Working paper Open Access
Ham, William H.
IsiXhosa, a Bantu language of South Africa, . features a rich system of morphologically am tonologically complex verbal inflection paradigms. This paper takes an Optimality Theoretic approach to accounting for the distribution of high tones in IsiXhosa verbal paradigms, exploring the complex interactions between the tonology and prosodic and morphological structure.
The result is that all 43 of the verbal inflection paradigms listed by Claughton (1983) are generated by a single constraint hierarchy characterized by morphologically conditioned rerankings, unrankings, and reformulations. This analysis therefore makes the broader prediction that given a nonderivational, constraint-based view of grammar, morphology can extend beyond morphemes into the constraint hierarchy itself.