CHAPTER ONE
1.0

BACKGROUND

AND

INTRODUCTION
The study of Sierra Leonean languages as first languages dates as far back ...
utilization of national languages in the education system thus started in 1978. The Dalby report
took into consideration t...
there are variations in the phonemes of the four languages. This research most importantly seeks
to prove and clarify thes...
This study would revolve around, not only the individual linguistic study of the particular
language(s) as commonly done, ...
As a native speaker of one of the languages and possessing a near native command of another,
the researcher will use his l...


Promotion of mass literacy in the mother tongue of each linguistic community



Achievement of universal primary educa...


The termination of the so-called verbal aptitude tests in the National Primary School
Examination (N.P.S.E), and the im...
linguistic and socio-cultural continents i.e. Europe (primarily England) and the Americas. This
unfortunate synthesis lead...
the recaptives had very little contact with Europeans or European culture and spoke an array of
west African languages inc...
by people of different ethnic backgrounds who use krio as common language. This variety is
usually heavily tinted with wor...
roughly 18,000 square miles, accounting for over 35% of the population of Sierra Leone (1983
census), making them the thir...
The Mende language as we know it today somehow came to be in Sierra Leone as a result of
Mande invasions that swept across...


SΣwa Mende; constitutes 35% of the Mende population and is spoken primarily along
the SΣwa river



K

Mende; constitu...
Leone (2004 population census), inhabiting 10,000 to 11,000 sq miles to the west coast
(Schlenker 1864), eastwards themnel...
Mandingo, Susu, Vai, Yalunka, Fula, Bage and other Bantu languages in central, south and east
Africa as sister languages o...
3) Auditory Phonetics: This deals with the study of speech sounds in relation to the organ of
hearing, the perception of s...
A more comprehensive definition of phonology is derived from Nikolai Trubetzkoy in his work
Gründ Zuger der Phonologie (19...
“The first requirement for a phonetic description of a language is a
good account of phonology. It is also true that in or...
1. The position of the tongue that is raised or the height of the tongue in the mouth
2. The shape of the lips.
In relatio...
Front

Centre

Back

Close
Mid-close
Mid-open

Front

Centre

Back

Close
Mid-close
Mid-open

Open
Open

It is also worthy...
When the obstruction involves the two lips coming together to form a blockage, the resulting
sound is a bilabial. This is ...
into contact with speech organs, in as much, Manner of Articulation as a consonant labelling
parameter captures the behavi...
Frictionless Continuant: In the production of these sounds, the tongue is convex to the roof of the
mouth, but there is no...
2.5 THE PHONEME
Phonology as discussed earlier in this chapter is based on the theory that every native speaker of
a langu...
in which positions in a word. For example some sounds can be aspirated (pronounced with an
extra puff of air) in word init...
have no right to guess about the linguistic workings of an inaccessible mind” Trubetzkoy also
maintains that “reference to...
Examples
Biriwa

Safr

k

Gloss

Hati

Fati

Child

Hintima

Fintima

Darkness

The velar nasal [ŋ] also most often comes ...
voiceless alveolar fricative [s] and the voiceless palato – alveolar fricative [sh] are also in free
variance before the v...
CHAPTER THREE

3.0 PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY; A SIERRA LEONEAN PERSPECTIVE
Speech sounds in the four national languages of S...
Considering the traditional vowel articulatory parameters labels such as front, back, etc vowels
in Krio can be schematica...
4) [ a ] Central low open vowel
As in
an (hand), hat (heart/to hurt), bata (drum)
5) [ ] back rounded half open vowel
As i...
ayd (to hide), kayt (kite), tay (to tie)

3) [aw]
As in
awtin (outing), krawd (crowd), kaw (cow)

3.1.3 CONSONANTS IN KRIO...
As in
k

p (cup), kotoku (purse), tik (stick)

6) [ g ] Voiced Velar Plosive
As in
g d d (god), agidi (a food), beg (to be...
As in
san (sun), plasas (sauce), sus (shoe)

4) [ z ] Voiced Alveolar Fricative
As in
ziro (zero), bizi (busy), briz (bree...
 Nasals

1) [ m ] Bilabial Nasal
Attested in
m toka (car), fambul (family), kam (to come)
2) [ n ] Alveolar nasal
Atteste...
 Pre-nasals

1) [ ny ] Pre-nasalized palatal
Attested in
ny lΣ (food for the dead), kanya (a food)

 Glides

1) [ l ] Vo...
Attested in
jomp (to jump), ajo (kind gesture), ej (age)

From the preceding, it can be discerned that Krio contains thirt...
open

a

3.2.1 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF VOWELS IN LIMBA
1) [ I ] Front un-rounded high close vowel
Attested in
hiti (smok...
Attested in
huru (breeze), huyΣ (night, hunku (gun power)

3.2.2 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION ON IMPURE / DIPHTHONG PHONEMES IN
...
Attested in
Kumuy (housefly), afuy (to be far/ become plenty)

3.2.2 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF CONSONANT PHONEMES IN LIMBA...
doni (a load), kpede (impotence)
6) [ t ] Voiceless Alveolar plosive
Attested in
taka (sheep), mΣti (town)

7) [ th ] voic...
10) [ n ] Voiced alveolar nasal stop
Attested in
n ndi (truth), nine (to sleep), ntantan (anus)
11) [ ŋ ] Voiced velar nas...
Note: The voiceless labio dental fricative [f] and the voiceless glottal fricative [h] are invariably
used at word initial...
1) [ mb ] Pre-nasalized voiced bilabial plosive
Attested in
mbompa (leaf), mboma (sickness)
2) [ mp ] Pre-nasalized voicel...
8) [ns] Pre-nasalized voiceless alveolar fricative
Attested in
Nsoronsi (drainage)
9) [nl ] Pre-nasalized alveolar lateral...
3.3 THE PHONEMES IN MENDE
Phonetically, Mende speech sounds are categorized into vowels and consonants. The vowels
consist...
Attested in
Genda (morning), fe (to give)

3) [ Σ ] Front un-rounded half open vowel
Attested in
yΣlΣ (to laugh), sΣlΣ (ba...
etc.These will be discussed in chapter Four. The feature underlines the tonality of the language as
the double vowels sign...
Attested in
genda (morning), ngegem

(worker)

7) [kp] voiceless labio velar stop
Attested in
Kpaki (shoulder), hakpa (sau...
faji (bucket), bafa (a hut)
2) [v] Voiced labio dental fricative
Attested in
Vonu (last year), kava (to cheat)
3) [s] Voic...
1) [ l ] Voiced alveolar lateral
Attested in
Luma (to agree), mbala (sheep)
 Affricate
1) [ j ] Voiced alveo-palatal affr...
Nja (water, manja (a quarrelsome woman)
5) [ny] Voiced palatal pre-nasal
Attested in
Nyini (rat), faanyi (gari)

In sum, M...
3.3.1 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF VOWELS IN THEMNE
1) [ I ] Front unrounded closed vowel
Attested in
Fisa (better), fi (to d...
Kor (stomach), wol (to play)
7) [ u ] Back rounded closed vowel
Attested in
Utik (stranger), sum (darkness), fu (new/for n...
4) [ y]
Attested in
s y (Stealthily), th y (to burn)
5) [oy]
Attested in
Boy (succulent), foy (to float)
9) [uy]
Attested ...
Attested in
Tim (to fight), utik (a stranger), nånt (fire)
4) [ d ] Voiced alveolar plosive
Attested in
Der (to come), afi...
hakΣ (sin), åharamu (sinful act)
4) [ sh ] voiceless palato-alveolar fricative
Attested in
Shel (to laugh)
5) [ th ] Voice...
Wop (to hold),
2) [ y ] Voiced palatal semi vowel
Attested in
Yim (red), iyola (a rich man)

 Glides
1) [ l ] Voiced alve...
Haven independently examined the sound systems and the phonemes of the four languages. I
now proceed to the climax of this...
3) Consonants

4.1 MONOPHTHONGS OR PURE VOWELS
All but one of the seventeen or so Sierra Leonean Languages gave a seven vo...
5

[

]

rinch (orange)

r ntima (nail)

n mi (green)

spitul (hospital)

t ŋa (to drop)

b ndo (okra)

Os (house )

Loya ...
4.1.2.1 PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF PURE VOWEL PHONEMES IN

THEMNE
1) [ I ] Front un-rounded closed vowel
Attested in
Fisa (be...
7) [ u ] Back rounded closed vowel
Attested in
Utik (stranger), sum (darkness), fu (new/for nothing)
8) [ å ] Mid Central ...
4.1.3.1 OCCURRENCE PATTERNS OF PURE VOWEL PHONEMES IN KRIO
Krio words manifest an elaborate system of syllable structure e...
1) [ i ] Front un-rounded high close vowel
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Sound Final

it (food/to eat)

Tik (stick)

Pati (...
5) [

] Back rounded half open vowel

Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Sound Final

p t (pot)

mΣzh

m le (local alcohol)

w d...
Limba, so there is an intervening vowel after every consonant. Generally, pure vowels or
mnophthongs do not occur at word ...
4) [ a ] Central low open vowel
Sound Initial

Sound Final

hati (child)

foma (all)

kpaku (chief

punka (able)

kasi (ta...
4.1.3.3 OCCURRENCE PATTERNS OF PURE VOWEL PHONEMES IN MENDE
Words in Mende generally manifest a consonant – vowel (CV) str...
He/she/it (negative) rice eat
He/she/it does not eat rice
6) ΣΣ nyii flo
He/she/it (negative) write fast
He/she/it will no...
bΣki (sac)

mΣ (to eat)

fΣlei (winnower)

makΣ (to bring up/rear)

Sembei (hut)

sΣlΣ (banana)

Sound Medial

Sound Final...
juma (Friday)

vonu (last year)

hunti (to mix)

k lu (iron)

huma (to steal/measure)

kuulu (accept)

4.1.3.4 OCCURRENCE ...
Fer (to drum)
Mer (to swallow)
Leŋ (to sing)

3) [ Σ ] Front un-rounded half open vowel
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Sound...
dor (hunger)
for (to gossip)
pol (to clap)

7) [ u ] Back rounded high close vowel
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Sound Fina...
Limba, Mende and Themne rarely manifest vowel phonemes in sound initial position in words.
Krio abundantly manifests all p...
[ay]
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Sound Final

ayd (to hide

fayn (fine)

kray (cry)

aydul (idle)

sayd (side)

lay (to l...
3) [ y]
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Sound Final

Kut yti (church)

Ad y (to labour)

Th yo (python)

4) [ay]
As in
Athay ...
Due to the high tonality of the language, words can only be understood when individual
phonemes are accorded the right ton...
15) [ a] as in t)a (saw)
16) [oe] as in koe (to find)
17) [oa] as in foa (to reach)
18) [oi] as in soi {horse)
19) Ei [ as...
Tey (to stop), ukey (a thief), they (rotten)

In sum Krio manifests three diphthongs that can occur at sound initial, medi...
1) [p] Voiceless bilabial plosive
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Paynt (pint)

 spitul (hospital)

Sound Final
Abop (to rel...
5) [g] Voice velar plosive
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Sound Final

Gem (game)

Agidi (a food)

Beg (to beg

g t (gut)

B...
Gbana (stubborn)

Agbara (running water)
Yagba

The labio velar plosives are hardly attested in sound final position of wo...
Doni (a load)

kpΣdΣ (impotence)

Duba (blessing)

Handa (your father)

Dama (hunt)

t ŋina (to show)

4) [t] Voiceless al...
7) [k] Voice velar plosive
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

k ra (to kill)

Banka (house)

Kasi (taboo)

Sound Final

Baka (me...
10) [n] Voiced alveolar nasal plosive
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Sound Final

Nanda (your mother)

ŋayna (to keep)

ŋaye...
2) [b] Voiced bilabial plosive
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Bulu (trumpet)

Samba (basket)

Bafa (hut)

Jumbu (fur/hair)

...
6) [g] Voiced velar plosive
Sound Initial

Sound Medial

Genda (morning)

Taga (cassava)

gΣlΣ (to stop)

Ngegem

Gele (to...
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone
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A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone

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A Phonetic Study of four Languages in Sierra Leone

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A Contrastive Analysis of Phonemes in the four National Languages of Sierra Leone

