A Grammar of Vai (University of California publications in by William E. Welmers

By William E. Welmers

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4. 2 above) that sequences of three identical vowels are not ordinarily permitted. This certainly applies to forms in which the definite suffix would otherwise be the third of three identical vowels, even though all three would not have the same tone. The resultant contractions of vowels and tones are illustrated in the following, which hardly seem to require a separate statement of formal rules: laa 'a plankfish' : laa 'the plankfish1 laa 'a paddle* : laa 'the paddle laa 'a clay pot' : laa 'the clay pot' If not all of these contrasts are consistently maintained in rapid speech, it matters little to the structural analysis of the language, or for purposes of a practical orthography.

It will be noted that, in the preceding two sections, the specific form has not been used with relational nouns, but that it has regularly been used with free nouns. Although this is not an obligatory pattern, it does reflect certain realities concerning the nature of relational and free nouns. For the most part, relational nouns may be thought of as specific by definition. Specific forms have been recorded in a few ca- ses, in the speech of Jay Foboi; Fr. Kandakai considers the specific forms acceptable, but not at all different in meaning from the nonspecific forms which he ordinarily uses.

1 above), but with little if any implosion. Where word division is writ- ten (which it is in some cases for merely practical reasons or on the basis of intuition), the stem-initial consonant may still be interpreted and written as /l/. The first person singular pronoun also appears before a few morphemes with initial /'/* including /'a/ (a relational particle) and /'a/ (introducing quotations). written as /nda/ and /ndo/. Such combinations are This is paralleled by innumerable instan- ces of stem final /n/ followed by the same or similar morphemes, in which the sequence of /n/ and /*/ is interpreted and written as /nd/, and is not distinguishable from other cases of intervocalic /nd/.

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