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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

This paper investigates Vowel Harmony (VH) in the verbs of Mbili, a Grassfield Bantu Language spoken in the North West province of Cameroon. I show that the vowel harmony in both the root and derived verbs can be analyzed in a simple and straightforward way by using concepts of prosodic phonology. I argue that there are only three vowels in the underlying representation, which are the central low vowel, the central high vowel and the schwa. There is a separate tier where all the vowel features cumulate at the beginning of the root. Vowel features spread within metrical foot from left to right. When the central low vowel and the schwa are within the metrical foot, they get the vowel features, otherwise they surface as the central low vowel or the schwa. In contrast, the central high vowel resists vowel harmony.

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