  1. 1. CHAPTER ONE 1.0 BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION The study of Sierra Leonean languages as first languages dates as far back as the nineteenth century, when Christian missionaries attempted to use Sierra Leonean languages as a medium for preaching the gospel. This attempt was in view of the fact that, the Holy Bible was primarily written in the language(s) of the European missionaries. The aim of the missionaries was to educate native Sierra Leoneans, so they could read and interpret the Bible in their various languages This attempt was made on various frontiers; first Sierra Leonean languages were introduced in the education system, this, initially aroused negative sentiments among the natives who thought their native languages must be learnt alongside English ’the white man’s language’ as this would consequently also prepare them for state functions. White missionaries also paved the way into the study of the native’s languages; many of them wrote books analyzing or rather attempting to analyze Sierra Leonean languages. Amongst them Koelle (1854); usually considered to be the first attempt at analyzing African languages, followed by works of C.F Schlenker, F.W.H Migeod, A.T Sumner, A.A Wilson, H.Sawyerr and others all white Christian missionaries .This sudden interest in native Sierra Leonean languages led to the establishment of the Provincial Literature Bureau in 1946. The present national languages of Sierra Leone; Krio, Limba, Mende and Themne which, by the dictates of the present 6-3-3-4 or rather 6-3-4-4 education system should be taught throughout the school system, teacher colleges and universities were implemented as ’national languages’ in 1978 within the framework of the national language policy proposed by the Dalby report. The
  2. 2. utilization of national languages in the education system thus started in 1978. The Dalby report took into consideration the demographic and sociological importance of the four languages, amongst other factors to arrive at its conclusive report. At the time, the Krio language functioned as a National lingua franca spoken throughout the country, the Themne language was the predominantly spoken first language and regional lingua franca in most of northern Sierra Leone, The Mende language was the predominantly spoken first language and the regional lingua franca in most of southern Sierra Leone, The Limba language was third in demographic importance and of high sociological value in the north west of the country. Presently, according to a 2008 report, Themne is spoken as a first language by 35% of the total Sierra Leonean population, Mende by 31%, Limba by 8% and Krio by around 4%, but understood by 90% of the population. In sum, the national languages of Sierra Leone were, and still are a true reflection of the predominant linguistic situation in Sierra Leone. This work is a contrastive analysis of phonemes in the four national languages of Sierra Leone (Krio, Limba, Mende, and Themne). The focus of this research is to delve into the nature of phonemes in the four languages and determine their divergences if any. A thorough examination of their existing relationships will also be made. An illumination of these relationships and consequently divergences would subscribe to linguistic knowledge, which will in turn help policy makers on language education etc. This research is going to be carried out by the use of libraries and archives. 1.1 PROBLEM STATEMENT The inventory of phonemes used in a particular language is unique and would not be the same inventory of phonemes used in another language, Sierra Leonean languages, thus the four national languages are no exception. Under general conditions a native speaker of Mende will use the alveolar lateral / l /, to replace the fluid or frictionless continuant / r / in speech, similarly so, a native speaker of Themne will use the voiceless alveo-palatal fricative / sh / in place of the voiceless alveolar fricative / s /.Limba also lacks the voiced alveo-palatal affricate /j / which is approximated by the palatal semi-vowel / y /.Krio almost lacks the glottal fricative / h /, the interdental / th /, and the voiced alveo-palatal fricative / zh / are rarely used. It can thus be posited that
  3. 3. there are variations in the phonemes of the four languages. This research most importantly seeks to prove and clarify these divergences, and further explore the nature of these divergences. 1.2 SCOPE OF THE STUDY This research is primarily going to exclusively explore the relationships between the phonemes of the four national languages of Sierra Leone, so as to ascertain their contrasts. However, some light is going to be shed on the parallels of these phonemes. This is going to be done through scrutiny of the phonetic system of each of the four languages independently, and later an attempt will be made at detecting divergences and to a small extent parallels. 1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES This research is aimed at disclosing the existing divergences in the phonemes of the four national languages of Sierra Leone in a view to reveal a holistic picture of the phonetic landscape of the languages in question. By the end of this research, the following would have been determined  The nature of phonemes in the four national languages of Sierra Leone( Krio, Limba, Mende and Themne)  That contrasts do occur in the phonetic systems of these four national languages.  The nature of these contrasts.  To a small extent the parallels of the phonemes of the four languages in question.  That the four national languages of Sierra Leone can be technically and linguistically analysed according to their phonetic structure. 1.4 THE SIGNIFICANCE AND JUSTIFICATION OF THIS STUDY.
  4. 4. This study would revolve around, not only the individual linguistic study of the particular language(s) as commonly done, but rather the nexus and interface of the four national languages of Sierra Leone, thus revealing dynamic relationships, departures and to a small extent parallels. This work follows the efforts of earlier writers on the topic and is ensured to serve as a reference for succeeding writers. This work would also enhance appreciation and prestige for the four national languages of Sierra Leone and help in ensuring the prevention of these languages from extinction. This study would be of significance to  Teachers and Students of Sierra Leonean languages who might want to get a’ big picture’ of the four national languages taught in Sierra Leone.  The Ministry of Education, and policy makers in the teaching and learning of indigenous languages especially in adult education  Any other individual who might want to appreciate the dynamic design of language(s) in Sierra Leone. 1.5 HYPOTHESIS The study is geared towards proving  That significant relationships do exist in the phonemes of the four National Languages of Sierra Leone.  That significant contrasts do exist in the phonemes of the four national languages of Sierra Leone.  That the phonetic systems of the four national languages of Sierra Leone can be analysed contrastively. 1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
  5. 5. As a native speaker of one of the languages and possessing a near native command of another, the researcher will use his linguistic knowledge together with the aid of libraries, archives and the internet to reach the proposed aim of this study The researcher will also collect specimen from native speakers of the four languages in question by way of either questionnaires or mini tape recorders. 1.7 LIMITATIONS Undertaking such an academic venture is no easy job and the researcher is aware of this fact and prepared to face the ensuing hurdles. Finance is a major impediment to the researcher and coupled with the unavailability of up-to-date materials and the high rate of subjectivity of most native speakers might jeopardize the accuracy and the objectivity of this work. However, as stated earlier, the researcher is on high alert, prepared to carry out this work with all seriousness, sobriety, intellectualism and a sense of commitment and accomplishment. 1.8 NATIONAL LANGUAGE POLICY IN SIERRA LEONE The national language policy was proposed by the Dalby report of 1978 and later explicitly detailed in a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (U.N.E.S.C.O) restricted technical report of 1981.This report was in harmony with an invitation from the government of Sierra Leone to advise the ministry of education on a policy concerning national language development, and especially their use in education. This report was also in adherence to the achievement of a number of objectives that had been agreed upon earlier by a substantial number of member-states of the Organisation of African Unity (O.A.U) now the African Union (A.U) including Sierra Leone. These objectives include  Recognition of the right of every citizen to have access to literacy and education through his/her mother tongue
  6. 6.  Promotion of mass literacy in the mother tongue of each linguistic community  Achievement of universal primary education through the medium of the mother tongue, and the introduction of the study of African languages and cultures at all subsequent levels of education  The use of African languages in the promotion of economic development, social justice, and social decolonization, all in the advance towards African unity The U.N.E.S.C.O report in a bid to achieve the above objectives outlined the following recommendations  The adoption of Krio, Limba, Mende and Themnε as national languages  The definition of African languages in the Sierra Leonean context to mean any language spoken predominantly by Sierra Leoneans within Sierra Leone.  The termination of improper terms for African languages inherited from the colonial past, terms like vernacular, tribal, local, indigenous, patois etc  The establishment of the institute of Sierra Leonean languages  The review and subsequent standardisation of all African languages spoken in Sierra Leone to suit contemporary circumstances and in harmony with the African reference alphabet established at a U.N.E.S.C.O sponsored inter-African meeting on orthographies(Niamey 1978, culled from Dalby 1981)  The sustained encouragement of literature in Sierra Leonean languages  The sustained encouragement of teachers in Sierra Leonean languages, and an illumination of their roles in pioneering the drive towards the appreciation of Sierra Leonean languages  The positive attitude of all citizens towards Sierra Leonean languages  The encouragement of Sierra Leonean languages by private companies and institutions  The revision and re-examination of teaching methods to do justice to all pupils
  7. 7.  The termination of the so-called verbal aptitude tests in the National Primary School Examination (N.P.S.E), and the immediate introduction of a system that is as Dalby (1981) puts it “ less biased to English speaking pupils”  The adoption of Mandinka as a regional lingua franca for the Mano River States (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and recently Cote d’ivoire) and consideration for its use throughout West Africa  The adoption of Mende and Themne (being the most widely spoken first languages ) as official languages alongside English  The role of the print and electronic media in championing the national language campaign  The role of the Fourah Bay College (F.B.C) as the premier of education in Sierra Leone in researching and promoting studies in Sierra Leonean languages The national language policy has exhibited more disadvantages than advantages, for one fact it led to the rapid expansion of national language education, however, this expansion should be credited to local and international non-governmental organizations (N.G.Os) like C.U.S.O People’s Educational Association (P.E.A) and other similar bodies. Most parts of the policy were never executed. J. Sengova in his work The National Languages of Sierra Leone; A decade of policy implementation (1987) observes that “the recommendations and proposals of the Dalby report concerning the implementation of a national language policy for Sierra Leone have seen practical implementation as well as some degree of experimentation in formal and non-formal education. In short, the bare bones of this experimental framework are illuminated by practice” 1.9 KRIO; AN INTRODUCTION OF THE LANGUAGE AND THE PEOPLE The Krio language is an English-based Creole that developed directly or indirectly from The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. This trade eviscerated the cultural, social and linguistic structure of Africa and disseminated its people between two distinctly
  8. 8. linguistic and socio-cultural continents i.e. Europe (primarily England) and the Americas. This unfortunate synthesis lead to a linguistic barrier between the slaves (Negros from Africa) and their slave masters, Such a linguistic situation led to the emergence of Krio, initially, a rudimentary form of language characterised by the juxtaposition of workable lexical items in the language of the slave masters (superstrate) with a combination of structural forms in the African languages of the slaves (substrates), thus forming a pidgin. Krio, as all other pidgins served both as a nexus and a rendezvous, bridging the linguistic, and to some extent the social and cultural gap between the slaves and their slave masters. In 1772, a protracted legal battle between a slave James Somerset and his slave master ignited a lot of humanitarian reactions which finally led to the declaration of the abolition of slavery in 1807 in England and in 1808 in the Americas. The population of London the capital of England then swelled with what became known as the ‘black poor’ (slaves who had automatically received freedom by virtue of the declaration of the abolition of slavery).The black poor were unemployed, homeless, starved and generally frustrated that the freedom that had been accorded them had in fact taken them a mile deeper into ‘hell’. Gradually they became a menace, Spitzer 1974 describes them as ‘a black African lumpen-proletariat surviving mainly by begging’. In time, they started agitating for their return to ‘sweet Africa’ and were helped in this venture by renowned anthropologists like Thomas Clarkson, Granville Sharpe, William Thornton, William Wilberforce and others who secured a spot in present day Freetown for their repatriation and resettlement. Finally in 1787, about 400 black poor arrived in Freetown, this was followed by other groups of freed slaves; the nova scotians in 1792 and the maroons in 1800. Spitzer maintains that Freetown had become a point of liberation for freed slaves. The fourth and largest group; the recaptives (slaves who had been captured en-route to Europe and the Americas) started settling in Freetown in 1800. With such a wide linguistic spectrum in Freetown, the initial pidgin brought by the ‘black poor’ was then expanded and this gradually evolved into present day krio. The recaptives were particularly important in the development of the language. According to Spitzer “unlike the ‘black poor’, maroons, and nova scotians, who had been detribalised and partially Europeanised,
