|Title:||Optimal Domains Theory and Bantu Tonology: A Case Study from Isixhosa and Shingazidja|
|Authors:||Farida Cassimjee, Charles W. Kisseberth|
|Abstract:|| The surface tonal patterns of Bantu languages are both complex and
diverse. At the same time, Bantu languages share very similar inputs.
Optimality Theory predicts that differences in languages with similar
inputs should derive from differences in constraint ranking. The
present paper attempts to develop a set of Faithfulness and
Phonological constraints which will provide the basis for reducing the
diverse surface tonal patterns of Bantu to differences in constraint
The analysis is conducted using a version of Optimality Theory that
we refer to as Optimal Domains Theory (=ODT). ODT replaces the
autosegmental notion of "multiply-linked feature" with the notion of a
"feature domain" and develops an approach to featural faithfulness
that recognizes that there are "degrees of faithfulness." ODT sees
much of the opacity found in Bantu tonal systems as revolving around
imperfect faithfulness, and the notion of featural domains is critical
to the analysis of phonological opacity.
The paper initially develops the proposed set of Faithfulness and
Phonological constraints on the basis of grammar fragments from a
variety of Bantu languages. It then turns to an examination of an
extensive fragment of the tonology of Isixhosa and of Shingazidja.
These two languages at first blush do not seem to be particularly
similar (except that both fall into the category of "tone shifting" as
opposed to "tone spreading" languages). We demonstrate, however, that
their superficial dissimilarity simply reflects a small number of
differences in the ranking of the constraints that we propose.
The proposed constraint system is certainly not exhaustive.
There are tonal phenomena in Bantu which are not addressed at all, or
only briefly. But at the same time, the proposed constraints do in fact
provide a basis for further research -- research not directed simply
at the architecture of Optimality Theory, but also directed at the
building blocks (the constraint set).