On the status of palatalization in Gbari language


  • Onyinye Anulika Aniagboso Department of Linguistics & Communication Studies
  • Ebitare F. Obikudo Department of Linguistics & Communication Studies,
  • Roseline Ihuoma Alerechi Department of Linguistics & Communication Studies


palatalization, vowel hiatus, vowel syncope, Gbari language


Palatalization is ascertained to be a phenomenon common in the Nupoid languages of the New Benue-Congo phylum, and to Gbari language in particular (Hyman and Magaji 1970, Rosendall 1992, Philip and Sheshi 2004, Blench 2009, Mohammed, 2012). This paper discusses the issue of palatalization in Gbari with the aim of highlighting the irregularity observed in the consistency of its formation in identical phonetic environments. Data was elicited via the 1700 SIL comparative wordlist, associative constructions and also from available literature. The Adobe Audition 1.5 software was used in the editing of audio files while the Praat software was used for data annotation and analysis. Acoustic investigations show that the plosives /k/,/b/./p/, perceptually interpreted as palatalized before front vowels are acoustically analyzed as sequences of vowels (vowel hiatus). However, in the environment of the low back vowel /a/, they are palatalized and phonemic. No palatal feature is recorded in the production of the bilabial nasal and the nasally released plosives, though the palatalized nasally released voiced bilabial plosive /bᵐʲ/ is recorded before the vowel /a/. Further findings show that words with the CGV syllable structure have the fricative /z/ derived through the process of vowel syncope and the plosives, palatalized and phonemic before the low back vowel /a/. Only the voiced velar plosive is realized as palatalized and phonemic before the font vowels /i/ and /e/. This work thus suggests palatalization is not phonetic in the Gbari language but phonemic. Vowel hiatus and vowel syncope are also seen as the phonological phenomena that accounts for some supposed palatalized sounds in the language.

Author Biographies

Onyinye Anulika Aniagboso, Department of Linguistics & Communication Studies

University of Port Harcourt.


Ebitare F. Obikudo, Department of Linguistics & Communication Studies,

University of Port Harcourt


Roseline Ihuoma Alerechi, Department of Linguistics & Communication Studies

University of Port Harcourt.


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How to Cite

Anulika Aniagboso, O. ., F. Obikudo, E. ., & Ihuoma Alerechi, R. . (2018). On the status of palatalization in Gbari language. Journal of The Linguistic Association of Nigeria, 21(1), 202–216. Retrieved from https://jolan.com.ng/index.php/home/article/view/154

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