Serialising languages: Satellite-framed, verb-framed or neither


  • Felix K. Ameka Docent Universitair Leiden University Netherlands
  • James Essegbey Associate Professor Linguistics University of Florida Gainesville USA



serial verb constructions, translational motion, verb-framed, satellite-framed, equipollently-framed


The diversity in the coding of the core schema of motion, i.e., Path, has led to a traditional typology of languages into verb-framed and satellite-framed languages. In the former Path is encoded in verbs and in the latter it is encoded in non-verb elements that function as sisters to co-event expressing verbs such as manner verbs. Verb serializing languages pose a challenge to this typology as they express Path as well as the Co-event of manner in finite verbs that together function as a single predicate in translational motion clause. We argue that these languages do not fit in the typology and constitute a type of their own. We draw on data from Akan and Frog story narrations in Ewe, a Kwa language, and Sranan, a Caribbean Creole with Gbe substrate, to show that in terms of discourse properties verb serializing languages behave like Verb-framed with respect to some properties and like Satellite-framed languages in terms of others. This study fed into the revision of the typology and such languages are now said to be equipollently-framed languages

Author Biographies

Felix K. Ameka, Docent Universitair Leiden University Netherlands

Felix K. Ameka (PhD Australian National University) is Docent Universitair at Leiden University in the Netherlands. His research interests include language documentation and description, syntax, semantics and pragmatics and linguistic typoology.

James Essegbey, Associate Professor Linguistics University of Florida Gainesville USA

James Essegbey(PhD Leiden University) is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Florida, Gainesville USA. Major research interests include language documentation, description, and the interfaces between semantics and syntax on the one hand, semantics and pragmatics on the other.


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How to Cite

Ameka, F. K., & Essegbey, J. (2013). Serialising languages: Satellite-framed, verb-framed or neither. Ghana Journal of Linguistics, 2(1), 19-38.