  9. 9. the recaptives had very little contact with Europeans or European culture and spoke an array of west African languages including Yoruba, Hausa, twi, efik and Wolof”. These languages, together with the languages of surrounding peoples (Mende, Themnε, Fula, Susu, Mandingo etc) and the initial pidgin then amalgamated, evolved and developed into what we know as krio today. Today, Krio is spoken in one capacity or another by over 85% of the population of Sierra Leone .It is usually acquired simultaneously with other languages in the country, this is because krio has somehow acquired a status as a lingua franca that linguistically and even socially unites peoples of different ethnic groups in Sierra Leone. However, there is a small group of about 65,000 native speakers who distinctly identify themselves as krios. They regard themselves as the direct descendants of the freed slaves that settled in Freetown in the 1780s, 90s, and 1800s. They live predominantly in the environs of Freetown including waterloo, Gloucester, Leicester, York, Kent, and Regent. They are mainly farmers and fishermen. There is also another small group known as akus or frobes who regard themselves to be the descendants of the recaptives especially the Yoruba, they live predominantly in the Fourah bay and Fula town communities in central Freetown. The source book for four Sierra Leonean languages (1999) identifies four dialects of krio viz i. Village krio ii. Freetown (frit ŋ) krio iii. Fourah bay (frobe) krio iv. Provincial (uplayn) krio The village krio is understood to be the purest Krio, it is spoken predominantly in the peripherals of Freetown by people who regard themselves as the descendants of the freed slaves. Freetown krio is generally krio spoken predominantly in Freetown, it varies slightly from the village krio. The aku or frobe krio is spoken predominantly by a distinct group of speakers who identify themselves as akus or frobes and claim or rather are the descendants of the recaptives. This variety of krio is tinted by a lot of Islamic words, reflecting the predominant religion of the frobes. The provincial krio accounts for the high level of speakers of the language as it is spoken
  10. 10. by people of different ethnic backgrounds who use krio as common language. This variety is usually heavily tinted with words from the immediate language, this is based on region, thus in the southern region it may be tinted by Mende, and by Themne in the northern region. However, the dialects of Krio enjoy a high level of mutual intelligibility. 1.10 LIMBA; AN INTRODUCTION OF THE LANGUAGE AND THE PEOPLE The Limba language generally has suffered from a lack of interest from linguistic writers, the British anthropologist Ruth Finnegan in her book A survey of the Limba people of northern Sierra Leone observes that “ in general the limbas have been looked down on by other tribes... and have been considered backward or stupid”. Correspondently, little interest has been taken in them by European writers and researchers. As a result very little is known of the origin and history of the limbas and thus their language. However, Finnegan 1965:144 maintains that the limbas consider themselves as the original inhabitants of the country, and that they did not migrate into Sierra Leone, but had originally settled in the Wara Wara Mountains of Koinadugu district in the north-east of Sierra Leone. This claim is substantiated by the fact that the limbas themselves can only take genealogy up to four or five generations. In contrast, M cculloch 1950:51 suggests they migrated into Sierra Leone from the mountainous Futa Jallon region in present day republic of Guinea This migration into Sierra Leone is believed to have been ignited by the combative and militant nature of their northern neighbours in Futa Jallon; the Susu, Yalunka, Fula and Mandingo. Generally, as a peaceful and predominantly patient people, the limbas avoided confrontation by moving southwards into the Wara Wara Mountains. Even in this seemingly ‘safe haven’ they had to contend with constant attacks from neighbours (The Susu, Yalunka, Fula and Mandingo in the north and the Loko and Themnε from the south) who wanted to exploit the peaceful nature of the limbas. In response to the attacks and to ensure their survival, the limbas went on the offensive and conquered lands around the Wara Wara Mountains, lands which till date are inhabited predominantly by the limbas. Today, Limba is spoken as a first language predominantly in the Bombali, Tonkolili, Kambia and Koinadugu districts and all over the country by over one million people who occupy an area of
  11. 11. roughly 18,000 square miles, accounting for over 35% of the population of Sierra Leone (1983 census), making them the third largest ethnic group in the country. The Limbas are mostly subsistent farmers growing rice, groundnut, cassava, potatoes, millet and maize. They are also known for their love of palm wine (mampa) which is very popular amongst them. Limba settlements are divided into kinship groups, each having a village of its own surrounded by its farmland. Limba consists of twelve varieties encapsulated in four regional dialects viz  The th nk variety spoken mainly in the th nk k chiefdom in the Kambia district, Sanda Magbolonto chiefdom in the Port Loko district and most parts of Sεla chiefdom in the Bombali district.  The Wara Wara variety spoken mainly in the Bafodia and Yakala chiefdoms in the Koinadugu district.  The Biriwa variety is spoken mainly in the Biriwa and Kasonko chiefdoms in the Bombali and Koinadugu districts respectively.  The Safr k Limba spoken in the Safr k chiefdom in the Bombali district and parts of the Tonkolili district. The dialectal variations in the Limba language is partly due to fact that the Limbas are surrounded predominantly by at least six ethnic groups each with a district language viz the Susus, the Yalunkas, the Fulas, the Korankos, the Lokos and the Themnes. The dialects however do enjoy a high level of mutual intelligibility as Dumbuya K.M.S (1975) observes that “There are however no clear cut boundaries between dialects and Limba may best be described as a large dialect cluster with fussing boarders” Joseph Greenberg (1963) in his attempt to classify African languages classified Limba as a West Atlantic Language belonging to the Niger-Congo family. Westerman and Bryan (1957) further sub-classify Limba to belong to the Kissi-Lamdoma sub group. However, Welmers (1971) subclassified Limba as a southern Mande Language within the West Atlantic group. Further Dalby (1966) reclassified Mande languages and classified Limba as a Mel language. 1.11 MENDE; AN INTRODUCTION OF THE LANGUAGE AND THE PEOPLE
  12. 12. The Mende language as we know it today somehow came to be in Sierra Leone as a result of Mande invasions that swept across West Africa in the mid sixteenth century. These invading people were definitely of Mande origin and stock (Abraham 2003:18). Two accounts exist of the causes of their movement. One account depicts that they broke off from a Mande civilisation in the ancient empire of Mali, the other account says they were driven by Fulani herdsmen. However Migeod (1919) dates their presence in Sierra Leone as far back as the second century A.D. whatever the case may be, they somehow settled in the cape mount region in present day Liberia where they used as a base for attacks into Sierra Leone. Later, they thrust into Sierra Leone where they encountered and conquered the Sherbros, the Bulloms etc. By 1656 the Mende language and identity as an ethnic group had appeared on a European map (Abraham 2003). Their military surge continued until they were halted by the Limbas and Yalunkas. According to Abraham, the Lokos who share linguistic and cultural affinities with the Mende were part of the original mane force that invaded Sierra Leone, but somehow, for some reason split and marched northwards, where they encountered and were halted by the Themnεs in about 1550. Today Mende is spoken by over one million people who inhabit about 12,000 sq miles, either as a first language or as a regional lingua franca in the south, south-eastern and south-western regions of Sierra Leone and also across the border around the cape mount region in Liberia. Of the 149 chiefdoms in Sierra Leone, Mende is spoken predominantly in about 70 chiefdoms in the Bo, Bonthe, Moyamba, Pujehun, Kailahun and Kenema districts. The Mendes are mainly hunters, and farmers who grow cash crops like cocoa, coffee, and oil palm. The first attempt at formalising the orthography of the language was in a consonant-vowelconsonant syllabery called the ki-ka-ku developed by Kissimi Kamara in 1921. The syllabery contained 195 symbols. However, the ki-ka-ku was later replaced by the universal Latin symbols used today Mcculloch 1950 identifies three dialects in Mende  Kpaa Mende; constitutes 20% of the Mende population and inhabit 16 chiefdoms in the south-west.
  13. 13.  SΣwa Mende; constitutes 35% of the Mende population and is spoken primarily along the SΣwa river  K Mende; constitutes 55% of the Mende population and is spoken in the south and south-east However, other writers like Arthur Abraham acknowledge the existence of a fourth dialect called the Wanjama Mende, which is half way between the SΣwa and K dialects. This research will duly accord the Wanjama variety the status of a dialect, and be treated as all other dialects. Two accounts exist for the classification of the language. Greenberg 1963 classifies Mende as a non-Manding language of the Niger-Congo group of languages. This classification highlights the language’s affinity with Loko spoken in Sierra Leone, Loma and Kpelle spoken in Liberia and Soninke spoken in Mali. Welmers (1971) reclassified Mende as a south-western Mande language. This classification also highlights Mende’s affinity with Mandingo etc 1.12 THEMNΕ; AN INTRODUCTION OF THE LANGUAGE AND THE PEOPLE The Themnε people and thus their language migrated into Sierra Leone from Futa Jallon in present day Guinea a very long time ago. This migration was a direct result of a dispute between the susus and the mandinkas further north. In about 1233, a religious war broke out between the predominantly Muslim mandinkas and the non-Muslim susus. The mandinkas wanted to subdue the susus and convert them into Islam, this was vehemently rejected by the susus, a conflict ensued in which the mandinkas emerged victorious. This forced the susus to flee southwards in search of a new settlement. Moving southwards they encountered the Themnεs together with other ethnic groups like the Kissi, Bullom, Gola, Krim, Lamdoma and possibly the Limba in the Futa Jallon region. Subsequently, they clashed with the Themnεs and the Themnεs too moved southwards into present day northern Sierra Leone, where they predominantly occupy till date Today, Themnε is spoken predominantly in the Tonkolili, Kambia, Port Loko, and Bombali districts in northern Sierra Leone, and the people constitute 32% of the population of Sierra
  14. 14. Leone (2004 population census), inhabiting 10,000 to 11,000 sq miles to the west coast (Schlenker 1864), eastwards themneland stretches all the way to Kono district. The Themnes are mostly farmers, hunters and fishermen. Themne contains five dialects (Dalby 1962), each conditioned by direct interaction with proximate linguistic, social and cultural factors. These factors are usually manifested in distinct languages, as in the case of Themne which is surrounded by at least eight different languages including Limba, Koranko, Fula, Mende, Kono, Mandingo and Susu. The dialects are;  Western Dialect; which is subdivided into the north-western variety spoken predominantly in the Samu, Magbema and Dixing chiefdoms in the Port Loko district and also around the Freetown peninsula, and the Sanda variety spoken in the buya Romende chiefdom in the Port Loko district and the Sanda Tandaraŋ and Gbanti Kamaranka chiefdoms in the Bombali district  The Yoni dialect; spoken mainly in the Yonibana chiefdom in the Port Loko district and the Gbonkolenken, Kaffu Bullom, Marforki and Marampa-masimera chiefdoms in the Port Loko district.  The Bombali dialect spoken mainly in the Makari, Gbanti and Bombali Shebora chiefdoms in the Bombali district, and also in the Masongbala chiefdom in the Kambia district  The Eastern Konke dialect; spoken in the Konke, Fulawoso and Konke Barina chiefdoms in the Tonkolili district.  The Western Konke dialect; spoken in the Tane and Kholifa-Mamuntha-Rowala chiefdoms in the Tonkolili district. Greenberg (1963) classifies Themne as a West Atlantic language belonging to the Niger-Congo Family. West Atlantic languages also include Wolof spoken in Senegal and Gambia, Fula and Mandingo spoken all over West Africa and Limba spoken in Sierra Leone. In a sub-classification by Dalby (1966), Themne was sub-classified as Mel language belonging to the southern branch of the West Atlantic languages. Themne was later re-classified by Welmers (1971) as a northern Mande language of the West Atlantic Family. This reclassification established Kono, Koranko,
