Interrogative Pronouns in Dagbani and Likpakpaanl


  • Samuel Issah University of Education, Winneba
  • Samuel Owoahene Acheampong Goethe University and Yendi College of Education


: interrogative pronouns, Mabia, inventory, grammatical properties, number marking


This paper provides an analysis of the properties of interrogative pronouns of Mabia languages drawing data from Dagbani and Likpakpaanl. We focus on the inventory, internal structure, and key grammatical characterisation of the interrogative pronouns. We contend that interrogative pronouns are salient syntactic elements in the content question systems of these languages. In addition, we demonstrate that number marking, distinction between human/non-human and lexical ambiguity are salient grammatical properties of these interrogative pronouns. We further show that the inflection for number employs both suppletive and nonsuppletive patterns. We also contend that the interrogative pronouns that specify for the semantic domains of [+human], [-human] and [+thing] are sensitive to number, since they alternate for plurality (ŋuni ~banima ( ~ who-pl), bo~bonima ( ~what-pl), dini~dinnima ( ~ what.thing-pl) for Dagbani and (ŋma ~bilabi ( ~ who-pl), nilan ~ bilabi ( ~what-pl), ba ~ ba ( ~ what.thing-pl) for Likpakpaanl.  Because the root may differ or be the same from that of the plural as evident in both languages, we propose that number marking in these interrogative words exhibit both suppletive and nonsuppletive patterns. The data are based on native introspection of the authors who are native speakers of these languages. This paper is important because of its empirical and theoretical contribution to the study of the Mabia languages.



Author Biography

Samuel Owoahene Acheampong , Goethe University and Yendi College of Education

Brief description of authors:

Dr. Samuel Alhassan ISSAH is a senior lecturer in linguistics and Indigenous languages at the Department of Gur-Gonja Education at the University of Education, Winneba. He holds an MPhil in Theoretical linguistics and PhD in linguistics (syntax) awarded by the University of Tromsø in Norway, and Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany respectively. His research focuses on the syntax of Dagbani and related languages, information structure (focus realizations) of Dagbani and related Mabia Languages, the syntax of anaphoric elements, the expression of negation, the syntax of elliptical phenomena and minority languages revitalization.


Samuel Owoahene ACHEAMPONG is a Tutor at the Languages Department of the St. Vincent College of Education, Yendi. He holds an MPhil in Applied Linguistics from the University of Education Winneba, and a first Degree in English awarded by the University of Cape Coast. He is currently a Doctoral Student in Linguistics at the Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. His research interest is in the Syntax and Morphology with focus on Likpakpaanl and Gur (Mabia) languages.


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Interrogative Pronouns in Dagbani and Likpakpaanl




How to Cite

Issah, S., & Acheampong , S. O. (2021). Interrogative Pronouns in Dagbani and Likpakpaanl. Ghana Journal of Linguistics, 10(2), 30–57. Retrieved from