Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Steve Parker


This thesis describes the tonal patterns and alternations present in the Mpyemo language (Bantu A.86c – ISO code mcx), with special attention to the verbal system. Rules and autosegmental representations are used to clarify and provide a formal analysis. A tone raising rule causes the underlying two-tone system to display three phonetic levels at the surface. This thesis explores nominalized verbs and verbs in the imperative. In addition, inflected verbs are described, although only a limited set of inflectional morphemes are treated. Thus, I look at verbs with inflectional prefixes for subject agreement, the perfect, and a single verbal auxiliary (a category that includes tense and aspect as well as lexical morphemes). I do not attempt a treatment of negation, questions, verbs with multiple auxiliaries, or those with causative or reflexive suffixes.

Verbal auxiliaries are subdivided into three groups according to their compatibility with the perfect. Floating tones occur at three different morpheme boundaries and distinguish between indicative mood and subjunctive mood.

Nominal tone is also briefly discussed, in order to show parallels with verbal tone and to account for the behavior of nouns as verbal objects.

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