Kenda Soro Phonology


labial dental alveolar palatal velar
nasal stops m n ŋ
oral stops, voiceless p t k
oral stops, voiced b d g
fricatives, voiceless s h
fricatives, voiced v z
rhotics r
laterals l
glides y

All of the consonants can occur initially and medially. Only /n/ and /s/ can occur finally. Consonant clusters allowed medially are /mb/, /nd/, and /ŋg/.

There are five vowels: /ieaou/.

Syllables are generally (C)V, with occasional CVC if the final C is /n/ or /s/. (C)VCCV is allowed with the medial CC being either /mb/, /nd/, or /ŋg/.

Stress is on the first syllable and then every other syllable. It is never on the final syllable. Thus words with an odd number of syllables end in two unstressed syllables. Vowels will change in this environment.

Phonological words have a minimum of two syllables.

Consonant Dissimilation

Some words are partial reduplications of other words. The initial syllable only is reduplicated. If the word begins with a vowel, the first vowel and consonant pair is reduplicated. This triggers consonant dissimilation. If the first consonant of the word is voiceless, then the second voiceless stop or fricative /ptsk/ become the voiced equivalent /bdzg/. Voiceless /h/ does not dissimilate. If the first consonant is already voiced then /bdzg/ become /vrsh/. So, /s/ becomes /z/, and /z/ becomes /s/. Likewise, /l/ becomes /y/ and /y/ becomes /l/. Furthermore, /d/ becomes /r/ and /r/ becomes /d/ with the further development of metathesis so that a word with the pattern rVdVX becomes dVrVX. This metathesis only occurs with /r/ -> /d/. The nasals /m/ and /ŋ/ both dissimilate to /n/. /n/ does not dissimilate.

Some examples:

  • Adjective basa ‘bad’ -> Noun bavasa ‘badness’
  • Adjective poto ‘sick’ -> Noun poboto ‘sickness’
  • Noun runu ‘eye’ -> Dual noun duruno ‘pair of eyes’
  • Noun tutu ‘lesson’ -> Noun tuduto ‘learning’
  • Noun uri ‘wind’ -> Noun udure ‘air’
  • Adjective zeye ‘dark’ -> Noun zeseye ‘darkness’

Vowel Decay

Unstressed vowels are subject to vowel decay. This primarily affects the high vowels /i/ and /u/. /iu/ will lower to /eo/ before a consonant cluster and before a final /s/. They will also decay if they are the final vowel in the two unstressed syllable sequence that occurs at the end of words of three or some other odd number of syllables. Hence duruno above rather than the expected durunu. And tuduto and udure. This decay does not happen if the word is augmented by a particle in some way so that the affected syllable is no longer unstressed or no longer the second unstressed vowel. So sama yanu duruno ‘his wide eyes’, but sadurunu ‘his eyes’.

A second type of vowel decay affecting /i/, /u/, and /a/ happens only when the vowels are in a sequence of unstressed syllables. XCiCa becomes XCeCa and XCuCa becomes XCoCa. Furthermore XCaCi becomes XCeCe and XCaCu becomes XCoCo.