Consonants and Vowels in the Western Gurage Variety Inor: Complex Connections between Phonemes, Allophones, and Free Alternations

  • Tsehay Abza ILOS, University of Oslo


This paper is concerned with the phonemic status of consonants and vowels of Inor, a Peripheral Western Gurage language in the southern part of Ethiopia. Determining the status of Inor consonants and vowels is a task well worth doing, as scholars disagree on their categorization. Qualitative research methodology is used in the study. The linguistic data have been collected using key informants and they have been analyzed thematically. The findings show that labialized and palatalized consonants have a pho-nemic status, even if the predictability of their occurrence cause them to be grouped in addition under the phonetic inventory of the language. It is also determined that, in addition to being the allophone of b, there are some indicators showing that a fricative bilabial ß is phonemic, though this needs further investigation. Moreover, the high central vowel ɨ has double status, being both phonemic and epenthetic.

Author Biography

Tsehay Abza, ILOS, University of Oslo
Researcher, Russian linguistics