Anna Pucilowski

University of Oregon




Aspects of the Phonetics and Phonology of Ho


Ho is one of the major North Munda languages, with around 1 million speakers, yet it has been given much less attention that the other major North Munda languages: Santali and Mundari (notable exceptions include Deeney 2002, 2005 and Anderson et al. 2008).

This paper is a description of the phonetic and phonological system of Ho, and is part of an on-going study into the grammar of Ho. The data for this study were collected during a three month field trip to Jharkhand, India in 2008.   Single words were collected for a Talking Dictionary and later analyzed using Praat software for phonetic analysis.

An interesting and hitherto undescribed feature of Ho's phonological system is the prenasalization of voiced stops, e.g., /balu/ → [mbalu] 'bear'. Voiced stops are preceded by a homorganic nasal which is not equivalent to a full nasal consonant. This is most obvious word initially but it can also be observed word medially. In this paper I present the prenasalized stops and claim that they are a phonetic process, observable in all the speakers I recorded.

Another of the more interesting features in Ho concerns the vowel system. There has been some disagreement over whether Ho has phonemic vowel length. In this paper I argue that that vowel length is indeed contrastive based on several minimal pairs as well as measurements of vowel length. There is also discussion of Ho's vowel harmony, which is of a type based on height. We will see that morphemes that harmonize reflect a sort of morphological "closeness," revealing interaction between phonological and morphological structures.



Anderson, G. D. S., Osada, T. & Harrison K. D. 2008. 'Ho and the other Khewarian Languages' in G. D. S Anderson (ed.), The Munda Languages. New York: Routledge. pp. 195-250.

Deeney, J. 2002. Ho Grammar and Vocabulary. Ranchi: Xavier Ho Publications.

Deeney, J. 2005. Ho-English Dictionary. Ranchi: Xavier Ho Publications.