Tonal alternations in the Urhobo noun phrase


  • Rose O. Aziza


Urhobo, Edoid, tone, downstep, noun phrases


Urhobo is an Edoid language spoken extensively in Delta State, Nigeria. This paper examines tonal alternations in the Urhobo noun phrase with a view to providing more data that can lead to a better understanding of tonal behavior in Edoid languages. The language has two basic tones, high and low, two gliding tones, high-low (falling) and low-high (rising), plus a phenomenon of downstep, both automatic and non-automatic. A number of noun phrases are examined here and, as will become obvious later, the language relies heavily on tone to express many grammatical categories. The main points of interest from this study include the preservation of H at the expense of L, the fact that the loss of L does not result in downstep, that 'H plus following H can give H so the down step can be deleted, and that there are syntactically conditioned floating H tones in certain constructions.