Vol 26 No 4 (2017): Nordic Journal of African Studies
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Setswana Syllable Structure and Distribution

Thapelo J. Otlogetswe
Nordic Journal of African Studies
Published December 31, 2017


This paper investigates the frequency and distribution of Setswana syllables by analysing the frequency and distribution of (orthographic representations of) Setswana syllables in a wordlist of about 59,000 words extracted from a corpus of over 13.6 million words. The study uses Wordsmith tools to calculate syllables found at word initial, word medial and word final positions of Setswana words. Each orthographic consonant is then paired to each of the five Setswana orthographic vowels to generate a list of potential Setswana syllables. Each potential syllable is then tested for frequency and distribution in the extracted wordlist. Non-occurring syllables are discarded, leaving an inventory of all Setswana syllables that make up Setswana words. The final part investigates the distribution of the allophones [l] and [d], as well as the phoneme /g/ and confirms, with some modification, previous analyses.