  15. 15. Mandingo, Susu, Vai, Yalunka, Fula, Bage and other Bantu languages in central, south and east Africa as sister languages of Themne CHAPTER TWO 2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW- INTRODUCTION The literature review of this work is going to be an insight into the works of reputable authors on the phonetics and sound systems of the four target languages. This will be, by virtue of a scrutiny of the works in an attempt to identify flaws and to present a personal viewpoint. This chapter will also examine general phonetic phenomena and how far they correspond to the languages in question. 2.1 PHONETICS PHONOLOGY AND THE PHONEME These three concepts are inseparable i.e. phonetics being the study of speech sounds, Phonology the study of speech sound patterns, and the phoneme being their fundamental constituent unit. However, for a thorough examination of the phoneme as phonetic concept an understanding of phonetics and phonology is of considerate significance. Generally, as the overall scientific study of speech sounds, phonetics comprises three fields; 1) Articulatory Phonetics: This deals with the study of speech sounds in relation to articulatory organs and the processes involved. 2) Acoustic Phonetics: This deals with the study of speech sounds in relation to the sound waves generated by speaking and their transmission through the air.
  16. 16. 3) Auditory Phonetics: This deals with the study of speech sounds in relation to the organ of hearing, the perception of speech sounds and the psychology of the perception of speech sounds. Nonetheless, this study will focus on articulatory phonetics. Attention should also be given to phonology which as a field of study goes beyond the identification of speech sounds (phonetics) into the dynamic combinational tendencies of speech sounds and the intricate speech sound patterns of languages. The scientific base for phonology is that a speech sound is largely influenced by its environment. i.e. speech sounds are environmentally conditioned. In sum, although phonetics and phonology are inextricably related, they can be dichotomized by the fact that phonetics which is the scientific study of speech sounds forms a base for phonology which is the study of the sound patterns of languages. Several linguists have tried to define the two concepts. Francis Katamba in his work an introduction to phonology (1989:1) suggests that “phonetics is the study of the inventory of all speech sounds human beings are capable of producing… since not all noises, which we are capable of producing with our vocal apparatus are employed in speech” This definition draws a clear line between speech sounds and human noises. However, Katamba focuses on articulatory phonetics and ignores acoustic and auditory phonetics. Loreto Todd in her work Introduction to Linguistics (1987:13) defines phonetics as “The study of the production, transmission and reception of Speech Sounds”. This definition in all its brevity captures the phenomenon. Its crux is on the perspectives from which speech sounds can be studied i.e. Articulatory, Acoustic and Auditory Phonetics. In relation to Phonology, George Yule in his work The study of Language (1996:44), defines phonology as “Essentially the description of the systems and patterns of speech sounds in a language”. This definition, at first sight seems convincing as its presumes the organizational nature of speech sounds to form words, thus segmental phonology, however, it fails to capture the phenomenon of supra-segmental phonology.
  17. 17. A more comprehensive definition of phonology is derived from Nikolai Trubetzkoy in his work Gründ Zuger der Phonologie (1939:10). He states that “The task of phonology is to study which differences in sounds are related to differences in meaning in a language, in which way the discriminative elements are related to each other and the rules according to which may be combined into words and sentences” This definition clearly affirms the functional role of speech sounds, and how they distinguish words of different meaning. This definition also highlights the rules that can be applied in the formation of words using speech sounds. From the preceding definitions, it is obvious that phonetics and phonology are distinct, irrespective of parallels. This distinction is brought to the fore by this opinion from the leader of the Prague School of Phonology Nikolai Trubetzkoy (1939:4). “… the study of sounds pertaining to the act of speech (phonetics) which is concerned with concrete physical phenomenon and would have to use the methods of the natural science, while the study of sounds pertaining to the system of language (phonology) would use only the methods of linguistics or the humanities or the social sciences”. Trubetzkoy locates phonetics as a study outside the domain of linguistics proper, whilst identifying phonology as an autonomous linguistic discipline. This draws parallel with the opinion of Roger Lass in his work Phonology; An Introduction to the Basic Concept (1989:1). “Phonology proper is concerned with the function, behaviour and organization of sounds as linguistic items as opposed to phonetics, which is rather a neutral study of sounds” Nonetheless, the two concepts are complementary to each other and it can be safely posited at this stage, that no language can be properly analyzed without a clear understanding of the concepts of phonetics and phonology which are inextricably related. In as such, Ladefoged in his work Preliminaries to Linguistic Phonetics (1971) asserts that
  18. 18. “The first requirement for a phonetic description of a language is a good account of phonology. It is also true that in order to describe the phonology, one needs to know the phonetics. The two things go hand in hand providing us with a chicken and egg problem as to which must come first. Obviously they actually evolve together. But it is usually phonological knowledge the precedes detailed phonetic observation”. Speech sounds are diverse and varied and a language draws from among audible sounds capable of been produced by humans. In as such a language must utilize only some of all the sounds humans are capable of producing. This assertion is augmented by R.H. Robbins in his work General linguistics; An Introductory study “Languages must organize the available noises that can be produced by the vocal organs into recurrent bits and pieces arranged in recurrent patterns”. Consequently, every language has an inventory of speech sounds which is different from other languages. Significantly, based on the level of interference with the air stream from the lungs, human speech sounds in generative phonology in as much as traditional phonology are divided into two broad categories; 1) Vowels: These are produced with little or no obstruction of the air stream 2) Consonants: These are produced with noticeable obstruction in the air stream. A clear cut definition of a vowel valid to all languages is very difficult to arrive at, however a satisfactory definition would be from the British phonologist Daniel Jones, who defined a vowel as “A voiced sound in forming which the air issues in a continuous stream through the Pharynx and mouth, there being no obstruction and no narrowing such as would cause audible friction” (culled from R.H. Robbins). Vowels are difficult to describe accurately and their production can only be observed by x-ray photography and laryngoscopes. However, vowel sounds are described and labeled in relation to two principal factors:
  19. 19. 1. The position of the tongue that is raised or the height of the tongue in the mouth 2. The shape of the lips. In relation to the height or the position of the tongue in the mouth, it can be kept low in the mouth or raised in varying degrees in the front towards the hard palate, or in the back towards the soft palate, as such four degrees can be identified. 1. Open: The tongue is lowest or lies flat in the mouth 2. Mid open: The tongue is raised to about 2/3 of the distance from the highest to the lowest possible positions. 3. Mid-close: The tongue is raised to about 1/3 of the distance from the highest to the lowest possible position. 4. Closed: The tongue is closest to the roof of the mouth. Consequently, the front, centre or back of the tongue is raised to achieve the degrees resulting in front, centre or back vowels. The lips can also be rounded or spread both in varying degrees or the can be neutral (not rounded nor spread), in as much, five degrees can be recognized. 1) Spread Position: Lips are held apart, but still close together and spread out. 2) Neutral Position: Lips are relaxed with the lower jaw slightly lowered. 3) Open Position: Lips are wide open without any rounding. 4) Closed Round Position: Lips are slightly open and rounded. 5) Open Round Position: Lips are held wide apart and rounded. Traditionally, vowel description is captured and formalized in an irregular quadrilateral for phonemic languages and an inverted triangle for phonetic languages (These will be discussed later in this chapter) with plotted vowel qualities as the ones shown below.
  20. 20. Front Centre Back Close Mid-close Mid-open Front Centre Back Close Mid-close Mid-open Open Open It is also worthy of note that vowels can be produced almost simultaneously i.e. the tongue moves from one vowel position to another thus resulting in diphthongs. All vowels are voiced. Consonants are a lot easier to describe than vowels, as their production involves noticeable obstruction of the air stream and can be readily perceived. R.H. Robbins in his work General Linguistics; An Introductory Survey (P. 85) aptly defines a consonant as “a segmental speech sound other than a vowel” Three factors can be referred to in the production of consonants and thus their labelling. 1) Place of Articulation 2) Manner of Articulation 3) Voicing 2.2 PLACE OF ARTICULATION The place of Articulation as a consonant labelling term refers to the location in the mouth where the obstruction or total constriction of the air stream that characterizes a consonant sound occurs. More clearly, it refers to the organs of speech used in producing consonants. This obstruction is caused by one ore more of the biological cum linguistic organs referred to as articulators in the oral cavity. In as much, the following types can be referred to.
  21. 21. When the obstruction involves the two lips coming together to form a blockage, the resulting sound is a bilabial. This is evidenced in the initial sounds of the words pat, bat, mat, in English. When a sound is formed with the lower lip being raised to come into contact with the upper teeth, the resultant sound is a labio-dental (from labio meaning lip and dental meaning teeth in English). Labiodentals sounds include the initial sounds in the English words fan, van. The production of some speech sounds involves contact or at least the approximation of the tip of the tongue and the hard palate or the alveolar ridge. These sounds are called dentals. The term “Interdental” is sometimes used for sounds produced with the tip of the tongue between the upper and lower teeth. Examples include the initial sounds in thin and that. Alveolars: These are produced as the tongue is raised to approximate the roof of the mouth. These include the initial sounds in delay, tin, zinc and sin etc. Alveo-Palatals: These are produced with the tip and blade of the tongue being raised to approximate the alveolar ridge, typically the front part of the tongue is also raised to approximate the hard palate. Sounds produced in this way include the initial sounds in shoe, judge and church. Palatals: These speech sounds are formed by the front part of the tongue being raised to approximate the hard palate. Examples include the initial sound of yam. Velars: These are speech sounds produced with the back of the tongue being raised to approximate or contact the soft palate or velum. These include the initial sounds in kick and fang. Glottals: These are produced by a narrowing or a blockage made by the glottis. Examples include the initial sound in heart. 2.3 MANNER OF ARTICULATION The manner of Articulation as the name suggests refers to the various ways in which a consonant sound can be produced. The air stream from the lungs in its upward and outward journey comes
  22. 22. into contact with speech organs, in as much, Manner of Articulation as a consonant labelling parameter captures the behaviour of these speech organs when in the process of articulation. Consequently, the following can be referred to: Stops/Plosives: In the production of these sounds, the articulators briefly block the air stream completely, allowing air pressure to build up behind them, the articulators then abruptly give way resulting in an explosive release of the air. Examples include the following initial sounds in English boy, king, dog etc. Fricatives: These sounds are produced by a narrowing made by the articulators, the air stream is then forced through the narrow opening causing friction or frication examples are the initial sound in sack, venom etc. Affricates: The production of these sounds involve an initial blocking of the air stream by the articulators, this is followed by a gradual release of the air. In essence, affricates are a combination of plosive and fricative features. Examples are the following initial sounds in chin, gym etc. Nasals: These unlike most other consonant sounds that are produced orally, are produced through the nose. Typically, the soft palate or velum is lowered to open the nasal cavity and to block passage through the oral cavity, leaving the nasal cavity the only route for the air to escape. All nasals are voiced examples are the initial sounds in man, neck etc. Semi-vowels/Glides: These are consonant sounds produced by a mere approximation of the articulators. Their production is similar to high vowels and is therefore vowel like in some sense, aptly put semi vowels are phonetically like vowels, but phonologically like consonants. All semi vowels are voiced. They include the initial sounds in win, yet etc. Lateral: Lateral sounds are produced when the tongue approximates or makes contact with the roof of the mouth, thus blocking the air flow from moving centrally through the mouth, but rather diverting the air to escape through the sides of the tongue. Example of such a sound is late.
