Hiatus Resolution Strategies in Igbo. 


A study of hiatus as concept shows that many languages of the world disprefer hiatus while some completely avoid it. Some device strategies for resolving it is cited. Hiatus is a phonological phenomenon where two different vowels occur in a juxtaposition without an intervening consonant has different repair strategies which include vowel assimilation and vowel deletion.

Different languages use different strategies in resolving hiatus to suit the nature of their grammars while some use just one of the strategies, some use a few while others may use all of these strategies. Potential vowel hiatus in the Igbo language is resolved by a number of strategies just like other languages of the world. This study establishes the occurrence of hiatus in the Igbo language as well as identifying the hiatus resolution strategies as are applicable in the language.

The hiatus resolution strategies in the language includes: – vowel assimilation and vowel deletion are identified a number of words that make up the data obtained. The analysis of the data is the keyed in one of the most current models of phonology-Optimality Theory (OT) whose emergence has brought about various changes in the theoretical trend of phonological subfield and other areas of linguistics. 


Phonology is the study of the system of speech sounds in a language. The systematic study of this speech sound in language brought in renewed scholars— Smolensky, Prince Allen, McCarthy, Kagar and others who researched upon various strategies used in languages in dealing with speech sound. The discovery of hiatus in language led to the study of hiatus resolution strategies in various languages of the word.

This research work deals with the various strategies used in resolving hiatus in the Igbo language. The phonological theory used in this work is Optimality Theory (OT). Due to the fact that the topic under research requires a theory that is universal in nature owing to the fact that constraints are universal. According to Casali (1996) Hiatus is a way of breaking vowel clusters. It is a sequence of adjacent vowels belonging to separate syllables.

Allen (1987) also notes hiatus as the hetrosyllabic adjacent of two syllabic nuclei. Furthermore, hiatus is a phonological term referring to the lack of a consonant separating two vowels in a separate syllable which has been a subject of considerable theoretical and empirical discussion and it has generally been observed that hiatus is not an acceptable configuration in many languages of the world including the Igbo language.

The Igbo language has a situation whereby certain words or expression contain syllables that are adjacent to each other and which have vowels that are not separated by a consonant. This constitutes the violation of a structural requirement which need to be resolved using a variety of strategies. Some languages do prevent it is occurrence while others seek its resolution where it occurs using strategies which may include assimilation, elision, epenthesis and vowel glides. 


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Kager,R. (1999) Optimality Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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McCarthy, J.J and A.Prince. (1993a) “Generalized Alignment” in year book of morphology,
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StudentsandScholarship Team.

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