Tone Sandhi and vowel deletion in Margi


  • Bernard Tranel


nonlinear phonology, tone, sandhi, vowel deletion, Margi, Chadic, tone trapping


Within the theoretical framework of nonlinear phonology, this paper proposes an account of tone sandhi and vowel deletion in Margi, a Chadic language spoken in Northern Nigeria. The database is Hoffman's Grammar of the Margi Language. Language-specific tonal processes in Margi are shown to originate in tone trapping, i.e., the impossibility for a tone to anchor to a skeletal slot by a universal mechanism. The paper identifies the circumstances leading to tone trapping (e.g., Vowel Elision) and formalizes the various tone-rescue processes available both word-internally and across words. Whereas trapped high tones are always saved (either taking over low-tone vowel positions or giving rise to contour tones), trapped low tones may remain trapped throughout a derivation and thus receive no phonetic realization (by universal convention).