  23. 23. Frictionless Continuant: In the production of these sounds, the tongue is convex to the roof of the mouth, but there is no contact, the air is then diverted to escape through the sides of the tongue example Rat. 2.4 VOICING Voicing as a consonant distinction parameter is based on the activity of the vocal cords. The vocal cords can either vibrate during the forced passage of the air stream or otherwise. With regard to voicing several pairs of similarly articulated sounds can be distinguished in many languages. Two sets of consonants can be referred to. Voiced Consonants: These are produced when the vocal cords are held together tautly, and the air stream forces its way through them causing the vocal cords to vibrate. This vibration can be sensed by the fingers, when placed on the larynx. Examples of voiced sounds include all vowels and the following underlined sounds in English.[b] , [d], [g]. Voiceless Sounds: These on the other hand are produced when the vocal cords are held wide apart, allowing the air stream to flow freely through them. Example pot, tin, king, thin, sing, chief, shoe etc. It could thus be evidenced that all vowels are voiced, but consonants may be voiced or voiceless. With the parameters just discussed, speech sounds can be universally described, classified and labelled. With regard to the African, especially Sierra Leonean linguistic situation, reference must be made to pre-nasals and digraphs. A digraph is a general term for a speech sound represented by two symbols known as graphemes, pre-nasals on the other hand refer to consonants sounds consisting of a nasal and another consonant. E.g. mb, ny etc. these two features are widely attested in not only Sierra Leonean Languages but African languages as a whole. Haven created a solid base, I shall how build upon this foundation, my primary aim of research; the phoneme.
  24. 24. 2.5 THE PHONEME Phonology as discussed earlier in this chapter is based on the theory that every native speaker of a language unconsciously knows about the sound patterns of that language, thus phonology is actually concerned with the abstract or mental aspects rather than the actual physical articulation of the speech sounds in a language. From this perspective, it can be discerned that there are two levels of sounds; abstract sounds and the physical sounds we actually hear. Considering this, it can safely be posited that the abstract sounds allows speakers to distinguish meaning in the actual physical sounds we say. Each of these abstract meaning distinguishing sounds in a language is known as a Phoneme. So, in fact all speech sounds are phonemes or subsets of phonemes. A phoneme is defined from three perspectives namely: 1) The Phoneme as a phonetic/physical reality. 2) The phoneme as a phonological reality 3) The phoneme as psychological reality 2.5.1 THE PHONEME AS A PHONETIC/PHYSICAL REALITY The phoneme as a phonetic/physical reality can best be discussed with reference to the British phonologist Daniel Jones (1931:74). He defined a Phoneme as “A family of sounds in a given language, which are related in character and are used in such a way that no one member ever occurs in a word in the same phonetic context as any other member” This definition underlines the distributional and complementary properties of speech Sounds, that is, which sounds can occur at which positions within a word, and which sounds cannot occur
  25. 25. in which positions in a word. For example some sounds can be aspirated (pronounced with an extra puff of air) in word initial position in English. In as much, sounds (can occur anywhere within a word) or can be in restricted distribution (can only occur in particular contexts). Essentially, the assumption is that a phoneme can take different forms in different contexts. Each of these contextualized forms of a phoneme is known as an allophone. For example, the [p] in /spin/ and /pin/ are both allophones of the voiceless bilabial plosive [p]. Conclusively, from this perspective, a phoneme is regarded as a convenient label for a number of phonetic units and is viewed in terms of its distribution properties and thus its allophones. 2.5.2 THE PHONEME AS A PHONOLOGICAL REALITY The phoneme as a phonological reality is defined by the Russian Phonologist Nikolai Trubetzkoy (1939:36) as “a minimal unit that can function to distinguish meanings”. This definition underlines the linguistic philosophy of the Prague School of Phonology, of which Trubetzkoy together with Roman Jacobson are the most notable adherents. The Prague School was largely driven by the function of phonemes, as a result the above definition viewed a phoneme as the sum of the phonologically relevant properties of a sound, in other words, a phoneme functions as a contractive and oppositional parameter within a phonological system. Example [b] and [p] These are both bilabials and at the same time plosives, the distinctive feature in this pair of speech sounds is voicing i.e. [p] is voiceless and [b] is voiced. 2.5.3 THE PHONEME AS A PSYCHOLOGICAL REALITY The phoneme as a psychological reality is largely a mental or philosophical notion. A Polish linguist Jan Baudouin de Courtenay (1845-1929), a proponent of this view defined the phoneme as “The intention of the speaker or the impression of the hearer or both” (quoted in Twaddell 1935:36).Courtenay views the phoneme as a sound imagined or intended. This view was largely attacked and criticized by an American linguist William Freeman Twaddell (1906-1982 ) and Nikolai Trubetzkoy (1890-1938). Twaddell maintained that “such a view was invalid as humans
  26. 26. have no right to guess about the linguistic workings of an inaccessible mind” Trubetzkoy also maintains that “reference to psychology must be avoided in defining a phoneme which is a purely linguistic and not a psychological concept” Haven laid the foundation, I will now turn to thoughts, views suggestions and assertions on the phonemes of Krio, Limba, Mende and Themne by earlier writers. 2.6 EARLIER WRITERS ON THE PHONEMES IN KRIO, LIMBA, MENDE AND THEMNE The sourcebook for four Sierra Leonean languages (1993:16) states the following peculiarities of phonemes in Krio . 1) The voiceless glottal fricative [h] is rarely used except for emphasis as in hala instead of ala (shout) 2) The voiced palato alveolar fricative [zh] occurs only in a few words like plezh or mezh . 3) The voiceless dental fricative [th] occurs only in a few loan words or in the speech of educated speakers e.g. bathde, generally, it is usually substituted by the voiced labiodental fricative [f] e.g. bafrum instead of bathrum and the voiceless alveolar fricative [t] as in batrum instead of bathrum. Limba has a lot of dialectal discrepancies possibly due to the number varieties the language has (twelve in all). This claim is augmented by the sourcebook for four Sierra Leonean Languages (1993:67). “Note that (the voiceless labio-dental fricative) [f] and (the voiceless glottal fricative) [h] are used alternately depending on the dialect. While the Biriwa Limba cling to the [h] the safr limba cling to the [f]. k
  27. 27. Examples Biriwa Safr k Gloss Hati Fati Child Hintima Fintima Darkness The velar nasal [ŋ] also most often comes in final position preceeded by a vowel. Examples: Suŋ – fast Al ŋ – to close Kalaŋ – elder A.T. Sumner (1917) in his work A handbook of the Mende language asserts that. “The simple consonants are pronounced as in English, [g] is always heard as in go. Of the compound consonants [gb] and [kp] are the most difficult to pronounce, but are pronounced with one vocal impulse” In addition, The sourcebook for four Sierra Leonean Languages (1993:13) makes reference to dissimilar vowels in sequence which are diphongal in nature and function, and similar vowels in sequence. In relation to Themne, Fyle et al (1980) assert that “Themne phonology is phonetic, that is to say the words are spelt in exactly the same way they are pronounced” In addition, The sourcebook for four Sierra Leonean Languages (1993:175) asserts that “diacritics should be properly placed” as themne contains two central vowels[ å] and ]. The voiceless alveolar plosive [t] and the [ voiceless palato alveolar affricate [ch] are used as free variants before the vowels i, e and Σ, the
  28. 28. voiceless alveolar fricative [s] and the voiceless palato – alveolar fricative [sh] are also in free variance before the vowels i, e and Σ as illustrated overleaf: 1) [t] [ch] Gloss utik uchik Stranger tim chim To fight [S] [sh] Gloss sim Shim To break sel shel To laugh 2 Haven discussed the necessary prerequisite for my investigation into the phonemes of the four national languages of Sierra Leone, I shall now delve in my research proper.
  29. 29. CHAPTER THREE 3.0 PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY; A SIERRA LEONEAN PERSPECTIVE Speech sounds in the four national languages of Sierra Leone in particular and in other Sierra Leonean and African languages in generally are produced as all human languages. The fundamental vowel sounds i.e. [a], [i],[ u] are present in all Sierra Leonean languages, so are the fundamental consonants [p] and [t]. According to R.H. Robbins “The number of phonemes in any language… differs … but upper and lower limits of around fifty and fifteen have been calculated the most frequent count being around thirty”. Sierra Leonean Languages fall within that range All phonemes are represented as per the Latin script. The symbols in the orthographies represent only one phoneme. Such languages are said to be phonetic as opposed to phonemic languages like English which require a precise and unambiguous system of representing sounds to cater for the different sound variations of phonemes. Notably Sierra Leonean Languages manifest pre-nasals, nasals stops and digraphs which in most cases can be very difficult to articulate for non-Africans. 3.1 THE PHONEMES OF KRIO As discussed in chapter two every language has its own distinct speech sounds drawn from the total range of audible sounds humans are capable of producing. Phonetically, Krio consists thirty six sounds; ten vowels and twenty six consonants. The vowels comprise seven monophthongs or pure vowels and three diphthongs or impure vowels.
  30. 30. Considering the traditional vowel articulatory parameters labels such as front, back, etc vowels in Krio can be schematically represented thus: Front Close centre Back i u Half Close e Half open Open o a 3.1.1 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF KRIO PURE VOWEL PHONEMES GLOSSED IN ENGLISH 1) [ i ] Front un-rounded high closed vowel As in it (food/to eat), tik (stick), pati (party). 2) [ e ] Front un-rounded half closed vowel As in ebi (heavy), beg (to beg), de (day) 3) [ Σ ] Front un-rounded half open vowel As in Σp (help/to help), bΣt (to bite), bΣlΣ (pregnancy/stomach)
  31. 31. 4) [ a ] Central low open vowel As in an (hand), hat (heart/to hurt), bata (drum) 5) [ ] back rounded half open vowel As in rinch (orange), m t (mouth), w w (ugly) 6) [ o ] Back rounded half closed vowel As in ol (to hold/old), pol (pole), po (poor) 7) [ u ] Back rounded high closed vowel As in uk (hook), gud (good), tu (two) 3.1.2 A phonetic description of Diphthongs or Impure vowel Phonemes in Krio glossed in English A diphthong is a combination of a vowel and a vowel, or a vowel and a semi vowel articulated almost simultaneously. Krio consist three diphthongs as illustrated. 1) [ y ] As in yl (oil), b 2) [ ay ] As in yl (to boil), b y (young man)
  32. 32. ayd (to hide), kayt (kite), tay (to tie) 3) [aw] As in awtin (outing), krawd (crowd), kaw (cow) 3.1.3 CONSONANTS IN KRIO Consonants in krio include plosives, fricatives, nasals, semi vowels, digraphs, affricates and glides (the lateral and a frictionless continuant) phonetically, they can be described thus  Plosives 1) [ p ] Voiceless bilabial plosive As in paynt (pint), spitul (hospital), shap (shop) 2) [ b ] Voiced bilabial plosive As in bizi (busy), abop (to rely), sheb (share) 3) [ d ] Voiced Alveolar Plosive dak (dark), winda (window), bad (bad) 4) [ t ] Voiceless Alveolar Plosive As in taya (tire or to be tired), arata (rat), trit (street) 5) [ k ] Voiceless Velar Plosive
  33. 33. As in k p (cup), kotoku (purse), tik (stick) 6) [ g ] Voiced Velar Plosive As in g d d (god), agidi (a food), beg (to beg) 7) [ gb ] Voiced labio velar stop Attested in gbana (stubborn), agbara (running water) 8) [ kp ] Voiceless labio velar stop Attested in kpak (back of head), akpata (rock)  Fricatives 1) [ f ] Voiceless labio dental fricative As in fek (fake), alafia (peace), laf (to laugh) 2) [ v ] Voiced labio dental fricative As in vΣks (to be annoyed), fiva (fever), sav (to serve) 3) [ s ] Voiceless Alveolar Fricative
  34. 34. As in san (sun), plasas (sauce), sus (shoe) 4) [ z ] Voiced Alveolar Fricative As in ziro (zero), bizi (busy), briz (breeze) 5) [ sh ] Voiceless alveo-palatal fricative As in sheb (to share), kyash (coin) 6) [ zh ] Voiceless alveo-palatal fricative Attested in Plezh (pleasure) 7) [ th ] Voiceless dental fricative Attested in Bathde (birthday) 8) [ h ] Voiceless glottal fricative Attested in hawn hawn (greedy), wahala (trouble) Note: The voiceless glottal fricative is almost redundant in Krio as it can be almost always replaced by the central low open vowel [a]. However, it is used for emphasis as in hala versus ala (shout).
  35. 35.  Nasals 1) [ m ] Bilabial Nasal Attested in m toka (car), fambul (family), kam (to come) 2) [ n ] Alveolar nasal Attested in natin (nothing), lΣnt (to lent), ren (rain) 3) [ ŋ ] Velar Nasal Attested in siŋ (sing)  Semi Vowels 1) [ w ] Bilabial semi vowel Attested in winda (window), pawa (power), aw (how) 2) [ y ] Palatal Semi Vowel Attested in yala (yellow), taya (to be tired), bay (to buy)
