An OT Analysis of Efik Contrastive Verbal Reduplication

Eleanor Glewwe


This paper provides an optimality-theoretic analysis of two types of contrastive verbal reduplication in Efik (Niger-Congo; Nigeria). Lexical contrast reduplication puts contrastive focus on the meaning of the verb while performance contrast reduplication puts contrastive focus on the tense/aspect of the verb. Lexical contrast and performance contrast reduplication have distinct phonological patterns in the affirmative but do not contrast in the negative, giving rise to three patterns (Cook 1985). I posit three verbal reduplicants, REDNEG, REDLEX, and REDPRF, and derive their segmental and tonal properties in Generalized Template Theory (McCarthy & Prince 1995). I propose that REDLEX and REDPRF are affixes while REDNEG is a root. REDLEX and REDPRF exhibit TETU effects that REDNEG does not, including onset cluster simplification, coda deletion, monosyllabicity, and the absence of high vowels. These effects are derived by ranking various markedness constraints between IO and BR-Root faithfulness and BR faithfulness. As a root, REDNEG has faithful tones. I analyze the polar tone of REDLEX as a case of alternating fixed autosegmentism (a TETU effect driven by the OCP) and the fixed high tone of REDPRF as a case of morphological fixed autosegmentism. Finally, the constraint *HLH explains the tonal behavior of LH verbs.  


Efik; Generalized Template Theory; Reduplication; Tone

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Copyright (c) 2017 Eleanor Glewwe