Cardinal numerals in Akan: A Construction Morphology account


  • Clement Kwamina Insaidoo Appah Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana
  • Reginald Akuoko Duah University of Ghana
  • Obadele Bakari Kambon University of Ghana



Akan, Cardinal numeral, Construction Morphology, Constructional idiom, Template unification


This paper presents a Construction Morphology account of complex cardinal numeral formation in Akan (Kwa, Niger-Congo). Through a detailed description of the Akan numeral system, which is decimal, we identify various ranges of cardinal numerals and show that they share structures with other constructions in the language because they are either compounds or coordinate constructions. We show that, consistent with crosslinguistic patterns, the two arithmetic operations that underpin the construction of cardinal numerals in Akan are addition and multiplication and they are formally realised differently. While multiplication is achieved mainly through compounding (and reduplication), addition is expressed mainly through compounding and coordination. The Construction Morphology framework allows us to account for the full range of Akan cardinal numerals in a consistent manner, showing how numerals relate to other constructions in the language. We posit two constructional schemas for the two arithmetic operations, with various subschemas for different instantiating constructions, including some constructional idioms in which certain recurrent forms are pre-specified.

Author Biography

Clement Kwamina Insaidoo Appah, Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana

Clement Kwamina Insaidoo Appah ( is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Ghana. He holds a PhD in Linguistics from Lancaster University in the UK and was a Commonwealth Scholar (2008-2012). His research interest lies in Kwa morpho-syntax. His recent work has been in Linguistic Morphology and Morphological theory (Construction Morphology). He has published extensively on issues such as compounding, nominalization, diminutives, numeral constructions, serial verbs constructions and humor. An area of emphasis in his work has been how to account for properties of complex linguistic expressions that do not come from their constituents. / 


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08/31/2023 — Updated on 09/01/2023


How to Cite

Appah, C., Duah, R. A., & Kambon, O. (2023). Cardinal numerals in Akan: A Construction Morphology account. Ghana Journal of Linguistics, 12(1), 48–72. (Original work published August 31, 2023)

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