Kelly Kilian

M‌aster's student

BA (Hons) (Rhodes)

Email address:

Supervisor: Will Bennett

Research interests:

  • Phonetics & phonology
  • Acoustic analysis
  • Vowel processes
  • Vowel harmony in isiXhosa

Thesis title: An acoustic analysis and Optimality Theory account of vowel harmony in isiXhosa

This thesis focuses on the phonetics and phonology of isiXhosa in an analysis of the phenomenon of vowel harmony. Vowel harmony refers to the systematic interaction between the vowels within a specific phonological or morphological domain (Pulleyblank 2002).

I have performed a direct acoustic analysis using PRAAT software to answer the salient question of the relevant harmonic feature.  This data indicates that height may be the harmonic feature in isiXhosa. Using generalisations based on my own collected data I have developed a set of constraints and ranking to account for the harmony process and derive the optimal phonetic candidate for isiXhosa. A selection of agreement, alignment and faithfulness constraints are used to account for the raising process while placing further selectional limitations on the candidates in order to filter out the remaining exigencies such as regressive spreading and the opacity of [a] (Bakovi? 2000; Bakovi? 2007; Pulleyblank 1986). Therefore my final analysis includes a formalised rule which differs from that of Jokweni & Thipa (1996), and could serve as a map to the vowel harmony system in isiXhosa.

Last Modified: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 23:23:01 SAST