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Expressing Location and Disposition in Nkami

Abstract :
This paper discusses the mechanisms for expressing location in Nkami, a lesser known Kwa language of Ghana. It is the outcome of a study of a large corpus of natural data, observations in the field, and responses gathered through the use of the ‘Topological Relation Picture Series (TRPS)’ elicitation tool. It shows that Nkami primarily employs the Basic Locative Construction (BLC) to characterize locative scenarios. The BLC simply characterizes the location of Figures in relation to their reference objects. Among other things, it is observed that Nkami belongs to a group of languages called ‘multi-verb’ languages, because it employs 21 locative verbs in BLC. It tentatively categorizes the 21 verbs into five semantic types: general; postural; attachment and adhesion; distribution; and propinquity/nearness; and examines their form, syntax, semantics and actual usage. It shows that besides the dispositional configuration of Figures, other compelling factors that come to play when deciding on ‘competing’ verbs to localize specific scenes include animacy, number, speaker’s competence, and speaker’s desire to be referentially accurate, inter alia. Unlike some Kwa languages such as Akan and Likpe, Nkami has distinct forms for framing the concepts lie and sleep. Similarly, whereas Nkami speakers make animacy distinction when they localize entities that are deemed to be ‘standing’, speakers of most regional languages do not.

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