Rice University

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Thesis Defense

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Doctoral Candidate

A Grammar of Ga

Friday, April 14, 2017
9:00 AM  to 12:00 PM

460  Sewall Hall

This dissertation constitutes a description of the grammar - mainly the morphology and syntax - of Ga, a Kwa language spoken in Accra, Ghana by about 700,000 people. The aim is to present a comprehensive, usage-based account of Ga as it is spoken currently, while incorporating diachronic evidence where available to further understand and account for the synchronic data. In the first chapter, background information is given on the Ga people, their history and culture. There is also a brief description of basic phonetics and phonology. Chapter 2 looks at the concept of the word, word classes and their associated morphology. Ga has all the major word classes: nouns, verbs and adjectives. It has bound subject pronominal clitics and free object pronominals. There is a sizeable class of property concepts that are expressed by verbs. Ideophones are very common and belong mainly to the adverb and adjective class. Chapter 3 is dedicated to verbs. Verb morphology is characterized mainly by suffixation. Ga is an aspectual language with a recently established future time prefix that is becoming more tense-like. Ga? is nominative-accusative with highly transitive clauses and an indispensable subject. Chapter 4 discusses serial verb constructions. These were found to be pervasive and an important means of achieving valency changes and carrying out aspectual functions. As a result, morphological operations to alter valency are few. Major voice categories are manifested mainly through periphrastic means (Chapter 5). Chapter 6 looks at nominalizations generally. In Ga, grammatical nominalizations have functions ranging from relativization to adverbial expression and complementation. Topic and focus constructions are examined in the final chapter. Focus constructions are utilized for contrast and emphasis. Topic constructions are made up almost entirely of left-dislocated constructions. They may also mark contrast, and are used discursively to highlight background information.

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