|Title:||Prosodic phonology in Bamana (Bambara): Syllable complexity, metrical structure, and tone|
|Abstract:||This dissertation characterizes three components of prosodic phonology, namely syllable structure, metrical structure, and tone, in Bamana (Bambara), a Mande language of West Africa, and its related varieties. Of primary interest is the Colloquial (non-standard) variety of Bamana spoken in Bamako, Mali, by a young cohort of individuals. It is shown that Colloquial Bamana differs in significant ways from other phonologically conservative or normative varieties of the language, most noticeably in its inventory of permitted complex syllable shapes. This thesis illustrates that the synchronic emergence of complex syllables in this language variety is bounded and restricted by higher prosodic structure in the language. It is demonstrated that prosodic domains in the form of disyllabic metrical feet are present in the language and play a role in driving the outcome of two complementary and at times competing processes of segmental reduction that are active in generating the noted complex syllable types. The overall goal of this thesis is to describe and analyze the mechanisms underlying these processes and prohibitions and to explore the implications that their presence has for both descriptive and theoretical phonology, as well as for phonological change in this and other related Mande languages.
Alongside these explorations into syllable complexity and metrical structure, this dissertation sheds new light on the tonal phonology of Bamana, a subject that has been shrouded in controversy for many years. By considering the tonal results or consequences of segmental minimization in Colloquial Bamana, the thesis offers new ideas on structures, processes, and changes underway in the language’s tonology. Topics explored in detail include tonal feet, tonal compactness, and tonal word melodies.