  36. 36.  Pre-nasals 1) [ ny ] Pre-nasalized palatal Attested in ny lΣ (food for the dead), kanya (a food)  Glides 1) [ l ] Voiced alveolar lateral Attested in latrin (toilet), alaki (cursed), ol (hole) 2) [ r ] Voiced apico alveolar liquid Attested in rΣp (to be ripe), arata (rat), wΣr (to wear)  Affricates 1) [ ch ] Voicless alveo-palatal affricate Attested in cham (to chew), kech (to catch) 2) [ j ] Voiced alve-palatal affricate
  37. 37. Attested in jomp (to jump), ajo (kind gesture), ej (age) From the preceding, it can be discerned that Krio contains thirty six speech sounds; seven pure vowels, three diphthongs, six plosives, eight fricatives, three nasals, two semi vowels, three digraphs, two affricates, a lateral and a frictionless continuant. Note the sound position(s) of each phoneme. The basic syllable structure of Krio is complex, Jones 1980:46 suggests a vowel sandwiched by 1 to 3 consonants on each side. A vowel in Krio can constitute a syllable, however, the following configurations can be evidenced in the preceding data v, cv, ccv, cccv, vc, vcc, vccc, ccvc, cccvc, cvcc, cvccc, ccvcc and cccvcc. 3.2 THE PHONEMES OF LIMBA Limba phonetics is marred by a lot of controversies. Before now seventeen consonants were identified, S.E.B. Koroma (1999) argued in support of the occurrence of the voiceless labio velar stop [kp] in the language. Now and for the purpose of this research 40 phonemes will be identified in the language. These comprise pure vowels (monophthongs), impure vowels (diphthongs) and consonants. The Vowels are produced as detailed in chapter two and can be schematically represented Front Closed centre Back I Half close Half open u e o
  38. 38. open a 3.2.1 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF VOWELS IN LIMBA 1) [ I ] Front un-rounded high close vowel Attested in hiti (smoke), bΣti (bird), bisi (heap) 2) [ e ] Front un-rounded half closed vowel Attested in feŋ (fish), mpende (millet), sere (mud fish) 3) [ Σ ] front un-rounded half open vowel Attested in b lΣ (black), thΣrΣ (charcoal), yΣrΣmΣ (woman) 4) [ a ]central open vowel Attested in masala (God), sosa (star), kata (carry) 5) [ ] Back rounded half open vowel Attested in l pa (to stone), r ntima (nail), w th (viper) 6) [ o ] Back rounded half closed vowel Attested in rogba (to hide), boya (hide), konso (beans) 7) [ u ] Back rounded high closed vowel
  39. 39. Attested in huru (breeze), huyΣ (night, hunku (gun power) 3.2.2 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION ON IMPURE / DIPHTHONG PHONEMES IN LIMBA 1) [ ey ] Attested in hothey (young fish), husagbey (bitter cola) 2) [ Σy ] Attested in kuthΣy (in foot), bΣy (lice/something) 3) [ ay ] Attested in kay (farm), athay (to dry in the sun) 4) [ y] Attested in h y (rat), ad y (to labour) 5) [oy] Attested in kuthoy (a bone), boy (gold) 6) [ uy ]
  40. 40. Attested in Kumuy (housefly), afuy (to be far/ become plenty) 3.2.2 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF CONSONANT PHONEMES IN LIMBA Limba consonants comprise plosives, fricatives, nasals, semi-vowels, digraphs, pre-nasals, prenasals and glides (a lateral and a liquid). These are phonetically described thus:  Plosives/stops 1) [ b ] Voiced bilabial plosive Attested in bara (meat), yumba (wait) 2) [ p ] Voiceless bilabial plosive Attested in poro (noise), thampa 3) [ gb ] voiced labio-velar plosive Attested in gbusa (dig), hugbu (knee) 4) [ kp ] Voiceless labio-velar plosive Attested in kpala (write), kpΣgbΣ (knot), kpoyori (lock) 5) [ d ] Voiced Alveolar plosive Attested in
  41. 41. doni (a load), kpede (impotence) 6) [ t ] Voiceless Alveolar plosive Attested in taka (sheep), mΣti (town) 7) [ th ] voiced apico dental stop Attested in thara (to run), detha (to look), 8) [ k ] Voiceless velar plosive Attested in kora (to kill), raka (stone/rock) Note: Some writers suggest the existence and occurrence of the voiced velar plosive[g] in word medial positions, However, the voiceless counterpart [k] is more recognized and used in the sound system of the language. In fact both sounds seem to be allophones that operate on free variation terms since the substitution of one for another does not create a semantic change, Also the voiceless velar plosive, when in word medial position is pronounced like the voiced apico alveolar liquid [r] except if preceded by the alveolar nasal examples…banka (house) as against bara (meat) 9) [ m ] Voiced Bilabial nasal stop Attested in mala (to jump), kama (to dance)
  42. 42. 10) [ n ] Voiced alveolar nasal stop Attested in n ndi (truth), nine (to sleep), ntantan (anus) 11) [ ŋ ] Voiced velar nasal stop Attested in ŋΣna (shake/paddle), toŋa (to drop), dagbalΣŋ (shoes) Note: The dental sound [th] and the nasal sunds [m], [n] and [ŋ] are evidently produced like plosives, justifying their classification here as plosives.  Fricatives 1) [ f ] Voiceless labio dental fricative Attested in furu (breeze), afuy (become plenty) 2) [ s ] Voiceless alveolar fricative Attested in sobo (water well), bisi (heap) 3) [ h ] Voiceless glottal fricative Attested in hora (to clap), huhu (foofoo)
  43. 43. Note: The voiceless labio dental fricative [f] and the voiceless glottal fricative [h] are invariably used at word initial position without any semantic shift, the difference is attested in dialectal variations.  Semi Vowels 1) [ y ] Voiced palatal semi vowel Attested in yatha (to walk), niya (to do something) 2) [ w ] Voiced bilabial semi vowel Attested in wali (to work), dΣwa (to forge an iron)  Glides 1) [ l ] Voiceless Alveolar Lateral Attested in l ŋa (to lock/close), s la (to praise) 2) [ r ] Voiced apico alveolar liquid Attested in raka (a stone/rock), kurotho (a dove)  Pre-nasals
  44. 44. 1) [ mb ] Pre-nasalized voiced bilabial plosive Attested in mbompa (leaf), mboma (sickness) 2) [ mp ] Pre-nasalized voiceless bilabial plosive Attested in Mpati (children), mpende (millet) 3) [ mgb ] pre-nasalized voiced labio velar plosive Attested in Mgbindi (back) 4) [ nd ] Pre-nasalized voiced alveolar plosive Attested in Ndamba (yam), ndanka (a whip made from hides) 5) [ nk ] Pre-nasalized voiced velar plosive Attested in Nkumba (stream), nkanka (basket) 6) [ nt ] Pre-nasalized voiceless alveolar plosive Attested in Ntigi (gluttony), ntantan (anus) 7) [ nth ] Pre-nasalized apico dental plosive Attested in Nthantha (root), nthaatha (potatoes)
  45. 45. 8) [ns] Pre-nasalized voiceless alveolar fricative Attested in Nsoronsi (drainage) 9) [nl ] Pre-nasalized alveolar lateral Attested in Nloma (a rope) 10) [ ny ] Pre-nasalized palatal semi vowel Attested in Nyathiki (friend), nyara (thread) From the preceding pages, it can be discerned that Limba comprises seven Monophthongs or pure vowels, Six diphthongs or impure vowels. Eleven plosives, three fricatives, two semi vowels, two glides and ten pre-nasals totaling forty one speech sounds. The plosives include the labio velars [gb] and [kp] and the apico dental [th] which are evidently plosified in Limba. The voiceless labio dental fricative [f] and the voiceless labio-dental of [h] are used invariably depending on variational differences, so do the voiceless velar plosive [k] and its voiced counterpart [g]. The voiceless velar plosive [k] changes its pronunciation in word medial position to an apico alveolar liquid like sound, except if preceded by the alveolar nasal [n]. The basic structure of words in Limba is arranged in a consonant, vowel, consonant, vowel order (CVCV). So words in Limba typically start with consonants and end in vowels.
  46. 46. 3.3 THE PHONEMES IN MENDE Phonetically, Mende speech sounds are categorized into vowels and consonants. The vowels consist an elaborate system of vowel sequences. The consonants include plosives, fricatives, nasals, semi-vowels, affricates and pre-nasalized consonants. Mende like its sister languages Kpelle and Lorma, have a seven vowel system, these are systematically detailed below: Front Closed Centre Back I Half closed u e o Half Open Open a 3.3.1 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF VOWELS IN MENDE 1) [ I ] Front un-rounded high closed vowel Attested in Hinja (to pound), sani (bottle) 2) [ e ] front un-rounded half open vowel
  47. 47. Attested in Genda (morning), fe (to give) 3) [ Σ ] Front un-rounded half open vowel Attested in yΣlΣ (to laugh), sΣlΣ (banana) 4) [ a ] Centre low open vowel Attested in Nja (water), hota (stranger) 5) [ u ] Back rounded high closed vowel Attested in Huma (to measure or steal), kugba (warrior) 6) [ o ] Back rounded half open vowel Attested in Hota (stranger), ndopo (child) 7) [ ] Back rounded half open vowel Attested in k li (leopard), K l (iron) Note: Mende also consists an elaborate system double vowels which may be the same (elongated vowels) as in gii (think), puu (ten) etc or dissimilar (diphthongs) as in gai (to break), siΣ (thank)
  48. 48. etc.These will be discussed in chapter Four. The feature underlines the tonality of the language as the double vowels signal a particular tone. 3.3.2 PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF CONSONANTS IN MENDE  Plosives 1) [p] Voiceless bilabial plosive Attested in Poma (corpse), nΣp (to coax) 2) [b] Voiced bilabial plosive Attested in Bulu (trumpet), samba (basket) 3) [t] Voiceless alveolar plosive Attested in Taga (cassava), mita (spoon) 4) [d] Voiced alveolar plosive Attested in Doli (hook), konda (mortar) 5) [k] Voiceless velar plosive Attested in Koto (to fold), bΣki (sack) 6) [g] voiced velar plosive
  49. 49. Attested in genda (morning), ngegem (worker) 7) [kp] voiceless labio velar stop Attested in Kpaki (shoulder), hakpa (sauce made from leaves) 8) [gb] Voiced labio stop Attested in gboki (hip), kugba (warrior) 9) [m] Voiced bilabial nasala stop Attested in mΣ (to eat), ndiam (friend) 10) [n] Voiced alveolar nasal stop Attested nΣΣ (tongue), hunti (to mix) 11) [ŋ] Voiced velar nasal stop Attested in ŋanya (sand), ŋama (blood)  Fricatives 1) [f] voiceless labio dental fricative Attested in
  50. 50. faji (bucket), bafa (a hut) 2) [v] Voiced labio dental fricative Attested in Vonu (last year), kava (to cheat) 3) [s] Voiceless alveolar fricative Attested in Sani (bottle), yesu (Jesus) 4) [h] Voiceless glottal fricative Attested in hinje (to get up), maha (chief)  Semi Vowels 1) [w} Voiced bilabial semi-vowel Attested in Wa (to come), mbawa (soap) 2) [y] Voiced palatal semi vowel Attested in yΣlΣ (to laugh), faya (to scatter)  Glides
  51. 51. 1) [ l ] Voiced alveolar lateral Attested in Luma (to agree), mbala (sheep)  Affricate 1) [ j ] Voiced alveo-palatal affricate Attested in Jasa (thatch), hinja (to pound)  Pre-nasalized Consonants 1) [mb] Voiced bilabial pre-nasal Attested in Mba (rice), kamba (a grave) 2) [nd] Voiced alveolar pre-nasal Attested in Ndopo (child), hinda (something) 3) [ng] Voiced velar pre-nasal Attested in Ngolo (baboon), hingaa (men) 4) [nj] Voiced alveo-palatal pre-nasal Attested in
  52. 52. Nja (water, manja (a quarrelsome woman) 5) [ny] Voiced palatal pre-nasal Attested in Nyini (rat), faanyi (gari) In sum, Mende speech sounds consist seven pure vowels or monophthongs, eleven plosives, four fricatives, two semi-vowels, a glide (the lateral), an affricate and five pre-nasalized consonants to totalling thirty one phonemes. In addition to this, Mende also manifests double vowels; similar and dissimilar. Jusu 2003 puts their number at seven for similar double vowels and twenty for dissimilar double vowels. The basic syllable structure of Mende is in a consonant – vowel – consonant – vowel (CVCV) order. Typically, words in Mende start with consonants and end with vowels. Stops in Mende include the labio velars [kp], [gb] and the nasal stops [m], [n], [ŋ]. These like those in Limba are evidently plosified in Mende. 3.3 THE PHONEMES OF THEMNE Themne phonemes include vowels and consonants. Vowels include pure vowels or monophthongs and impure vowels or diphthongs. The consonants include plosive, fricatives, nasals, glides, semi vowels and affricates. Peculiarly, Themne consists nine vowels, these are schematically represented below: Front Closed Centre I u Half closed e o Half Closed Open Back a
  53. 53. 3.3.1 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF VOWELS IN THEMNE 1) [ I ] Front unrounded closed vowel Attested in Fisa (better), fi (to die) 2) [ e ] Front un-rounded half closed vowel Attested in Mer (to swallow), shel (to laugh) be (a contraction of the conjunction) bepi (if) 3) [ Σ ] Front un-rounded half opened vowel Attested in kΣra (message), ahakΣ (sin) 4) [a] Centre low open vowel Attested in Yak (to launder), ba (to have/to lay eggs) 5) [ ] Back rounded half open vowel Attested in wath (child), K nΣ (to go), åŋl k 6) [ o ] Back round half closed vowel Attested in (maybe/perhaps)
  54. 54. Kor (stomach), wol (to play) 7) [ u ] Back rounded closed vowel Attested in Utik (stranger), sum (darkness), fu (new/for nothing) 8) [ å ] Mid Central half open vowel Attested in Nånt (fire), åŋl k 9) [ (perhaps), bå (to lay eggs) ] Mid central half closed vowel Attested in Gb m (to pound), gb l (to sweep) 3.3.2 DIPHTHONGS OR IMPURE VOWELS 1) [ay] Attested in Fay (to slaughter), kay (young bush) 2) [åy] Attested in Kåy (to flog), påy (to prepare/to jump) 3) [ey] Attested in Key (thief), fey (hot)
  55. 55. 4) [ y] Attested in s y (Stealthily), th y (to burn) 5) [oy] Attested in Boy (succulent), foy (to float) 9) [uy] Attested in Kuy (alligator), tuy (ill/scarce) 3.3.3 CONSONANTS IN THEMNE Themne consonants include plosives, fricatives, nasals, glides, semi vowels and an affricate. These can be phonetically thus:  Plosives 1) [ p ] Voiceless bilabial plosive Attested in Pim (to pick), bepi (if), yep (to borrow) 2) [ b ] Voiced bilabial plosive Attested in Buk (to wash, åŋk biri (money), irab (an arab) 3) [ t ] Voiceless alveolar plosive
