Chimwiini phonological phrasing revisited

Charles W. Kisseberth*, Mohammad Imam Abasheikh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper revisits the topic of phonological phrasing in Chimwiini. Previous discussion of Chimwiini phrasing has been based entirely on the evidence provided by the vowel length alternations found in the language. Unfortunately, these alternations do not allow an exhaustive account of Chimwiini phrasing. Chimwiini accent (or High tone) provides a new source of evidence. Accent falls on the final vowel in certain morphosyntactic contexts, otherwise on the penult. This accent is phrasal in nature: it is the final or penult vowel in the last word in the phrase that bears accent. Furthermore, what counts as a phrase for the purposes of accent are exactly the same phrases that are required to account for the vowel length alternations in Chimwiini. This accentual evidence is used to verify the general principle that a phonological phrase occurs at the edge of every (lexical) maximal projection, but it also establishes that a focused element resides at the end of a phonological phrase. The accentual evidence, particularly as it is revealed in sentences involving focus, suggest that phrasing may be recursive in Chimwiini, and that both Align-XP R and Wrap-XP (constraints well known in the literature) play a role in the language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1987-2013
Number of pages27
Issue number13
StatePublished - Oct 2011


FundersFunder number
National Endowment for the HumanitiesPD-50009


    • Accent
    • Bantu
    • Phonological phrasing
    • Phonology
    • Phonology-syntax interface
    • Stress
    • Tone
    • Vowel quantity


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