International Research Journal of Musicology and Drama

Full Length Research Paper

A description of tonal patterns in Lubukusu infinitive verbal forms

*Dr. Jerry Agalo and Jamas Nandako

School of Information, Communication and Media Studies, Rongo University College, A Constituent College of Moi University, P.O. BOX 103, Rongo-40404, Kenya

*Corresponding Author E-mail:

Received March 11, 2013; Accepted March 15, 2013


Lubukusu, a Bantu language spoken in Western Kenya, like majority of African languages, is a tone language. The tone languages use various rule-governed tone levels that dictate their functional load on the lexicon as well as in the languages’ grammar. This paper attempts to understand tone by providing a description of its representation in Lubukusu verbal system. Data was collected from the Bukusu-English word list compiled by Marlo, Sifuna and Wasike (2008). All the data collected was subjected to verification by Lubukusu native speakers. The description shows that Lubukusu has both shifting high tone and spreading high tone within the verb from the same high tone sponsor. The data also reveals a case of shifting and spreading of a high tone leftwards interestingly from different high tone sponsors.

Keywords: Tone language, lexicon, verbal system, optimal domain theory, tonological processes.


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