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The Syntax and Collocations of Akan Ideophonic Words




Akan, Ideophones, collocation, polarity, negation sensitivity.


This paper examines the syntactic behavior of Akan ideophonic words. Scholars such as Dolphyne (1987) and Saah (1995) have dilated on the morphological behaviors of the variant in Akan negation morphemes thus generating the syntactic behaviors underpinning the operation of Akan negation inflections. Though Giannakidou (2008) asserts that negative polarity items can be found in all natural languages, it is an aspect of negation in syntax having little studies. Following Ampofo (2015) enlistment of negative polarity items in Akan, we limit the discussion to ideophones and argue that negative polarity in Akan is a syntactic feature of ideophonic nominal and modifiers having both recessive and dominant sensitivity with respect to negated constructions. Therefore, this study discusses the syntactic behavior of ideophonic polarity to affirmative and negated constructions. Their syntactic sensitivity categorizes the ideophones into affirmative polarity items (API) with a dominance for positive verbals as a typology only collocating with affirmative verbals and the category of negative polarity items (NPI) having a dominance sensitivity for negative verbals as a typology collocating negated verbals. It considers the permissibility of ideophonic modifiers in tense aspects and its corresponding collocants. The syntax- semantics of downward entailment theory and binding theory of Ladusaw (1980) and Progovac (1988) are employed to account for the syntactic behavior of ideophonic modifiers and their resulting collocants.  

Author Biographies

Isaac Nyarko, University of Education, Winneba

Isaac Nyarko is an Assistant Lecturer at Methodist College of Education, Akim Oda. His research interests include proverbs, zero morphology, harmony systems, child language phonology, non-native speaker`s phonology and the syntax-semantics of ideophones in Akan.

Samuel Amoh, University of Education, Winneba

Samuel Amoh is a lecturer in the Department of Akan-Nzema Education, Faculty of Ghanaian Languages Education, University of Education, Winneba. He is a Ph.D candidate in the same institution. His research focus is on Phonology, Morphology and Syntax.

Nicholas Obeng Agyekum, University of Education, Winneba

Nicholas Obeng Agyekum is with the University of Education,
Winneba as a Lecturer in the Akan- Nzema Department. He has
strong research interest in phonology and its interface with
morphology and syntax. As a result, he has done several works
in these linguistic aspects.


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How to Cite

Nyarko, I., Amoh, S., & Obeng Agyekum, N. (2024). The Syntax and Collocations of Akan Ideophonic Words. Ghana Journal of Linguistics, 12(3).