Research Article

Assimilation and glide addition: The case of Xitsonga labiovelar nasal

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 40, issue 2, 2020 , pages: 179–185
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2020.1804277
Author(s): Paul Nkuna, South Africa


This article aims to present a case study on the Xitsonga labiovelar nasal (n’w [ŋw]) logjam. It places particular emphasis on the glide addition. The case study critically investigates the portrayal by some Xitsonga scholars of phonological processes resulting in n’w [ŋw]. The results of the investigation reveal that in Xitsonga the articulation of [ŋw] is not only brought about by pure assimilation, but that the assimilation process involves two default rules: vowel deletion and glide addition. This article challenges the view held by some Xitsonga scholars that the phonological processes resulting in [ŋw] are consonantalisation with velarisation in the study of Xitsonga phonology. This study advances that the phonological process resulting in [ŋw] is not consonantalisation with velarisation, but rather an assimilation process with glide addition.

Get new issue alerts for South African Journal of African Languages