We are happy to announce a talk by Reginald Akuoko Duah (Berlin/Ghana) in the Semantics Colloquium.
The talk will take place on campus in IG 4.301.
Title: Phylogenetics of conative animal calls: The case of Akan
Date: May 4, 2023
Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct
The present paper aims to expand our understanding of the phylogenetics of conative animal calls (CACs) by verifying their formal dissimilarity in closely related languages. To do so, we examine CACs in three varieties of Akan (Kwa, Niger-Congo), i.e., Asante, Bono, and Fante, spoken in the Ashanti, Bono, and Central regions of Ghana, respectively. Given that Akan CACs have neither been documented nor analyzed in a systematic manner thus far, our research also seeks to improve the knowledge of human-to-animal communication in these three language verities. In harmony with the theoretical stance adopted in the most recent works on CACs (Andrason & Karani 2021; Andrason 2022; forthcoming; Andrason & Phiri 2023), we embrace a prototypical approach to linguistic categorization (Evans & Green 2006; Janda 2015). Accordingly, in order to determine the (extent of the) phylogenetic convergence/divergence of CACs, we test CACs identified in Asante, Bono, and Fante for their compliance with a cross-linguistic prototype. The results show that the concept of motion is the most relevant semantic component of CACs in Akan. Indeed, motion-related CACs are significantly more common than CACs unrelated to motion. Among all the 106 CACs in Asante, Bono, and Fante counted jointly, 105 express some nuance of motion (99%) with 92 constructions (87%) being exclusively associated with motion. Among the motion-related CACs, summonses predominate with 50 constructions attested in Akan, of which 36 are exclusively employed to order animals to come. Directionals and dispersals are less numerous. Among the motion-related CACs, summonses predominate with 50 constructions attested in Akan, of which 36 are exclusively employed to order animals to come. Directionals and dispersals, however, are less numerous. This translates onto the following hierarchy: summons → directionals → dispersal. However, when each variety is considered separately, the resulting hierarchies of motion-related actions differ both from this global hierarchy and from each other.