Conversational Strategies in Akan

ISBN 978-3-89645-262-7

Conversational Strategies in Akan

Prosodic Features and Discourse Categories

Author: Samuel Gyasi Obeng. Series edited by: Wilhelm J.G. Möhlig.

Series: Verbal Art and Documentary Literature in African Languages Volume 7

16 pp. Roman, 174 pp.
author and subject index, map of Ghanaian languages
Text language(s): English
Format: 160 x 240 mm
320 g
€ 29.80

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Besides the exchange of ideas, prosodic aspects like pronunciation and intonation are very important in any conversation. The author chooses Akan, a Kwa language spoken in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire und Togo by about 8,3 mill. people, to describe existing prosodological phenomena. For example, in the Akan society it is insulting if a younger person speaks louder than an older one. This is the same for persons of lower social status talking to persons of higher status.

Since most linguistic and sociological studies have hitherto neglected the prosodic phenomena, the author’s main concern in his empirical study is the relevance of prosody in natural conversational interaction in Akan. Specifically, he describes how such prosodic resources as tempo, loudness, pitch, pause, and voice quality are employed by interlocutors to manage interactional categories like turn-taking, overlapping talk, repair and other conversational categories.

The author thus explores the link between an aspect of formal linguistics (phonetics) with social science (sociology, ethnomethodological conversational analysis).

In our programme, further analyses of linguistic pragmatics in African languages have been published, see the following links:

Accompanying material:



Summing up: The author has clearly demonstrated that the combining of phonetic and prosodic studies with conversational analysis techniques provides deeper insights into the Akan discourse. His study is of great importance and has a pioneer value, as apart from Klein-Arendt’s work on Mombasa Suahili, there are no similar ones concerning African languages [...].

Stanislaw Pilaszewicz in Studies of the Department of African Languages and Cultures, 28/2000, 81-84

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