  56. 56. Attested in Tim (to fight), utik (a stranger), nånt (fire) 4) [ d ] Voiced alveolar plosive Attested in Der (to come), afidao (prayer for the dead) 5) [ gb ] Voiced labio velar stop] Attested in Gbasi (to take), kågbeŋ (bracelet) 6) [ k ] Voiced velar plosive Attested in Kimå (smoke), åhakΣ (Sin), yak (to launder or wash)  Fricatives 1) [ f ] Voiceless labio dental fricative Attested in Fål (to fly), nåfat (the iron), yif (to ask) 2) [ s ] voiceless alveolar fricative Attested in Sel (to laugh), dimsi (to wipe out/efface), lðmðs (to stone) 3) [ h ] Voiceless glottal fricative Attested in
  57. 57. hakΣ (sin), åharamu (sinful act) 4) [ sh ] voiceless palato-alveolar fricative Attested in Shel (to laugh) 5) [ th ] Voiceless apico-dental fricative Attested in This (knife), wath (child)  Nasals 1) [ m ] Voiced bilabial nasal Attested in Mun (to drink), lompi (straight), pim (to pick) 2) [ n ] Voiced alveolar nasal Attested in n k (dirt), m nΣ (poverty), ŋin (one/lone) 3) [ ŋ ] Voiced velar nasal Attested in ŋåt (to ascend) aroŋ (road)  Semi Vowels 1) [ w ] Voiced bilabial semi vowel Attested in
  58. 58. Wop (to hold), 2) [ y ] Voiced palatal semi vowel Attested in Yim (red), iyola (a rich man)  Glides 1) [ l ] Voiced alveolar lateral Attested in L m s (to stone), k li (to look), kal (to roast) 2) [ r ] Voiced apico alveolar liquid Attested in Ruma (cloth) aret (the sun), mar (to help)  Affricate 1) [ ch ] Voiceless alveo palatal affricate Attested in chΣp (to plant), uchick (a stranger) Phonemes in Themne total thirty four. This consist nine pure vowels or monophthongs, six diphthongs or impure vowels, six plosives, five fricatives, three nasals, two semi vowels, two glides and an affricate. Words in Themne can either start with a vowel or a consonant,and end in either too.
  59. 59. Haven independently examined the sound systems and the phonemes of the four languages. I now proceed to the climax of this research; the contrastive analysis of phonemes in the four languages. CHAPTER FOUR 4.0 INTRODUCTION Languages all over the world share basic commonalities, this highlights the essence of linguistics as the scientific study of languages. Linguistics assumes the existence of a universal underlying structure on which all human languages are built. Consequently, languages only differ superficially. It can be evidently said that all languages have vowels and consonants, lexical classes; especially nouns and verbs, a mechanism for asking questions and the same basic sentence structure. However, reference must be made to the extent to which languages differ. A language draws from the overall elements available and organizes them into a specific configuration. As such, some elements may be parallel to two or more languages. Thus, in sum, no two languages are completely the same, and the technique and tools used in analyzing one language may not be necessary used to analyze another. Conclusively, all languages require an independent investigation to reveal its features and structure. Generally, a phonetic analysis of languages would include the number of phonemes (monophthongs, diphthongs,consonants, as may be the case), in relation to the labelling terminology; the position of the tongue that is raised the height of the tongue or the shape of the lips for vowels and the place and manner of articulation for consonants example; number of monophthongs, number of diphthongs etc. Reference must also be made to the quality of the phonemes and more importantly to the behaviour of the phonemes e.g. where the occur in words, how they interact with neighbouring sounds etc. In relation to the four languages, the contrast is going to be done in three sections: 1) Pure Vowels/ Monophthongs 2) Impure Vowels? Diphthongs
  60. 60. 3) Consonants 4.1 MONOPHTHONGS OR PURE VOWELS All but one of the seventeen or so Sierra Leonean Languages gave a seven vowel system. The vowels referred to here are pure vowels or monophthongs. Of the languages in question, three have a seven vowel system while one has a nine vowel system, Krio, Limba and Mende share the same number of vowels as illustrated below: 4.2 A PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF THE PURE VOWEL PHONEMES IN KRIO, LIMBA AND MENDE WITH EXAMPLES GLOSSED IN ENGLISH Front Un-Rounded High Close Vowel KRIO It (to eat) Timo (to love) Ngoli (urine) Hati (child) Faji (bucket) Kech (to Catch) Nine (to sleep) Fenda (to fill) Ed (head) Wathe (male) Pote (to turn) Σp (to help) k thΣ (to know) tΣli (black) rΣs (rice) b lΣ (black) pΣlΣ (house) Fambul (family) Adoy (to labour) Mba (rice) Makit (market) [i] MENDE Sidom (to sit) 1 LIMBA l pa (to stone) Faji (bucket) Front Un-Rounded Half Close Vowel 2 [e] Front Un-Rounded Half Open Vowel 3 [Σ] Centre Low Open Vowel 4 [a] Back rounded half open
  61. 61. 5 [ ] rinch (orange) r ntima (nail) n mi (green) spitul (hospital) t ŋa (to drop) b ndo (okra) Os (house ) Loya (to launder) Kowe (white) Po (poverty) Pona (to cook) Ngoli (urine) Uk (hook) huyΣ (night) Mbu (under) Buk nkumba (stream) Kulu (hug) Back rounded half close vowel 6 [o] Back rounded high close vowel 7 [u] 4.1.2 VOWEL SYSTEM OF THEMNE Themne has two more vowels than Krio, Limba and Mende. It is the only language in Sierra Leone that has a nine vowel system. The additional two vowels are both central. Detailed below is the Themne vowel chart. Front Close Center Back i u Half close e Half open Open Σ å a o
  62. 62. 4.1.2.1 PHONETIC DESCRIPTION OF PURE VOWEL PHONEMES IN THEMNE 1) [ I ] Front un-rounded closed vowel Attested in Fisa (better), fi (to die) 2) [ e ] Front un-rounded half closed vowel Attested in Mer (to swallow), shel (to laugh) be (a contraction of the conjunction) bepi (if) 3) [ Σ ] Front un-rounded half opened vowel Attested in kΣra (message), ahakΣ (sin) 4) [ a ] Centre low open vowel Attested in Yak (to launder), ba (to have/to lay eggs) 5) [ ] Back rounded half open vowel Attested in wath (child), K nΣ (to go), aŋl k 6) [ o ] Back round half closed vowel Attested in Kor (stomach), wol (to play) (maybe/perhaps)
  63. 63. 7) [ u ] Back rounded closed vowel Attested in Utik (stranger), sum (darkness), fu (new/for nothing) 8) [ å ] Mid Central half open vowel Attested in Nånt (fire), åŋl)k) (perhaps), bå (to lay eggs) 9)[ ] Mid central half closed vowel Attested in Gb m (to pound), gb l (to sweep) From the aforementioned, it can be conclusively stated that Krio, Limba and Mende have seven pure vowels, whilst Themne has nine. The difference being the Central Vowel Phonemes [å] and [ ] found in Themne. 4.1.3 OCCURRENCE PATTERNS OF PURE VOWEL PHONEMES Drawing from the segmental phonology, inherently, the peak of any of the above mentioned segments is normally a vowel. Sounds making up words are divided into the onset, nucleus and coda. The onset refers to the initial sound (s), the nucleus refers to the medial sound(s) and the coda to the final sound(s). By virtue of the underlying phonological structure of a language, a phoneme may only occur in one of the positions mentioned above. Phonemes variably occur in one and not in another position. For example, a particularly phoneme can only occur in word initial and not word final position.
  64. 64. 4.1.3.1 OCCURRENCE PATTERNS OF PURE VOWEL PHONEMES IN KRIO Krio words manifest an elaborate system of syllable structure element configuration. Jones 1980:46 captures the phenomenon by suggesting that a vowel is sandwiched by one to three consonants on each side. Essentially, the following configurations can be attested in the language: CVC, CCVC, CCCVC, CCCVCC, CCCVCCC, CVCC, CVCCC etc. Krio monophthongs especially the front un-rounded high close [ I ] and the central low open vowel [ a] can be independently syllabic. The front un-rounded high close vowel [ I] is used as the second person singular pronoun in the subjective mood. The central low open is also used as the first person singular in the subjective mode. This is exemplified in the sentences below glossed in English 1) i de kam He/she/it is coming 2) i d n go He/she/it has gone 3) a de slip I am sleeping 4) a kik di b l I kicked the ball All pure vowel phonemes in Krio can invariably occur at word initial, medial or final, thus constituting the onset, nucleus and coda as the case may be. The schema below shows the occurrence patterns of pure vowel phonemes in Krio in relation to the initial, medial and final sounds of words.
  65. 65. 1) [ i ] Front un-rounded high close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final it (food/to eat) Tik (stick) Pati (party) ib (to drop something) Swip (to sweep) izi (easy) izi (easy Ziro (zero) Mami (elder woman) 2) [ e ] Front un-rounded half close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final ed (head) fent (faint) pe (to pay) eg (egg) beg (to beg) de (day) ebi (heavy) pent (paint) se (said) 3) [ Σ ] Front un-rounded half open vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final Σp (help) bΣnch (bench) bΣlΣ (stomach/Pregancy) Σŋ (to hand) bΣt (to bite) Σmti (empty) pΣn (pen) lΣlΣ (a food) 4) [ a ] Central low open Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final an (hand) bat (bat) ala (shout) ala (to shout) kyat (cat) pawa (power) at (heart) shap (shop) winda (window)
  66. 66. 5) [ ] Back rounded half open vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final p t (pot) mΣzh m le (local alcohol) w d (word) m  t (hot/to put out) b l (ball) s rinch ( orange) (measure) (more) (sore) 6) [ o ] Back rounded half open vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final ol (hole/old) bon (bone) go (to go) os (house) kol (cold/charcoal) ajo (kind gesture) jomp (to jump) po (poverty) 7) [ u ] Back rounded high close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final uk (hook) rum (room) du (to do) uman (woman) chuk (to stab) tu (two) us (which) skul (School) yu (you) 4.1.3.2 OCCURRENCE PATTERNS OF PURE VOWEL PHONEMES IN LIMBA Words in Limba manifest a basic consonant – vowel – consonant – vowel (CVCV) structure. In essence words variably start with a consonant and end with a vowel. Consonants do not cluster in
  67. 67. Limba, so there is an intervening vowel after every consonant. Generally, pure vowels or mnophthongs do not occur at word initial position, except in rare cases like: 1) Okiyaŋ (my own) 2) okΣntu (our own) 3) od y (to labour) 4) afuy (to be far/become plentiful) 5) athay (to dry in the sun) More evidently, pure vowels in Limba can occupy word medial and final positions. The schema below shows the occurrence patterns of pure vowel phonemes in Limba in relation to the initial, medial and final sounds of words. 1) [ i ] Front un-rounded high close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final ŋinda (to send) bΣti (bird) Toŋina (to show) Hati (child) 2) [ e ] Front un-rounded half close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final mpende (millet) nine (to sleep) feŋ (fish) wathe (male) 3) [ Σ ] Front un-rounded half open vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final bΣti (bird) hakΣ (all) fΣtha (friend) namΣ (how) mΣti (town) k thΣ (to know)
  68. 68. 4) [ a ] Central low open vowel Sound Initial Sound Final hati (child) foma (all) kpaku (chief punka (able) kasi (taboo) 5) [ Sound Medial hΣΣra (opportunity) ] Back rounded half open vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final k ra (to kill) Sim k r gba (to hide) Pit k (to forget) t ŋina (to show) w th (viper) (to remember) 6) [ o ] Back rounded half close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final boka (cutlass) timo (like/love) bompa (leaves) foma (all) 7) [ u ] Back rounded high close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final duba (blessing) baalu (goat hurinki (firestone) gbaku (a chief) punka (able)
  69. 69. 4.1.3.3 OCCURRENCE PATTERNS OF PURE VOWEL PHONEMES IN MENDE Words in Mende generally manifest a consonant – vowel (CV) structure, in essence most words begin with consonant and end in a vowel. Mende pure vowel phonemes especially the central low open [a], the front un-rounded high close [i] and the front un-rounded half open [Σ] vowels can be independently syllabic. The central low open vowel phoneme is used as the third person singular pronoun in the interrogative mood, the front un-rounded high close vowel phoneme is used as the third person singular pronoun in the declarative mood, the front un-rounded half open vowel especially when lengthened is used as the negative marker for the third person singular pronoun in the declarative mood. This is exemplified below. 1) a mba mΣΣ He/she/it rice eat Does he/she/it eat rice? 2) a nyiil flo He/she/it write it feast Will he/she/it write it fast 3) i mba mΣnga He/she/it rice eaten He/she/it has eaten the rice 4) i nyiinga flo He/she/it written it fast He/she/it has written it fast 5) ΣΣ mba mΣ
  70. 70. He/she/it (negative) rice eat He/she/it does not eat rice 6) ΣΣ nyii flo He/she/it (negative) write fast He/she/it will not write it fast Mende pure vowel phonemes do not occur in sound initial position of words, but can occur in sound medial and final positions. The schema below shows the occurrence patterns of pure vowel phonemes in relation to the initial, medial and final sounds of words. 1) [ i ] Front un-rounded high close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final hindo (male) faji (bucket) ndiam sani (bottle/glass) (friend) ngeinda (morning) n)mi (green) 2) [ e ] Front un-rounded half close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final ngewo (God) fele (two) ngegem wote (to turn) (worker) demia kpete (swamp) 3) [ Σ ] Front un-rounded half open vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final
  71. 71. bΣki (sac) mΣ (to eat) fΣlei (winnower) makΣ (to bring up/rear) Sembei (hut) sΣlΣ (banana) Sound Medial Sound Final sani (bottle) huma (to steal/measure) faji (bucket) hota (stranger) nyanii (poverty) kekema (scorpion) 4) [ a ] Central low open Sound Initial 5) [ ] Back rounded half open vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final n mi (green) b nd (okra) k li (leopard) v nd (to sweat) k l (iron) 6) [ o ] Back rounded half close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final hota (stranger) tato (to start) gboki (hip) nyapo (young woman) poma (corpse) folo (sun) 7) [ u ] Back rounded high close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final
