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ERIC Number: ED566827
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 282
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3394-8779-3
The Phonology of Betsimisaraka Malagasy
O'Neill, Timothy
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Delaware
This document constitutes the first phonological grammar Betsimisaraka Malagasy, a form of the Malagasy (Austronesian) language spoken in the island nation of Madagascar. Betsimisaraka specifically is the name of an ethnic group with approximately a million members living on the East Coast of the island, as well as the various dialects they speak. However, the forms of Malagasy, which are generally believed to be closely related dialects of the eighteen traditional ethnic groups, may actually constitute separate languages (Bouwer 2005, 2007). While generative phonological approaches to Malagasy do exist (Dziwirek 1989, Albro 2005), this is the first to focus on any variety of Betsimisaraka, a mostly undescribed variety in any area of theoretical linguistics, although see Kikusawa (2006, 2007), who focuses on syntax. Beginning with the knowledge of previous descriptions of related dialects, mostly Official Malagasy (OM), known alternations were re-elicited in the Betsimisaraka town of Vavatenina in 2011 and 2012, and previously unanalyzed alternations were also noted and elicited from multiple speakers in the town. In the end, seventy speakers participated in the study. All alternations observed during elicitation are analyzed using a set of nineteen ordered derivational rules--two of these are optional between and among speakers. Based on the processes these rules describe, this work also proposes a set of minimal features for the phonemes of the language. Throughout the analysis, alternations are first presented atheoretically and then one or more rules is proposed. This analysis is then compared to previous approaches to similar data in related dialects (usually OM). Many of the rules are in a counterbleeding relationship, indicating a high degree of opacity in the language. Distinctions between Betsimisaraka and OM start with their inventories: Betsimisaraka has four sounds [o],[?], [?], and [?] that are rarely or never used in OM, the first two of which are phonemic. Both dialects have word-final consonant neutralization processes, stress-conditioned vowel heightening, and palatalization of velar consonants, though the mechanics of the processes differ between the two varieties. Betsimisaraka also has processes unknown in OM, though they do occur in other dialects, such as word-final nasal deletion and copy-epenthesis, as well as two processes unattested in previous descriptions of any dialect of Malagasy: two similar but distinct allomorphies of first-person singular suffixes and nasal dissimilation. Several aspects of the Malagasy spoken in Vavatenina suggest that it should be classified as Northern Betsimisaraka, based on analysis of the data and previous dialectological findings: existence of phonemic /o/, lack of existence of phonemic /j/, and the aforementioned copy-epenthesis pattern. It is hoped that from the great distinction demonstrated between OM and Betsimisaraka, this work--along with other works of dialectology--can help put an end to the myth of Malagasy linguistic unity. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Madagascar