Syncope and the drive towards minimization in Colloquial Bamana

Thumbnail Image
Can’t use the file because of accessibility barriers? Contact us with the title of the item, permanent link, and specifics of your accommodation need.



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


IULC Publications


Data from two varieties of Bamana, a Mande language spoken in West Africa, illustrate that permissible syllable shapes vary between the two types. A comparison of Classic Bamana spoken in Segou, Mali and that spoken by a younger cohort of individuals in the Malian capital, Bamako, reveals that the latter variety is synchronically developing complex CCV and CVC syllable shapes, whereas the classical variety permits only maximal CV syllables. We posit that the development of these syllable shapes represents an overall drive towards word minimization in this variety of the language. This study formalizes minimization in Colloquial Bamana in an optimality theoretic framework and illustrates the support that these developing processes in Bamana provide for the Split Margin Approach to the syllable, developed in Baertsch (2002). Preferential deletion patterns, the role of phonotactics in driving these patterns, and other processes interacting with and/or preventing syncope from occurring are also explored.



phonology, child phonology, clinical phonology, phonological disorders in children, phonological treatment, Learnability Project, language acquisition


Green, C. R., Davis, S., Diakite, B., & Baertsch, K. (2009).Syncope and the drive towards minimization in Colloquial Bamana. In J. C. Anderson, C. R. Green, & S. G. Obeng (Eds.), Indiana University Working Papers in Linguistics Volume 8: African linguistics across the discipline (pp. 109-131). Bloomington, IN: IULC Publications.


Link(s) to data and video for this item



© 2009 Christopher R. Green, Stuart Davis, Boubacar Diakite, and Karen Baertsch