Exocentric compounds in Akan

  • Clement K. I. Appah
  • WORD Structure, October 2017, Edinburgh University Press
  • DOI: 10.3366/word.2017.0106

Exocentric Compounds in Akan

What is it about?

In linguistics morphology, a compound is a word that is formed by combining at least two other words. Ordinarily, the compound will share properties with one of its constituents. It may even be a subtype of the constituent it shares properties with, so that a "school bus" is understood to be a subtype of "bus". This type of compound is said to be "endocentric". This is paper is about the class of compounds that are classified as exocentric because the compounds are not subtypes of either of their constituents. A simple example in English is "pickpocket" which refers to "a person who picks pocket" but the referent is neither a "pick" nor a "pocket". In this paper, I study exocentric compounds in Akan, a Kwa Language that is spoken mainly in the West African country of Ghana. The papers show which types of exocentric compounds posited in two papers by Laurie Bauer are found in Akan. The framework used in this paper is Construction Morphology (CxM) which makes it possible to present missing properties of the compounds without positing additional formal units to bear missing semantic properties.

Why is it important?

This study is very important because, it is the first paper to apply Laurie Bauer's typology to a single language. It tests the robustness of Bauer's typology and shows that three of the five types posited are attested in Akan. Again, this study is important because it shows that the class of exocentric is not as marginal as the literature presents it. This calls for studies in other languages to show how widespread the phenomenon of exocentricity is and the types of exocentric compounds that may be found in the languages of the world.


Dr. Clement Kwamina Insaidoo Appah
University of Ghana

This paper shows the widespread nature of exocentric compounds in Akan. The Construction Morphology approach to handling holistic properties is innovative.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Clement Kwamina Insaidoo Appah