Tone in Runyankore Verb Stem Reduplication

  • Larry M. Hyman University of Berkeley


In this paper I describe the surprisingly extensive range of choices Runyankore speakers have in “devaluative-frequentative” verb stem reduplication (“to sort of do X, to do X here and there, to do X a lot”). Analyzed as stem-compounding, both single (stem1-stem2) and multiple (stem1-stem2-stem3...) reduplication are possible of a stem such as furumuka “dash out” (furumuka-furumuka(-furumuka...)), with the possibility of left-aligned truncation (furu-furumuka, furumu-furumuka), right-aligned truncation (furumuka-muka, furumuka-rumuka) and both (furu-furumuka-muka). In addition, prefinal stems can alternatively end in “replacive [a]” (fura-furumuka, furuma-furumuka). Complementing these variants is a “mixed” system where both stems are truncated (furumu-rumuka), to which additional reduplicated stems can also be added (furu-furumu-rumuka-muka). While each reduplicated stem is free to choose its shape independently of the others (e.g. furu-furuma-furumuka, furuma-furu-furumuka etc.), the same three possible H(igh) stem-tone patterns are observed in different inflections, predictable from the input tones: /H/ on the first stem, /H/ on the last stem, /H/ on the second mora of any stem (au choix). I show that these facts require each stem to be independently derived from the same (complete) morphological and phonological input with tone assigned prior to truncation, thereby directly supporting both reduplication as compounding (Downing 2003) and morphological doubling theory (MDT) (Inkelas & Zoll 2005).