It has been suggested that all languages may have at least one demonstrative, even though their types, forms and functions may vary. The objective of this paper is two fold. First, it seeks to give a description of the types and forms of demonstratives in Akan, a Niger-Congo (Kwa branch) language spoken in Ghana. Following Diessel's (1999) categorization, four different syntactic positions for Akan demonstratives, belonging to different grammatical categories, are identified. These are demonstrative pronouns, demonstrative determiners, demonstrative adverbs and demonstrative identifiers. Second, the paper addresses the issue of reference resolution with regard to these demonstratives, particularly those with a distal-proximal dichotomy. Using Gundel et al's (1993) Givenness Hierarchy, it will be argued that the proximal demonstrative is 'activated.' On the other hand, whereas the actual cognitive status of the referent of the distal demonstrative is familiar, this information is not encoded but it is arrived at as a result of combining its encoded cognitive status of 'unique identifiability' with other contextual information.
Selected Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on African Linguistics
edited by Doris L. Payne and Jaime Peña
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