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Donnelly, Kevin Gerard (1982) A comparative study of tone and intonation in seven Kongo dialects. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis proposes a pitch-accent description of the pitch features of several dialects of the kiKongo language (Western Central Africa), hitherto considered tonal. Evidence is given that contour variation for the purposes of focus and emphasis exists in kiKongo, ie. that there is an intonational overlay to the basic pitch-accent system. The common pitch feature of 'bridging' (assimilation of low pitches to surrounding high pitches) is shown to be comparable to phenomena in three other Bantu languages, and like them has connotations of focus or emphasis. Previous systematisations of kiKongo pitch features are discussed and shown to be broadly comparable, especially in one area: comparison of the various tone-classes established in these works suggests that there are in fact two main accentual classes in kiKongo - rising (low initial) and falling (high initial). These classes are distinguished on words in isolation, but not on words in context. There is thus a three-tier system: accentual classes, pitch- accent system, and intonational overlay. Examination of pitch placement in the different dialects allows us to delimit four main dialect areas. Creole kiKongo (kiLeta) is shown to differ from kiKongo proper in that high pitch usually occurs on the penultimate syllable of the word rather than on the first syllable of the stem, and the development from one system of placement to the other is discussed.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:59

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