Don Chukwuemeka Utulu


Segmental assimilation processes are phonological patterns that involve the adoption of a feature(s) by one segment from another thereby making the two assume total or partial structural identity. The objective of this study is two folds: (1) to use existing Èwùlù data to examine a number of segmental assimilation processes: vowel nasalisation, vowel (dis)harmony, homorganic nasal assimilation and vowel assimilation deployed to modify sound segments in local contexts in native phonology of Èwùlù (Igboid: Delta State, Nigeria). (2) To provide further insight into some recurrent natural feature spreading phonological phenomena found in Benue Congo languages of Nigeria from a dialectal perspective. Since assimilation processes/rules are characterised as association or spread of feature(s) of one segment A to a neighbouring segment B following the theoretical assumptions of phonologists of the Post-SPE era, the framework adopted in this work is autosegmental theory (Goldsmith, 1976). In the study, the autosegmental alignment of the features, [±nasal]; [±ATR]; [labial], [coronal], [dorsal]; [±high] and [±back] are explored to capture the association/spread of feature(s) from trigger segments to target segments in the aforementioned assimilation processes most of which typify feature-filling assimilation processes.  


Article visualizations:

Hit counter



Èwùlù, segmental assimilation processes, trigger segments, target segments, features

Full Text:



Abiodun, M. (2010). Phonology. In Basic Linguistics for Nigerian Languages. O. Yusuf (ed.) Port-Harcourt: Landmarks Research Foundation, University of Port Harcourt.

Aziza, R.O. (2002). Nasality in Urhobo: An Autosegmental perspective. Journal of West African Languages, 29. 2: 11-21.

Blench, R.M. (1989). A Proposed New Classification of Benue-Congo Languages. Afrikanische Arbeitspapiere, Köln, 17:115-147.

Casali, R. F. (2008). ‘ATR Harmony in African Languages’ Language and Linguistics Compass 2. 3. JSTOR. Web, 496-549.

Chomsky, N. and Halle, M. (1968). The Sound Pattern of English. New York. Haper and Row.

Clements, G. N. (1981). Akan Vowel Harmony: A Non-linear Analysis. In G.N. Clements (Ed.), Harvard Studies in Phonology 2. Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistics Club.

Clements, G. N. and Hume, E. V. (1995). The Internal Organization of Speech Sounds. In J.A. Goldsmith (Ed.). The Handbook of Phonological Theory, 245-306.

Crystal, D. (2008). A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. (Sixth edn.), London: Blackwell.

Emenanjo, E. N. (1978). Elements of Modern Igbo Grammar. Ibadan: Oxford University Press.

Ezimechine, E. O. (2014). A History of Ewulu People of Delta State, Nigeria, from the Earliest Time up to 1960. M.A. Dissertation, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.

Goldsmith, J. A. (1976). Autosegmental Phonology. Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistics Club.

Gussenhonven, C and Jacobs, A. (2011). Understanding Phonology. Hodder Education, Hachette Livre, UK.

Iloene, G. (2010). Igbo Phonology. In O. Yusuf (ed.). Basic Linguistics for Nigerian Languages. Shebiotimo Publications, 169-187.

Jurgec, P. (2011). Feature Spreading 2.0: A Unified Theory of Assimilation. Ph.D Thesis, University of Tromso.

Katamba, F. (1989). An Introduction to Phonology. London: Longman Group Ltd.

Lindau, M. (1975). Features for Vowels. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics.

Sagey, E.C. (1986). The Representation of Features and Relations in Non-linear Phonology, PhD, MIT.

Smolek, A. (2010). Vowel Harmony in Tuvan and Igbo: Statistical and Optimality Theoretic Analyses. Doctoral Thesis. Swarthmore College.

Stewart, J. M. (1967). Tongue Root Position in Akan Vowel Harmony. Phonetica 16,185-204.

Utulu, D. C. (2015a). Ewulu Tone System: A Preliminary Investigation. In Uniuyo Journal of Humanities 9: 1. 106-125

__________ (2015b). Verbal Reduplication in Ewulu. In ANSU Journal of Arts and Social Sciences, Vol. 1 (4).The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Igbariam: Anambra State University.

__________ (2018). The Patterning of Segments and Tones in Èwùlù Compounding Process. International Journal of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, Vol. 5 (3), p. 1-10.

___________ in prep. Syllable Structure Constraints, Repair Strategies and Segmental Processes in Èwùlú.

Williamson, K. (1989). Benue-Congo Overview. In The Niger-Congo Languages. J. Bendor-Samuel ed. 246-274. Lanham: University Press of America.

Yul-Ifode, S. (2008). A Course in Phonology: with an Appendix on: Williamson’s Distinctive Features. Port Harcourt: Riverside Communications.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Don Chukwuemeka Utulu

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The research works published in this journal are free to be accessed. They can be shared (copied and redistributed in any medium or format) and\or adapted (remixed, transformed, and built upon the material for any purpose, commercially and\or not commercially) under the following terms: attribution (appropriate credit must be given indicating original authors, research work name and publication name mentioning if changes were made) and without adding additional restrictions (without restricting others from doing anything the actual license permits). Authors retain the full copyright of their published research works and cannot revoke these freedoms as long as the license terms are followed.

Copyright © 2015-2018. European Journal of Literature, Language and Linguistics Studies (ISSN 2559 - 7914 / ISSN-L 2559 - 7914). All rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library. All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms. All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and standards formulated by Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003) and  Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003) and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Copyrights of the published research works are retained by authors.