Effects of Plural Suffixation on Tone Assignment in the Keiyo Language Spoken by the Keiyo Community in Kenya

Chelimo Andrew Kiprop, Judith Chepkirui, John Kibet


This paper discusses the effects of the plural suffixes on the assignment of tone in Keiyo language. The aim of the study was to analyze the phonological and prosodic processes that Keiyo nouns (both definite and indefinite) undergo when inflected for number. Since the research was basically descriptive, a design that allowed for the careful description of the phonological characteristics was used. The research was carried out in Tambach Division of Keiyo District in Rift Valley Province. Four adult native speakers who have spent their entire lives in Tambach Division were selected as respondents as they had a rich inventory of the Keiyo nominal vocabulary. The author engaged them with a list of different kinds of generated nouns in their root forms, the singular forms and their corresponding plurals for them to confirm the researcher’s version of the selection of suffixes. Data analysis was done in various stages. From the findings, Keiyo has about three (3) different underlying tones that include High (H), Low (L) and Mid (M). As such, tone is assigned on a noun depending on the meaning that is desired from the individual word. It was noted that plural suffixes in Keiyo are of two forms the indefinite default /in/ and the definite default /ik/ respectively. These two suffixes are however realized differently in different contexts because of constraining phonological factors. Noun roots in Keiyo in their standard forms predominantly carry mid-tone or occasionally a low tone. This feature is however exclusive to the first syllable of the noun roots. The rest of the syllables that follow will also be dictated by the harmony factor. Therefore, when the suffix applies, the initial mid-tone in the root word changes to a low (L) tone in the suffixed word and then to a high (H) tone on the suffix boundary which in most cases is the last syllable in the realized plural suffixed word. Upon suffixation therefore, the features found in the singular nouns and those brought in by the suffixes merge and create a new pattern of tone in the plural form.

Keywords: Effects, Plural Suffixation, Tone Assignment, Keiyo Language, Keiyo Community, Kenya

Full Text: PDF
Download the IISTE publication guideline!

To list your conference here. Please contact the administrator of this platform.

Paper submission email: RHSS@iiste.org

ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

Please add our address "contact@iiste.org" into your email contact list.

This journal follows ISO 9001 management standard and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Copyright © www.iiste.org