Resolving Vowel Elision Complexities in Yoruba with Harmonic Constraints

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Oluwakayode Komolafe


Resolving vowel hiatus has generated different analyses using the available theoretical approaches. More to the challenge is the question of which vowel actually elides. The case of the elided vowel in a language like Yoruba continues to generate different form of analyses with none fully accounting for the process; among these include Casali (2007) MAXLEX approach and Orie and Pulleyblank (1998, 2000) Prosodic Minimality approach. However, more is involved to which vowel is elided than these. This paper aims to provide evidence on how vowel qualities such as vowel height and Advance Tongue Root contribute to the elided vowel. It also provides analysis to existing exemptions found in Optimality formalisms for Yoruba vowel elision. The paper is developed following the Constraints Based analysis. It draws from faithfulness and markedness (Prince and Smolensky, 1993; McCarthy, 1995) and harmonic constraints (Bakovic, 2000) to provide analysis of vowel elision process of hiatus environment resulting in disyllables. Findings show that ((C)VCV) Yoruba words resulting from vowel elision is subject to harmonic constraints in Yoruba, together with faithfulness and markedness constraints. The paper suggested that in a native speaker’s mind, the constraints are ranked proportionately for the required output; it could higher rank or lower rank conflicting constraints and at the same time allow some of these conflicting constraints violated. As such covert rankings are allowed to take place before output candidate evaluations.

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How to Cite
Komolafe, O. . (2018). Resolving Vowel Elision Complexities in Yoruba with Harmonic Constraints. Journal of The Linguistic Association of Nigeria, 21(3), 186–201. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Oluwakayode Komolafe, Department of Linguistics and African Languages,

University of Ibadan, Ibadan



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