Melodic High Tones in Emihavani

  • Charles Kisseberth
  • Al Mtenje University of Malawi
Keywords: Melodic High, tone, Emihavani


Emihavani is a Bantu language spoken in southeastern Malawi. It is a dialect of Emakhuwa, a languagewhose origins lie in Nampula Province in northern Mozambique, but whose speakers have migrated into bothsouthern Tanzania and southeastern Malawi. It is important to note that all of the regions where Emakhuwa dialectsare spoken are economically under-developed, and a consequence of this is that the language, despite being spokenby several million people, is one of the poorer documented major Bantu languages (cf. Guérois 2015, Katupha 1983,1991, Kisseberth 2003, Kisseberth & Guérois 2014, Stucky 1985, Van der Wal 2009).The present paper starts to remedy this situation for Emihavani by providing an account of the mostcomplicated aspect of the Emihavani tonal system: the “melodic High tone” patterns that operate in the verbalsystem. In order to document these tone patterns, we will necessarily have to provide a brief discussion of severalaspects of Emihavani phonology and morphology. We should emphasize that all of the material in this paper derivesfrom our intensive research on Emihavani that began in 2017. All of the data reflects the speech of Alfred Lihelu, anative speaker who has been part of all the significant research on Emihavani in the past few years (e.g. thetranslation and recording of the New Testament in 2014 by the Bible Society of Malawi). Although our focus isdefinitely on Emihavani, we also seek to place Emihavani in its proper Emakhuwa context. All references to otherEmakhuwa dialects derive from the first-named author’s research over more than four decades.