Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences | Department of Asian and African Studies | Regional Departments | African Studies | Events | Upcoming Events | 15.06. Colloquium on African linguistics: Setswana vowels (Naumann & Gabanamotse-Mogara & Molefhi)

15.06. Colloquium on African linguistics: Setswana vowels (Naumann & Gabanamotse-Mogara & Molefhi)

"Revisiting the Setswana vowel system" - Talk by Christfried Naumann (HU Berlin) & Budzani Gabanamotse-Mogara & Dipogiso Molefhi (University of Botswana) given within the digital colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When Jun 15, 2021 from 04:15 to 05:45 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)
  • Where via Zoom
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Following the analysis by Cole (1949), Setswana is most often presented as a language with seven distinctive vowels /i, ɪ~e̝, ɛ, a, ɔ, ʊ~o̝, u/ (cf. DALL 1999). This analysis has also been adopted in most contemporary phonetic-phonological studies such as Bennett et al. (2016). A few general publications such as Chebanne et al. (1997), however, have raised critique on the basis of phonological arguments and called for a nine-vowel analysis.
    In this talk, we plead for the (re-)adoption of a nine-vowel analysis /i, ɪ, e, ɛ, a, ɔ, o, ʊ, u/ based on an acoustic investigation of vowels produced by nine mother-tongue speakers of Setswana from southeastern Botswana. Although the synchronic nine-vowel system has clearly evolved from the former seven-vowel system of Sotho-Tswana (similar to Proto-Bantu), is not fully stabilized, and might represent a transitory stage of vowel change, it is argued that nine vowel categories must be distinguished in a phonemic analysis that does not accept exceptions due to borrowing, different parts of speech or mere idiosyncracy.

References
Bennett, Wm G., Maxine Diemer, Justine Kerford, Tracy Probert & Tsholofelo Wesi. 2016. Setswana (South African). Journal of the International Phonetic Association 46(2). 235–246.
Chebanne, Andy M., Denis Creissels & H. W. Nkhwa. 1997. Tonal Morphology of the Setswana Verb. Munich: Lincom.
Cole, Desmond T. 1949. Notes on the phonological relationships of Tswana vowels. African Studies 8(3). 109–131.
DALL (Department of African Languages and Literature, University of Botswana). 1999. The Sound System of Setswana. Gaborone: Lightbooks.