Phonetics and Phonology of Gua


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project describes and analyzes the sound system of Gua, an undocumented and endangered language of Ghana. The data for the project comes from fieldwork conducted in Ghana. Gua has a large inventory of vowels, including nasal vowels, and these vowels participate in vowel harmony, a requirement that vowels match for an articulatory property. Vowel harmony can even cross word boundaries in systematic ways. Gua has a large consonant system with a series of consonants with lip rounding. Finally, it is a tone language, and uses pitch differences for word and grammatical distinctions. The project considers the interaction of some of these properties as well and proposes some typological and theoretical implications of the patterns in the language. Documenting these properties in detail contributes to linguistic knowledge, but will also serve the Gua community in developing an orthography and educational material.