-organique associé à la base du duplicant, tandis que le segment supprimé reste invariablement /i/. La réduplication pourrait aussi être dépourvue d’insertion ou de suppression dans le cas où une copie totale (complète) de la base produira la taille du bisegment exigée dont la base réduplicative a besoin. Je mets l’hypothèse que l’insertion du nasal homo-organique et la suppression de /i/ pourraient être analysées comme un cas de conspiration phonologique. 0. INTRODUCTION This paper examines the phonology of verbal reduplication in Dagbani, a Gur language spoken in the Northern Region of Ghana by the Dagbamba (Dagomba). Dagbani belongs to the Niger-Congo language family. It is classified as a member of the South Western Oti-Volta Central Gur languages spoken in Northern Ghana, Bendor-Samuel (1989), Naden (1988) and Wilson (1970). It is spoken mainly in the north-eastern part of Ghana. Some other Gur languages which are somewhat close to Dagbani in terms of linguistic features include: Dagaare, Mampruli, Safaleba, Kusaal, Gurune. Hudu (2010:3) also argues that “Dagbani is the mother tongue of two ethnic groups, which include the Dagomba and Nanumba”. By this he means that Nanuni is not a distinct language from Dagbani. He further assumes that Dagbani shares a high level of mutual intelligibility with the Mampruli speakers of Mampruli. Abdul- Rahman (2005) also makes the same argument that Nanuni be seen as a dialect of Dagbani rather than a language on its own. The essence of this paper is to give a description of verbal reduplication as it operates in Dagbani. Though reduplication has received some attention from Dagbani scholars such as Olawsky (1999) and Hudu (2010), none of them gives any detailed analysis of the phenomenon. This work is unique in the sense that it is the first to discuss the phonology of reduplication in detail. Though Dagbani has a continuum of geographical/regional dialects, three major dialects stand out: Tomosili (the Western dialect) which is spoken in Tamale, the 40 Journal of West African Languages XXXVIII.1 (2011) Northern Regional capital and its environs, and Nayahali (the eastern dialect), spoken in and around Yendi, the seat of the political head of Dagboŋ, that is the land that is occupied by the Dagbamba, and Nanuni spoken around Bimbilla. Dialectal differences between these three major dialects are mainly at the phonological and lexical levels. The data used in this paper is based on the Tomosili dialect of the Dagbani language. Though Dagbani does not mark tone orthographically, for the purposes of this paper, tone is marked. Nasalization is a very active phonological process in Dagbani1. Accordingly, it is very common for vowels which are adjacent to nasals to get the nasal quality of the consonant spread to them, resulting in their surfacing as nasalized vowels. Reduplication is the morphological process by which a root or stem of a base, or part of it is repea

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