Title page for ETD etd-02092004-112729

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Owino, Daniel
URN etd-02092004-112729
Document Title Phonological nativization of Dholuo loanwords
Degree DLitt (African Languages)
Department African Languages
Advisor Name Title
Prof R Gauton
Prof C J van Rensburg Committee Co-Chair
  • nativization
  • loanword
  • suprasegmental
  • non-canonic
  • resyllabification
  • epenthetic
  • extrasyllabic
  • insertion
  • deletion
  • devocalization
Date 2003-09-10
Availability unrestricted
This is essentially a phonological analysis of the Dholuo loanwords derived from English and Swahili.

This study examines loanword adaptation at three levels: phonemic, phonotactic and prosodic. The study analyses the strategies that the language has used in adapting the foreign phonemes to the native phoneme system. It also examines the way foreign consonant and vowel clusters are adapted to the Dholuo system and how the stress systems in the source languages are adapted to the Dholuo tonal pattern. The Dholuo principles of syllabification are also examined.

On adaptation of incoming sounds into the language, the study determined that Dholuo replaces such foreign segments with native sounds which are acoustically and auditorily closest to the foreign sounds. Some foreign sounds, however, are adopted into the sound system of the language, either to fill some phonological gaps in the language or for non-linguistic factors, like the prestige value.

The study found that the native speaker-hearer has knowledge of the possible phonetic sequences in his language and performs the simplest possible adaptation in the loanword to make it correspond to these well-formed sequences. This extends to the insertion or deletion of foreign segments to make a loanword conform to the syllable structure constraints of the native system.

The study reveals that Dholuo employs several strategies to nativize unnatural, non-canonic syllable structures: epenthetic vowel insertion, extrasyllabic consonant or vowel deletion, devocalization of unnatural vowel sequences, addition of a final vowel, and in some cases, consonant clusters may be tolerated.

At the suprasegmental level, the study reveals that stress in the source languages is generally rendered as high tone in the language, while the stressed vowel in the loanword generally determines the ATR harmony in the loanword. The study revealed that if the first syllable in the loanword is stressed, then the loanword will be rendered with +ATR in Dholuo, while an unstressed first syllable will lead to a loanword with ľATR harmony.

The study concludes that the means employed by a given language for the adaptation of unnatural, non-canonic syllable shapes are, in a general sense, peculiar to that language, and have nothing to do with the internally-motivated morpheme structure or phonological rules of the target language.

The study also concludes that foreign phonemes are directly mapped onto corresponding native phonetic forms, and there is very scarce evidence in the data to support the theory that loanwords are nativized at the abstract phonological level of the target language.

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