Optimizing structure: The case of the ‘CrV’ syllable of Akan


  • Charles O. Marfo Senior Lecturer Department of Modern Languages Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Kumasi, Ghana




Akan, economy (of speech), syllable structure, vowel harmony, vowel height


This paper sets out to look into the ‘CCV’ syllable structure of Akan, specifically ‘CrV’, as to whether or not the seeming consonant cluster is phonological in the language. Following Dolphyne (1988), we attempt to discuss the issue with the claim that the ‘CrV’ structure of Akan is only a phonetic/surface realization through economy of expression (e.g. Bresnan 2001) motivation. In terms of Optimality Theoretic analysis (e.g. Prince and Smolensky 1993), an output-based approach to grammar, where the heart of the phonology consists of a hierarchy of ranked and violable universal constraints therefore, it is argued that where ‘CrV’ seems to have been realized, it is only so because of an application of an economy-motivated process of vowel elision that results in a syllable reduction and its subsequent fusion into a preceding one. The ensuing ‘CrV’ should thus be analyzed into ‘CV.CV’. Three factors; occurrence of /r/, attainment of vowel harmony and the specification of the feature high, are discussed as accounting for the realization of ‘CCV’.

Author Biography

Charles O. Marfo, Senior Lecturer Department of Modern Languages Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Kumasi, Ghana

Charles Ofosu Marfo (PhD Hong Kong) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana. His research interests include various aspects of linguistics and communication. cmarfo@gmail.com.


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How to Cite

Marfo, C. O. (2013). Optimizing structure: The case of the ‘CrV’ syllable of Akan. Ghana Journal of Linguistics, 2(1), 63-78. https://doi.org/10.4314/gjl.v2i1.36