On the focus strategies in Akan


Kofi Busia Abrefa
Issa O. Sanusi


This paper examines the focus strategies in Akan, a Kwa language of the Niger-Congo family, within the framework of the Minimalist Programme (MP). The aim is to revisit the two focus strategies in Akan (i.e., ex-situ and in-situ focus strategies). Akan focus constructions have received considerable attention in the extant literature; however, none of these works paid particular attention to the in-situ focus strategy attested in the language. Also, linguists working on Akan focus constructions hardly agree on what the focus markers in the language are. The data for the study were collected through introspective approach and informant method. With ample and illuminating data, the study revealed that both the in-situ and ex-situ focus strategies are attested in Akan. In addition, it was established that the particles nà, né, and can be considered as the real focus markers in Akan. However, the particle dèɛ̀ cannot be considered as a focus marker, contrary to the claims by some of the linguists working on Akan focus constructions (see, for instance, Boadi, 1974; Saah, 1998; Marfo, 2005). 

Keywords: Akan, focus strategies, in-situ, ex-situ, focus markers, the Minimalist Programme




How to Cite
On the focus strategies in Akan. (2021). Journal of Linguistics and Foreign Languages, 2(2). https://royalliteglobal.com/jlfl/article/view/411

How to Cite

On the focus strategies in Akan. (2021). Journal of Linguistics and Foreign Languages, 2(2). https://royalliteglobal.com/jlfl/article/view/411


Abrefa, K. B. (2018). A phono-syntactic analysis of focus constructions in Akan, Ghana. A Ph.D. Thesis submitted to the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.

Ameka, F. K. (2010). Information packaging constructions in Kwa: Micro-variation and typology. In: Aboh, E. O. and Essegbey J. (eds.) Topics in Kwa Syntax. Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 78, 141-176.

Arokoyo, B. E. (2013). Unlocking focus constructions. Chridamel Publishing House, Ilorin.

Awobuluyi, O. (1978a). Focus constructions as noun phrases. Linguistic Analysis 4, 93-114.

Beath, T. (1999a). The inferential gap condition. Pragmatics 9(2), 249-280.

Boadi, L. A. (1974). Focus-marking in Akan. Linguistics 140, 5-57.

Boškovic, Z. (2013). Principles and Parameters theory and Minimalism. In: Marcel den Dikken (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of Generative Syntax. Cambridge University Press.

Chomsky, N. (1993). A minimalist program for linguistic theory. In: Kenneth Hale and Samuel J. Keyser (eds.), The view from building 20: Essays in linguistics in honour of Sylvain Bromberger, 1-52. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Chomsky, N. (1995). The Minimalist Program. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA

Dakubu, M. E. K. (1992). Contrast in context: topic, focus and definiteness in Ga. Journal of West African Languages 22(2), 3-16.

Dik, S. C. (1997). The Theory of Functional Grammar. Part 1. The structure of the clause. Mouton, Berlin.

Dik, S., Maria E. H., de Jong J. R., Djiang S. I., Stroomer H., & de Vries L. (1981). On the typology of focus phenomena. In: Hoekstra T, van der Hulst H, Moortgat M. (eds.) Perspectives on functional grammar. Dordrecht: Foris.

Dolphyne, F. A. (1988). The Akan (Twi-Fante) Language: Its Sound System and Tonal Structure. Accra, Ghana Universities Press.

Drubig, H. B. (2000). Towards a typology of focus and focus constructions. Retrieved from u-002-ssfbv001.uni-tuebingen.de/sfb441/b2/papers/DrubigTypol.pdf

Eaton, H. C. (2002). The grammar of focus in Sandawe. A Ph.D. Thesis submitted to the University of Readings, UK.

Ellis, J. & Boadi, L. (1969). ‘To be’ in Twi. In: The verb to ‘Be’ and its Synonyms, 1-71. Springer Netherlands.

Franks, S. (1998). Clitics in Slavic. Paper presented at the Comparative Slavic Morphosyntax Workshop, Spencer Creek, Indiana, June 1998.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1967). Notes on transitivity and theme in English Part 2. Journal of Linguistics, 3, 199-244.

Jackendoff, R. (1972). Semantic interpretation in generative grammar. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kobele G. & Torrence H. (2006). Intervention and focus in Asante Twi. ZAS Papers in Linguistics, 46, 161-184.

Kroeger, P. (2004). Analyzing Syntax: A lexical-functional approach. Cambridge University Press.

Lambrecht, K. (1994). Information Structure and Sentence Form. UK: Cambridge University Press.

Marantz, A. (1995). The minimalist program. In W. Gert (ed.) Government and binding and the minimalist program. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Marfo, C. O. (2005). Aspects of Akan grammar and the phonology-syntax interface. Ph.D. Dissertation. The University of Hong Kong.

Obiamalu, G. O. (2013). Aspects of the morphosyntax of Igbo functional categories: A Minimalist Approach. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation.

Osam, E. K. (2004). The Trondheim lectures. An introduction to the structure of Akan: its verbal and multiverbal systems. Legon: Department of Linguistics.

Saah, K. K. (1988). Wh-questions in Akan. Journal of West African Languages, 18(1), 17-28.

Saah, K. K. (1998). Focus constructions in Akan: meaning and structure. Paper given at the 29th annual conference on African linguistics, Yale University.

Sornicola, R. (1999). Topic, focus and word order. In: K. Brown and J. Miller (eds.), Concise Encyclopedia of Grammatical Categories, 375-380. Elsevier Science Ltd, Oxford.

Van Valin, R. & La Polla, R. (1997). Syntax: Structure, meaning and function. Cambridge University Press.

Yusuf, O. (1990). Yoruba copula ni. Journal of West African Languages, 20(1), 83-93.

Similar Articles

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.