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Hill defines the term phonotactics as `the area of phonemics which covers the structural characteristics of sequences’ (Hill : 1958 : 68). To him phonotactics is essentially a description of the distribution of the phonemes after their identification. The sequences of phonemes can be described in terms of their clustering habits. A cluster is a sequence of two or more phonemes of the same class without the intervention of a phoneme of another class. As far as the Sema language is concerned, clusters of both vowels and of `consonants are possible. At the phonemic level, Sema language has tones (a supra-segmental feature) but this supra-segmental feature cannot occur without simultaneous segmental elements. That is, they always co-occur with segmental phonemes. In addition, there isn’t any special limitations in the occurrence of different levels of tones. All types of permutations and commutations of different levels of tones are possible, though a noun beginning with the vowels i/o/a/ (pronominal clinics) will always have level tone. A description of the clustering pattern in Sema follows.
A description of the clustering habits of the consonants in Sema may begin with the initial clusters of consonants. In this the largest number that can occur is three. A feature to be noted about the clusters of C1 C2 C3 consonants is that in all instances of the occurrence of C1 C2 C3 at the word initial position, h occupies either C2 or C3 position. When h occupies the C3 position, C1 is invariably a bilabial nasal and the C2 is either a voiceless stop or a lateral. In other words, in a C1 C2 C3 sequence, when h occupies the C3 position, no other consonant exception m and a voiceless stop or a lateral can occur respectively in C1 and C2 positions. Similarly when h occupies the C2 position C1 C3 positions will invariably have respectively a voiceless stop and a palatal approximant. That is, in a C1 C2 C3 sequence if h occupies the C2 position, no consonant expecting a voiceless stop and a palatal approximant can occur respectively in C1 C3 positions. At the word-initial position, a sequence of either C1 C1 C2 or C1 C2 C2 cannot occur in this language. Given below are a few words illustrating the occurrence at the word-initial position of the sequences of C1 C2 C3.
1.         m + (p, t, k, l,) +h

mph mphi `not yet’
mth mtha `deny’
mkh mkhemu `at least’
mlh mlhu `below’

2.      (p., k) + hy

phy phyu `bottom of a trunk’
khy khyumu `nothing’

Of the consonant clusters occurring at the word-initial position the number of C1 C2 consonant clusters are much higher than C1 C2 C3 consonant clusters. There are, however, some similarities in both these types of clusters, i.e., in a C1 C2 C3 cluster a number of consonants were found to occur in C2 position with m in C1 position. And all the consonants in a C1 C2 C3 clusters occurring with m in C1 position also occur in C2 position of C1 C2 C3 cluster having m in C1 position. The C1 C2 C3 clusters having m in C1 position had h in C3 position and a voiceless stop or a lateral occurred in C2 position. In C1 C2 clusters also h occurred in C1 C2 C3 cluster. In addition it occurs with some other consonants. The occurrence of C1 C2 clusters are sub-grouped into four viz., (1) those having m in C1 position, (2) those having h in C2 position, (3) those having l in C2 position, and (4) miscellaneous ones. Given below are a few words for illustrating the occurrence of C1 C2 clusters.
1.         m + (p, t, k, b, c, s, h, z, n, l)

mp- mpe `year’
mt- mtįkipi `moderate’
mk- mkas `ebony’
mb- mboms `fool’
mc- mcassi `level’
ms- msa `fear’
mh- mhó `dull weather’
mz- mza `graze cattle (v)’
mn- mna `stink (natural smell)
ml- mloba `peas’

2.        (p, t, k, q, c, m, n, l) + h

ph- phi `read’
th- thi `die’
kh- khi `make’
qh- qhi `keep’
ch- chi `cut’
mh- mhi `clouded sky’
nh- nhi `marry (girl)’
lh- lhe `relate’







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