Intrusive stop formation in Zulu : an application of Feature Geometry Theory

Naidoo, Shamila (2005-12)

Thesis (DLitt (African Languages))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


This study investigates the Intrusive Stop Formation process in Zulu. In this process an intrusive stop arises when a nasal and fricative are juxtaposed resulting in the following seven affricate sounds /þf’, {v, ts’, dz, tñ’, dL, tS’/. These sounds are theoretically distinct from the four affricate phonemes which occur in Zulu, namely /kl’, dZ, ts’, tS’/. In this study the former are termed derived affricates and the latter pure affricates. Two aspects of Intrusive Stop Formation are focused on - firstly, determining experimentally whether durational differences obtain between pure and derived affricates and secondly, using the results of the experimental investigation to facilitate a feature geometry description of the Intrusive Stop Formation process. In the experimental investigation nine affricate sounds were examined. Words, containing these sounds, were recorded in frame sentences by five speakers, using PRAAT, a speech–processing platform. The duration of the pure and derived affricates were then determined. It was found that pure affricates are durationally longer than derived affricates. The next progression in this study was the incorporation of the experimental results into a feature geometry description of Intrusive Stop Formation. Feature Geometry Theory has enjoyed acclaim because of its ability to retain Distinctive Feature Theory – the crux of Phonology – in a nonlinear framework. However, Feature Geometry Theory faces challenges with regard to the extent to which it includes phonetic detail; and its formalization technique. This study – Intrusive Stop Formation in Zulu : An Application of Feature Geometry Theory – brings a new perspective to Feature Geometry Theory with the incorporation of the Duration tier – significant for the description of the Intrusive Stop Formation process. Furthermore the study introduces a more efficient formalization technique, which facilitates the explanation of the process. It is always incumbent upon endeavours like this study, which examine specific phonological processes, to show relevance. In the concluding section the application of the experimental approach and Feature Geometry Theory is evaluated in terms of the contribution made to the disciplines of Human Language Technology and Speech Disorders. A compact disk accompanies this thesis. It contains the sound files, spectrograms and textgrids of the recorded data.

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