The Morphopragmatics of the Diminutive Morpheme (-Ba /-Wa ) in Akan
Lexis: E-Journal in English Lexicology, Issue 6: “Diminutives and Augmentatives in the Languages of the World”, pp. 85-103.
19 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2011 Last revised: 15 Jan 2015
Date Written: 2011
The present paper is concerned with the diminutive morpheme -wa/-ba in Akan. It examines the form, the origin and the various meanings associated with diminutive forms in the language. We attribute the origin of the diminutive to the lexical word for ‘child/offspring’, ba, basing our argument on language internal evidence as well as cross-linguistic generalizations. The identified meanings of the Akan diminutive are as follows: small, young/offspring, feminine, member, insignificant/nonserious, affection/admiration and contempt/disdain. Having identified the basic meaning of the diminutive as ‘small’, Jurafsky’s (1996) Radial Category theory provides us with a basis to adequately account for the various meanings; drawing a link, through metaphors and inferences, between the diachronic and the synchronic meanings.
Keywords: Akan, diminutive, inference, metaphor, morphopragmatics, radial category
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