Some aspects of Senga phonology and morphology

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Nkhata, Martin
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University of Zambia
This study examined some aspects of the phonology and morphology of Senga, a language spoken in Chama district of Muchinga Province of Zambia. The main assumption underlying this study was that natural languages were systematically structured and that this structure was evident at all levels of linguistic analysis, including phonology and morphology. The study used a descriptive research design which was mainly informed by a qualitative approach to research. Data were collected mainly from five people who were selected on the basis that they were knowledgeable in the language. Furthermore, the researcher being a speaker of the language also acted as a source of information. In order to ensure validity of the data, two of the informants were used for the purposes of verifying the data. Primary data were collected using self semi-structured interview guides comprising lists of words and sentences. These guides were three and each comprised 250 lexical items and 200 phrases and sentences which were in English. Two of these interview guides were given to knowledgeable and educated speakers of Senga language who provided some Senga glosses. The other one was used in the interview with three competent speakers of the language. Data analysis started immediately the interview began. The researcher sat inside the house with the three in a semi-circle so that the informants faced each other. He started by reading out words one by one in English to which Senga translations were given. The same happened with thesentences and after this was done, the researcher was able to compare with what the other two informants had written. Later, the work was subjected to analysis in the library. Data analysis which involved coding, classification and interpretation was done in line with the set aim and objectives, which included providing a descriptive analysis of the language from a phonological and morphological point of view. At the phonological level, the study established that there were 28 consonants (including glides) and obeying a five vowel system at segmental level. At the suprasegmental level, it was discovered that lexical tone is not distinctive, although tone can be used to distinguish some grammatical sentences like relative clauses .Senga allows a seven syllable structure which is always unchecked and commonly with a CV structure although V and C structures are also found. Some phonological processes like coalescence, deletion, epenthesis, and assimilation were observed. In addition, the language exhibited common morphological features found in Bantu languages and in particular, the structure of pronouns and demonstratives. Furthermore, nominal morphology and verbal morphology demonstrated some interesting features such as the roots and their affixes. The conclusion drawn was that the phonological and morphological compositions of Senga in many ways were similar to the many Zambian languages. This also was true with most Bantu languages in general, though few unique features were noted. Key words: phonology, morphology, segmental,suprasegmental
Morphophonemics , Morphemics , Senga language--Zambia