• Stephen T.M. Lukusa University of Botswana
  • Gabanamotse B. Mogara University of Botswana


In order to explain how tone works in Ikalanga infinitives, this description uses data collected from native speakers and glossaries, verified with the help of dictionary data from other languages. The authors preferred to diversify the data sample in such a way as to include infinitive verbs representing several morphological types so that their description may not be skewed.
The presentation therefore contains two major parts: (1) the morphological part which explains the structure of infinitive verbs and provides details on the syllabic configuration of the components on which tones are anchored and (2) the tonological part which attempts to derive tonal patterns into which several Ikalanga infinitive verbs that share a common behaviour fall. The presentation adheres to Autosegmental Phonology according to which phonological representation is multi-tiered. In this framework, tones appear on an autonomous tear and are not necessarily affected by changes occurring on other tiers though they may be linked to elements on the other tiers by association lines.
This study ends with proposing a mixed approach that combines tone and accent to explain some strange behaviours unaccounted for by an exclusively tonal approach. Such a mixed approach uses dynamic tonic accents which act like magnets. They move around to decisive positions which attract H-tones that are essential in determining the tonal pattern of words as they have the ability to spread from left to right to contiguous unaccented positions.

Author Biographies

Stephen T.M. Lukusa, University of Botswana
Department of African Languages and Literature
Gabanamotse B. Mogara, University of Botswana
Department of African Languages and Literature, Senior Lecturer