A comparative study of bemba and mambwe at phonological, morphological and lexical levels.

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Lumwanga, Chibwe Ronald.
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The University of Zambia
The close proximity of the Bemba and the Mambwe speech communities was the prime motivation of this study. The study sought to compare Bemba and Mambwe at phonological, morphological and lexical levels. The study used qualitative research design because its focus was on words rather than on numbers. The methods were exploratory and descriptive: seeking to find out the opinions, thoughts and feelings of the respondents. In this study, respondents were freely able to disclose their experiences, thoughts and feelings without constraint. Semi-structured interviews and focus-group discussions were the principal methods of collecting data. There was also some participant observation. Through focus-group discussions, the responses given earlier by the key informant were verified. All the informants are proficient in the languages under study. Collaboration of the participants has made this study a success. Two theoretical frameworks informed this study: Lexical phonology theoretical framework which was developed by Kiparsky and others in 1980s. It is an approach to phonology that shows the interaction of morphology and phonology in the word building processes. Comparative Bantu morphology and phonology theoretical framework developed by Malcom Guthrie during the period 1967-1971 was also applied. This theory is viewed from the perspective of historical definition and typological characteristics, but the focus was on the latter to contextualise this study. The typological characteristics are viewed in terms of phonology, morphology and syntax. Bantu languages are known to share these typological chaaracteristics. Anchored on these theories, the study has brought to the fore the differences and similarities between Bemba and Mambwe in phonology, morphology and the lexicon. The findings show that there are more differences than similarities in each of the three levels of linguistic analysis. By implication of the study, something should be indicated with regard to mutual intelligibility between Bemba and Mambwe. Seeing that differences and similarities have emerged, there is some degree of mutual comprehensibility between the languages under study, but this is much lower on the mutual intelligibility continuum than the 63% arrived at in a study done earlier.
Thesis of Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistic science.