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Title: Vowel coalescence” as assimilation and elision processes: evidence from Ẹdo
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: New findings in the study of Nigerian languages and literature. A festschrift in honour of Oladele Awobuluyi
Series/Report no.: 151-163;
Abstract: In the view of some scholars, coalescence as a phonological process is the fusion of two contiguous sound segments to produce a third and new segment the same way oxygen combines with hydrogen to form water. It is therefore claimed that two phonetically different vowels coalesce across word boundary to form a third one, the two contiguous segments at the underlying representation having disappeared at the surface phonetic level. Relying on copious data from the Ẹdo language, it is argued that the observed cases of “vowel coalescence” are actually the results of an ordered phonetically motivated set of phonological processes: vowel assimilation and vowel elision and tone/nasal shift in that order. This occurs only when the verb is a monosyllabic CV verb bearing a Rising tone in a CV # VCV (CV…) collocation. It is established in this study that vowel elision in the language follows a regular pattern: the vowel before the word boundary elides in a noun-noun or verb-noun collocation except in cases where the vowel in question is a high vowel, in which case, the corresponding glide is formed; or in cases where the vowel is the Rising-toned [a] in a verb-noun collocation. In this latter case, elision of the vowels across word boundary is blocked.
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