1. AN AUTOSEGMENTAL STUDY OF TONE IN IGBO LANGUAGE
Nneoma Fyne Ugorji, Ph. D
Owerrinta, Abia State, Nigeria.
Igbo is a language under the New Benue-Congo which is a sub-branch of the Niger-Congo languages. Igbo is a language spoken in southeastern part of Nigeria. Tone is the distinctive pitch level of a syllable. This paper is aimed at examining tones in some aspects of the Igbo language. Data for the study were obtained from competent native speakers by the elicitation method of recording and observation of the speakers as they pronounced some Igbo words. Some of the objectives of this paper are: to demonstrate the occurrence of downdrift in Igbo as a register tone language, to show that a floating high tone displaces a low tone at word boundary and gets relinked to the immediate segmental tier. The framework adopted for the analysis of data in this paper is the Autosegmental Theory of tonal analysis where lines are used in the connection of the tonal tiers to the segmental tiers. Some of the findings in this paper are: that in the imperative verb form, the high and low tone verbs take a low tone harmonizing suffix, that downdrift in Igbo, is as a result of tone lowering on account of their position in an utterance, that downstep tones occur at word boundary between two high tones or at word final positions where the preceding tone is high.
Keywords: Tone, Pitch, Downstep, Downdrift, Autosegmental and Tonal Tiers.