The Syntax-Phonology Interface and Phrasing in Cisukwa, Cindali and Cilambya Relative Prosodic Clauses

  • Atikonda Akuzike Mtenje-Mkochi
  • Al Mtenje University of Malawi
Keywords: Cisukwa, Cindali, Cilambya, phonological phrase, relative clause, syntax


This paper is a descriptive analysis of the prosodic structure of relative clauses in relation to various syntactic structures in Cindali, Cisukwa and Cilambya - a cluster of related varieties spoken in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. The analysis in this paper is for the varieties spoken in Northern Malawi particularly in Chitipa district. The paper sought to answer the following questions: i) What is the prosodic structure of relative clauses of Cisukwa, Cindali and Cilambya? ii) What is the relationship between phonological phrasing of relative clauses and syntax.

The paper argues that the prosodic phrasing of Cisukwa, Cindali and Cilambya is determined by syntactic structure. This is similar to what has been observed in several other Bantu languages. The paper notes that restrictive clauses are right-bounded by a prosodic break and XPs serving as heads of relative clauses, whether as subjects, objects (both direct and indirect), or other adjuncts are normally phrased together with the relative clause.