Akan Teleteaching Course

4.6: Notes on grammar 2

The associative

The associative expresses various types of relations between concepts, such as possessive, part-whole, social relationships, etc. The first element may be a pronoun or a noun (or even a nominal phrase).

In the associative (or genitive) construction the possessor precedes the possessed.
The -/o-, -/e- prefixes of the second element, i.e. the possessed (noun) are dropped but the a-/N- prefixes are retained:
Kofi + nan Kofi nan Kofi's leg
Ado + etuo Ado tuo Addo's gun
Abenaa + kunu Abenaa !kunu Abenaa's husband
ne + oyere ne yere his wife
wo + agya w' agya your father
me + mpa me m!pa my bed

1. Identifying the possessor by a pronoun

Pronouns Before noun with a- Meaning
me m' my
wo w' your
*   his/her
ne n' his/her/its
yn   our
mo   your
wn   their
Table 1: Possessive pronouns

*Only for seniors

Tone variation is an important element in these constructions (cf. tonal patterns of pronouns).
Category Examples Possessor (pronoun) Possessed (noun) Possessor+ Possessed
preceding monosyllabic stem preceding di- or polysyllabic stem with 1st Low-toned stem syllable with 1st High-toned stem syllable
Seniors: kinship:
okunu, nana, agya, na, wfa
High-toned - +Downstep me !kunu, yn nana,ne na, me wfa
Juniors / Dependents: kinship:
yere, ba, na!na, wfaase
Low-toned - - ne yere, me ba, ne na!na, me wfaase
inherent (inalienable): body parts: nsa, kotodwe, akoma, koko, sr Low-toned High-toned - me nsa, ne kotodwe, n' ako!ma,me koko, me sr
non-inherent (alienable): dan, sika… High-toned Low-toned High-toned +Downstep me !dan, me si!ka
Table 2: Tonal change with associative constructions (pronoun+noun)

Pronouns are emphasised by the particle ara 'own':
me ara me nua my own sibling
wo ara wo kaa your own car
no ara ne nsa his own hand
yn ara yn ba our own child
mo ara mo nkwa your own life
wn ara wn nana their own grandparent

2. Identifying the possessor by a noun

If the first element in the associative construction, the possessor, is a noun, it retains its basic tonal structure. The prefix of the possessed noun, on the other hand, will only undergo a change if the final tone of the possessor noun is High; in this case the final High tone will be copied (-> tone-spreading) to the subsequent low-toned prefix. A stem-initial High tone of the possessed noun is downstepped after the High-tone prefix, but only if the association between the possessor and the possessed is alienable:
Possessed with initial Low tone
Possessed nouns (Ex.)
Possessor + Possessed
inherent (inalienable): Kofi High-toned nsa 'hand' Kofi nsa
Ado Ado nsa
non-inherent (alienable) Kofi High-toned +Downstep ns 'liquor' Kofi n!s
Ado Ado ns
Table 3: Tonal change with associative constructions (noun+noun prefix)

Note: No tonal change occurs on prefix-less possessed elements beginning with High tone:
Kwadwo tekt ne. "It is Kwadwo's ticket."

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