The Monophthongization of /ai/ and /oi/ in Kom: An Autosegmental Perspective

monophthong, diphthong, monophthongization, diphthongization

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September 9, 2022

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A great deal of scholarship has gone into examining monophthongization as a phonological phenomenon occurring within the different chronological stages of languages. Some studies have examined it as a sociolinguistic index of dialectal variation while some others have studied it as a purely idiosyncratic matter within the same language variety. Almost all of these studies have been purely descriptive in nature. This study used the derivational phonology approach to analyze monophthongization as a synchronic phenomenon in the Kom language within the framework of Autosegmental Phonology. Derivations were constructed mapping underlying diphthongal forms to their surface monophthongal realizations. The results show that in natural spontaneous speech, the diphthongs /ai/ and /Oi/ lose their gliding part and become monophthongs when they occur in a syllable that shares boundary to the right with a vowel-initial word. This vowel loss is followed by a compensatory lengthening of the new monophthongized vowel.