A MORPHOSYNTACTIC AND SEMANTIC ANALYSIS OF PLACENAMES IN KWAHU IN THE EASTERN REGION OF GHANA

Philip Boateng Ansah, Patricia Beatrice Mireku-Gyimah

Abstract


African names, as signs of language, can be divided into two morpho-syntactic categories: they are either nominal, which means they constitute single words, or syntagmatic, implying they are made up of sentences or parts thereof. Therefore, understanding place names in general hugely depends on a critical look at the internal structure of the word(s) or placename(s). This research uses complete semi-structured interviews and documents to critically investigate 20 randomly selected placenames from Kwahu South and Kwahu East districts in the Eastern Region of Ghana. It analyses the syntax, morphology and meaning of these placenames. It applies the Frame Semantic (Fillmore, 1982) concept to ascertain whether the meaning-making elements in the individual names reflect the views or purposes of their ‘namers’ or otherwise, as (oral) histories have them. The selected placenames are then grouped using Tent and Blair (2011) model of Motivations for Naming. The semantic and morphological analysis reveal that some Kwahu habitation names could be realized from non-morphemic parts of words, single stems/roots, phrases, inflections (affixations), etc. Again, vowel elision, coinage, and backformation are used by the name givers, with the topography, environment and other factors being key in the naming process. The paper concludes that Kwahu placenames are useful linguistic sources. The study contributes to the body of knowledge on Kwahu placenames in particular, and Ghanaian toponymy in general. It is recommended that ‘Kwahu’, which also stands as an Akan dialect type, spoken by this speech community, be explored by future researchers.

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Keywords


motivation, morphology, anthroponym, toponym, onomastics

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References


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Klugah, M. A, 2013. Recounting history through linguistics: A toponymic analysis of Asogli migration narratives. African Journal of History and Culture , 151-159.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.46827/ejals.v3i2.241

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