Journal of West African Languages

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The Semantics and Argument Realization Potentials of Akan Verbs of Separation The Semantics and Argument Realization Potentials of Akan Verbs of Separation


This paper explores the argument realization potentials of four separation verbs — twá ‘to cut’, bú ‘to break’, bɔ́ ‘to crack’ and pàè ‘to split’ in Akan (Kwa, Niger-Congo). It supports a Lexicalized Meaning and Manner/Result Complementarity analysis in which all alternating verbs lexicalize a single component—manner or result, (Levin and Rappaport Hovav 2013; Rappaport Hovav 2013). Based on the analysis of Akan data, we show that even though in principle all four verbs participate in the causative/inchoative alternation, when the verbs are combined with certain types of arguments, the alternation is blocked. For instance, in certain restricted contexts, a verb like twá ‘to cut’ occurs without an external cause (inchoatively). Similarly, bú ‘to break’, bɔ́ ‘to crack’ and pàè ‘to split’ show instances where the absence of an external cause triggers interpretation-shift. In all cases of blocked alternations, the verbs still maintain their lexicalized meanings i.e. they either lexicalize result or manner, but not both. We further demonstrate that the appearance or non-appearance of an external cause in the alternation is predicted by both lexical and non-lexical (contextual) factors. Crucially, we argue that in Akan, the overall discourse interpretations of verb-argument combinations determine a verb’s ability to participate in argument structure alternations.


Volume Number 47.1
Topic #1 Semantics
Topic #2 Verbs
Author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Language Family Kwa
Subject Language Akan

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