Journal of West African Languages

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On the Structure of Causatives in On the Structure of Causatives in Akan


In this article, we discuss the syntactic properties and structure of two analytic causative constructions, which we have referred to as the ‘no’ causative and ‘ɔ’ causative, in Akan (Kwa, Niger-Congo). We show that although the two analytic causative constructions have often received a unitary analysis as a serial verb construction (e.g. Osam 1994, 2004; Agyeman 2002; Morrison 2007) they, in fact, exhibit different syntactic behavior and structure in the language. In this vein, we apply Haspelmath’s (2016) definitional criteria for serial verb constructions as a diagnostic for the two causatives and show that while one of the causatives behaves similar to a serial verb construction the other does not but displays clausal embedding. We argue that the ‘no’ causative involves symmetrical sharing of the object marked causee argument by both V1 and V2 similar to what Hiraiwa and Bodomo (2008) proposed for some Dagaare serial verb constructions. Evidence for symmetric sharing of the object comes from adverb placement and reflexivization. The syntactic behavior of causatives in Akan brings to the fore the need for refinements in generalizations about so-called comparative concepts like serial verb constructions because such concepts may not be discreet, compartmentalized categories but may be distributed along a continuum.

Created 2020-Dec-11
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Created by Hasiyatu Abubakari
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