  72. 72. juma (Friday) vonu (last year) hunti (to mix) k lu (iron) huma (to steal/measure) kuulu (accept) 4.1.3.4 OCCURRENCE PATTERNS OF PURE VOWEL PHONEMES IN THEMNE Basically words in Themne can either start with a vowel or a consonant and can also end in either, thus words in Themne manifest a CVC or a VCV structure. The front un-rounded high close vowel [i] is used as the first person singular pronoun in the language as attested below: 1) i k ri l ŋ I went there yesterday Some Themne pure vowel Phonemes like the central half open [å] in åhakΣ (sin), the central low open vowel [a] in aroŋ (a road), the [u] as in uckik (stranger) can occur in sound initial position, but most others only occur in sound medial and final positions. The schema below shows the occurrence patterns of pure vowel phonemes in Themne in relation to the initial, medial and final sounds of words. 1) [ i ] Front un-rounded high close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final yif (as ask) bi (black) pim (to pick) k li (to look) fir (to find) di (to eat) 2) [ e ] Front un-rounded half close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final
  73. 73. Fer (to drum) Mer (to swallow) Leŋ (to sing) 3) [ Σ ] Front un-rounded half open vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final bΣk (bag) m nΣ (poverty) mΣr (salt) hakΣ (sin) dΣr (a place) k nΣ (to go) Sound Medial Sound Final kal (to roast) ba (to have) wath 9child) lasa (perhaps) pat (to cook) kala (money) 4) [ a ] Central low open Sound Initial 5) [ ] Back rounded half open vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final n t (to push) Buk n y (to receive) b (to loan) f f (to talk) k to go (to wash) 6) [ o ] Back rounded half close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final
  74. 74. dor (hunger) for (to gossip) pol (to clap) 7) [ u ] Back rounded high close vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final buk fu (new/in vain) (to wash) wur (to come out) ru (to plait) thuf (to spit) 8) [ å ] Mid central half open vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final nånt (fire) kårå (to bring) fåk (to drop) bår (to add) 9) [ ] Mid central half closed vowel Sound Initial Sound Medial B th (morning) K Sound Final li (to look) Gb l From the preceding analysis, it can be discerned, that there tangible differences in the pure vowel phonemes of the four languages in question, Limba, Krio and Mende manifest seven pure vowels, Themne manifests nine, the difference being the central vowel phonemes [ ] and [å].
  75. 75. Limba, Mende and Themne rarely manifest vowel phonemes in sound initial position in words. Krio abundantly manifests all pure vowel phonemes in sound initial, medial and final positions of words. Mende pure vowel phonemes are longer i.e. they are produced in a longer duration than usual, primarily because the language is very tonal, krio pure vowel phonemes are shorter than the other three languages. 4.2 DIPHTHONGS OR IMPURE VOWELS Krio, Limba and Themne manifest three, six and six diphthongs respectively. Mende consists two sets of co-articulated vowels; similar vowels in sequence and dissimilar vowels in sequence. 4.2.1 DIPHTHONGS OR IMPURE VOWELS IN KRIO As started earlier, Krio manifest three diphthongs, these are [aw], [ay] and [ y]. [aw] and [ay] can be independently syllabic as in; aw (how) ay (high) These diphthongs, as in Krio pure vowel phonemes can occupy sound initial, medial and final position in words. The schema overleaf shows the occurrence patterns of diphthong phonemes in Krio. [aw] Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final awtin (outing) krawd (crowd) naw (now) sawnd (sound) kaw (cow) rawnd (round)
  76. 76. [ay] Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final ayd (to hide fayn (fine) kray (cry) aydul (idle) sayd (side) lay (to lie) ays (ice) paynt (pint) kayt (kite) Sound Medial Sound Final t y (toy) j y (joy) p ynt (to point) b y (servant [ y] Sound Initial yl (oil) 4.2.2 DIPHTHONGS OR IMPURE VOWELS IN LIMBA Limba comprises six diphthongs; [uy], [oy], [ay], [Σy] and [ey]. These diphthongs do not occur at word initial position, but can occur rarely at word medial position, and are much more productive at word final position. The following schema illustrates the occurrence patterns of diphthong phonemes in relation to the initial, medial and final sounds of words. 1) [uy] As in Afuy (to be far 2) [oy] As in Kuthoy (a bone), kusoy (a fish cone/thorn)
  77. 77. 3) [ y] Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final Kut yti (church) Ad y (to labour) Th yo (python) 4) [ay] As in Athay (to dry in the sun) 5) [Σy] As in kuthΣy 6) [ey] As in Husagbey (bitter kola) 4.2.3 MENDE SIMILAR AND DISSIMILAR VOWELS IN SEQUENCE Some writers assert that the Mende sound system is devoid of diphthongs. However, a thorough analysis would reveal that Mende, by virtue of its high tonality comprises similar vowels in sequence; which are lengthened versions of the pure vowels, and dissimilar vowels in sequence; which are an elaborate system of combined and co-articulated pure vowels that are diphthongal in nature. 4.3.2.1 SIMILAR VOWELS IN SEQUENCE
  78. 78. Due to the high tonality of the language, words can only be understood when individual phonemes are accorded the right tone, Mende consists of seven similar vowels in sequence. These are lengthened pure vowels these usually occur in sound final position of words. They are illustrated below: 1) [ii] as in gii (to think) 2) [ee] as in tee (to cut) 3) [ΣΣ] as in mΣmΣΣ (mirror) 4) [aa] as in ndolaa (baby) 5) [ ] as in gb (what is this), b)) (football) 6) [oo] as in koo (pregnancy/to be inside) 7) [uu] as in puu (ten) 4.2.3.2 DISSIMILAR VOWELS IN SEQUENCE These are dissimilar vowel combinations that are actually diphthongs in nature. There are twenty of such vowel sequences in Mende 1) [ae] as in dae (please) 2) [ai] as in gai (to break) 3) [au] as in kpay (bridge) 4) [ia] as in tia (they) 5) [iΣ] as in siΣ (thank) 6) [ie] as in bie (name) 7) [io] as in gobio (male name) 8) [iu] as in makiu (male name) 9) [uΣ] as in puΣ] (mud) 10) [ui] as in pupui (ant) 11) [ua] as in kpua (take it out) 12) [Σi] as in tΣi (black) 13) [ i] as in s)I (a saw) 14) [ Σ] as in k)Σ (letter)
  79. 79. 15) [ a] as in t)a (saw) 16) [oe] as in koe (to find) 17) [oa] as in foa (to reach) 18) [oi] as in soi {horse) 19) Ei [ as in hei (to sit) 20) [eo] as in leo (to go on) The dissimilar vowels in sequence all occur at sound final position in words 4.2.4 DIPHTHONGS OR IMPURE VOWELS IN THEMNE Themne like Limba, but unlike Krio and Mende manifests six diphthongs; [ay], [åy], [oy], [ y], [uy], and [ey]. These diphthongs are manifested mainly in sound final positions in words 1) [ay] as in Kay (young bush), fay (to slaughter), say (to neglect) 2) [åy] as in Kåy (to glog), tåy (something/problems), låy (quick/to open one’s palm) 3) [oy] as in Boy (succulent), åsoy (horse), foy (to float) 4) [ y] as in b y (to immerse), th y (to burn something), s y (stealthily) 5) [uy] as in åkuy (a crocodile), fuy (to increase), tuy (sick/scarce) 6) [ey] as in
  80. 80. Tey (to stop), ukey (a thief), they (rotten) In sum Krio manifests three diphthongs that can occur at sound initial, medial and final positions in words. Limba and Themne manifest six diphthongs each, these diphthongs do not occur at sound initial position, but occur rarely in sound medial position, and are widely manifested in sound final position in words. Mende manifests twenty dissimilar vowels in sequence that are diphthongal in nature and seven lengthened or similar vowels in sequence. These occur at sound final position of words. 4.3 CONSONANTS The number of consonants in the languages in focus vary; Krio manifests twenty six consonants, Limba manifests twenty eight (some writers separate consonants from digraphs and prenasalized consonants thus claiming the number of consonants in the language to be eighteen), Mende manifests twenty four consonants. Themne manifests eighteen consonants. This analysis is going to be done in relation to the conventional labelling categories given to consonants. 4.3.1 PLOSIVES/STOPS The number stops or plosives in the languages in focus differ, Krio manifests eight plosives, Limba manifests eleven plosives, Mende manifests eleven plosives and Themne six. The nasal consonants [m], [n] and [ŋ] are evidently plosified in Limba and Mende, bit not in Krio or Themne. The apico dental [th] is also evidently plosified in Limba. 4.3.1.1 STOPS/PLOSIVES IN KRIO As stated earlier Krio manifests eight plosives and most can occur in sound initial, medial and final position of words. The following data illustrates this point.
  81. 81. 1) [p] Voiceless bilabial plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Paynt (pint)  spitul (hospital) Sound Final Abop (to rely) Pikin (child) Kapu (to grap) Shap (shop) p t (pot) Napi (napkin) Kyap (cap) 2) [b] Voiced bilabial plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final Bizi (busy) Fambul (family) Sheb (to share) b d (bird) Abop (to rely Bab (to barb) b ks (box) Tebul (table) 3) [d] Voiced alveolar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final d g (dog) Winda (window) Sawnd (sound) De (day) Kyandul (candle) Bad (bad) Day (to die) Kad (card) 4) [t] Voiceless alveolar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final Tinap (to stand) Wetin (what) Trit (street) Tide (today) Arata (rat) Makit (market) Trade (a while ago) Bata (drum) m t (mouth)
  82. 82. 5) [g] Voice velar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final Gem (game) Agidi (a food) Beg (to beg g t (gut) Bag (bag) g n (gun) 6) [k] Voice velar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final Kik (to kick) Kotoku (purse) Tik (stick) k p (cup Makit (market) Fek (fake) Kyat (cat) 7) [kp] Voiceless labio velar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Kpak Akpata (rock) (back of head) Sound Final Shakpa 8) [gb] Voiced labio velar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final
  83. 83. Gbana (stubborn) Agbara (running water) Yagba The labio velar plosives are hardly attested in sound final position of words. 4.3.1.2 PLOSIVES/STOPS IN LIMBA Limba manifests eleven plosives which are primarily attested in sound initial and medial positions in words. The following data illustrates this point. 1) [b] Voiceless bilabial plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Bara (meat) Yumba (wait) Banka (house) Duba (blessing) Boka (cutlass) Sound Final Kubapu (an axe) 2) [p] Voiced bilabial plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Paka (rice) Kubapu (an axe) Pit k Bompa (leaves) (to forget) Sound Final pΣkila (loose) 3) [d] Voiced alveolar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final
  84. 84. Doni (a load) kpΣdΣ (impotence) Duba (blessing) Handa (your father) Dama (hunt) t ŋina (to show) 4) [t] Voiceless alveolar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Tali (medicine) ŋata (go upwards) Tala (lay down) mΣti (town) t ŋina (to show) Sound Final Hati (child) 5) [gb] Voiced labio velar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Gbisa (to dig) kpΣgbΣ (knot) Gbasa (to mark) Sound Final Hugbu (knee) Husagbey ( bitter kola) 6) [kp] Voiceless labio velar plosive Sound Initial Kpala (write) kpΣgbΣ (knot) Kpoyori (to lock) Sound Medial Sound Final
  85. 85. 7) [k] Voice velar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial k ra (to kill) Banka (house) Kasi (taboo) Sound Final Baka (meat) Note: in intervocalic position the voiceless velar plosive is pronounced as the fluid [r] unless if preceded by the alveolar nasal [n] 8) [th] Voiced apico dental plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Thara (to run) Detha (to look) Thunkuna (to pay) Sound Final fΣtha (laugh) 9) [m] Voiced bilabial nasal plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Manaŋ (cow) yΣrΣmΣ (woman) mΣΣti (salt Name (how) mΣtΣŋ (clean) Dama (hunt) Sound Final
  86. 86. 10) [n] Voiced alveolar nasal plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final Nanda (your mother) ŋayna (to keep) ŋayen (sticks) namΣ (how) Payni (complete) 11) [ŋ] Voiced velar nasal plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final ŋinda (send) t ŋina (to show) Manaŋ (cow) ŋata (go upwards) t ŋa (to drop) Feŋ (fish) dagbalΣŋ (shoes) The apico dental [th] and the nasals in the language are evidently plosified thus their classification as plosives. The nasals especially the alveolar nasal and the velar nasal can occur at sound final position of words. 4.3.1.3 PLOSIVES/STOPS IN MENDE Mende manifests eleven plosives, these occur primarily at sound initial and medial position of words. The following data substantiates this assertion. 1) [p] Voiceless bilabial plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial pujΣ (pepper) nΣp Puu (ten) Pupui (ant) p li (promiscuisity) (to coax) Sound Final
  87. 87. 2) [b] Voiced bilabial plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Bulu (trumpet) Samba (basket) Bafa (hut) Jumbu (fur/hair) b ndo (okra) Sound Final vΣmbΣ (to touch) 3) [t] Voiced alveolar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Taga (cassava) Mita (spoon) tΣi (black) Yata (to prostrate) Tei (chicken) Sound Final Wote (to turn) 4) [d] Voiceless alveolar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Dae (name) Konda (mortar) Doli (hook) f nd Sound Final (sweat) 5) [k] Voice velar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Koto (to fold) bΣki (sac) Kava (to cheat) kΣkΣ (father) Konda (mortar) Sound Final
  88. 88. 6) [g] Voiced velar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Genda (morning) Taga (cassava) gΣlΣ (to stop) Ngegem Gele (to fry) Sound Final Hingaa (men) (worker) 7) [kp] Voiceless labio velar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Kpaki (shoulder) Sound Final Hakpa (sauce ) Kpaa (farm) Kpawa (to count) 8) [gb] Voiced labio velar plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Gboki (hip) Sound Final Kuba (warrior) Gbuja (to climb down) Gbapi 9) [m] Voiced bilabial nasal plosive Sound Initial Sound Medial Sound Final

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