Akan Teleteaching Course

Unit 2.6: Notes on grammar 2

The noun phrase in Akan vs. English

--------> reading direction AKAN (postmodifying structure)

<------ reading direction ENGLISH (premodifying structure)

Premodification Head Postmodification
GENITIVE; POSSESSOR
NOUN
ADJECTIVE
NUMERAL
DETERMINER
---> hene no
kaa
fofor
mmenu
no [n]
<--- chief the-of
cars
new
two
the <--
POSSESSOR PRONOUN
NOUN
ADJECTIVE
NUMERAL
DETERMINER
Ne
kaa
fofor
mmenu
no [n]
His
cars
new
two
the
-> Associatives
- > Nouns
-> Adjectives
-> Numerals
-> Determiners
Table 3:This table serves as point of departure for later sub-units dealing with nouns (nominal classes, plurals, derivation).


Determiners

Premodification Head Postmodification
GENITIVE; POSSESSOR
NOUN
ADJECTIVE
NUMERAL
DETERMINER
---> hene no
kaa
fofor
mmenu
no [n]
<--- chief the-of
cars
new
two
the <--
POSSESSOR PRONOUN
NOUN
ADJECTIVE 
NUMERAL
DETERMINER 
Ne 
kaa 
fofor 
mmenu 
no [n]
His
cars
new
two
the
-> Associatives
- > Nouns
-> Adjectives
-> Numerals
-> Determiners
Table 3a



Sample of determiners

no
definite
"the …"
y
deictic
"this …"
b
indefinite
"1. a … 2. some …"

Some examples

1. Wop kwadu? Do you like bananas (in general)?
2. Wop kwadu no? Do you want the banana(s)?
3. Wop (kwadu) b? Do you want a/some (banana(s))?
4. Wop kwadu y? Do you want this/these (banana(s))?
5. Wop? Do you want it/them?
6. Wop no seese? Do you want it/them now?
7. Wop kwadu no 'b? Do you want one/some of the banana?
***
8. Kof tn kaa. Kofi sells cars.
9. Kof tn kaa no. Kofi sells the car.
10. Kof tn kaa b. Kofi sells a car.
11. Kof tn kaa no 'b. Kofi sells some of the cars.
12. Kof tn ne kaa no (w ha). Kofi sells his car (here).
13. Kof tn ne kaa no. Kofi sells his car.
14. Kof tn ne kaa no 'b. Kofi sells some of his cars.
15. Kof tn ne kaa b. Kofi sells his car (I haven't seen it).

Comments
 

The main function of the determiners is to help determine the interlocutor how to identify or where to look for a person or thing to which the speaker wants to refer.

In many ways, the determiners in Akan function like the articles in English, i.e. the and a(n). Nevertheless, there are important differences some of which will be shown in later chapters.

Leaving aside the demonstrative y'this' for the time being, the Akan determiner paradigm recognises a three-way distinction:
kwadu/kaa The absence of a determiner denotes the class of bananas/cars in general. It tells the hearer: "Do not look for any specific banana or car."

Examples (1/8)

kwadu no/kaa no  The definite determiner (or definite article) denotes one or more known specimens of the class of bananas/cars. It tells the hearer: "I am talking about a banana/several bananas/car(s) which we had talked about earlier, or which you have seen or which you have known of already or know of all the time even without me telling you."

Examples (2/9)

kwadu b/kaa b The indefinite determiner (or definite article) denotes one or more unknown specimens of the class of bananas/cars. It tells the hearer: "I am talking about some specific banana(s) /car(s) which we had not talked about yet and which you have not known oft already and do not know of anyway all the time."

Examples (3/10)

Notes on the uses of the determiners

1. In Akan, the definite and indefinite 'articles' are not mutually exclusive as they are in English. See examples (7) and (11) above!
The Akan indefinite determiner b may refer to one or more specific entities assumed to be unknown to the hearer, e.g.a car/some cars, or to a previously unidentified subset of a set of already known entities, e.g.some of the cars: kaa no b .

2. In Akan, the 'articles' and the possessive pronouns are not mutually exclusive as they are in English. See examples (13-15) above!
For instance, in referring to my child as me ba (without article), I am assuming that the listener does not know which child I am talking about. In referring to my child as me ba no, I give to understand that I assume that the child I am talking about is known to the hearer or is the one that has already been mentioned before.

3. In Akan, the 'articles' cannot only be used as modifiers of the nominal head but can also replace it if it can be assumed that the hearer already knows the class of objects which are being talked about. In other words, determiners may function as a sort of pronouns.
See examples (3, 4,6) above.

If the noun to be replaced denotes an inanimate object, no 'it, them' which would normally be expected to take its place is deleted (ex. 5) unless an complement of place or time or some other non-sentential complement follows within the same sentence (ex. 6).

During a conversation about a chief and his car (hene kaa) one could say:
1. Mahunu no. "I have seen him/*I have seen it."
2. Mahunu no w kurom. "I have seen him (the chief) in the village." Or: "I have seen it (the car) in the village."
At the end of a sentence, the determiner no would be dropped if it referred to a inanimate entity such as a car. Therefore it can only refer to the chief in (16), the chief being animate and therefore not subject to the dropping rule.

In (17), however, where a locative complement follows, no may refer to any object, whether animate or inanimate. Therefore, in this case, it can be understood to refer to the chief or to the car.

4. In Akan, the 'articles' do not only associate with nominal expressions but also with full sentences.

-> Sentential determination
 
 

Riddle

Three young ladies (A, B, C) all intend to marry chiefs.
A says: Mep s meware ()hene
B says: Mep s meware ()hene b
C says: Mep s meware ()hene no
What is the difference between the three prospective marriage partners?
 
 

Text "the ant and the dove"

Look at the way determiners are used at the beginning of the following story.

Answer the following questions:
1. Why do all nominal expressions in (1) have b follow them, but not nsuo in (2)?
2. Why does nsuo in (3) have the article no follow it?
3. Why does no occur at the end of the first clause of (3)? -> sentential determiners
4. Explain the use of determiners in (4).

Listen!
1.  Da  koro  nkrane  k asubntene 
day one some sg-soldier_ant some go-COMPL river some on that
One day, a soldier ant went to a river

2.  reknom  nsuo,  na  kt  mu 
3s-PROG-go-drink water and 3s-go-fall-COMPL inside
in order to drink water and fell in it.

3.  nsuo  no  mu  no*  teateaa  mu  s: 
3s-fall-COMPL water DEF inside DEF 3s-shout-shout-COMPL  inside that
When it had fallen in the water it cried:

4.  Saa  ber  y**  na  aborm  nso  dua  so
So-DEF time this and dove some also stand tree some top
At this time, there was also a dove sitting on a tree.

Links

-> sentential determiners, subordination
-> pronoun chart
-> link tone chat

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