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Treating the Representation of Amharic Spirantization in Phonological Theories

Amharic phonology


  • Tilahun Negash Debre Markos University


Amharic; Feature Geometry (FG); Lenition; Optimality Theory (OT); Spirantization


This paper intends to illustrate an analysis about one of the common phonological processes known as spirantization of Amharic in the framework of Optimality and Feature Geometry. Amharic, which is one of the most important languages of Ethiopia, is mainly spoken in Amhara regional state of Ethiopia. The investigations of the major dialectal variations and isoglosses of Amharic are scanty. The available literature identifies four major dialects of Amharic: Gojjam, Gonder, Shewa and Wollo. Although the isoglosses and internal dialectal variations are hitherto not clearly established, the literature agrees on the mutual intelligibility among the dialects of this language. In Amharic, there are two consonants which engage in a spirantization process. These consonants include /b, k / which are changed to the fricatives [β, h]. In the spirantization process, the manner node, continuant is added to a stop consonant, producing a fricative at the same place of articulation. It is realized that Optimality Theory model is better at explaining this process compared to Feature Geometry in Amharic.


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