|Author:||Mwinlaaru, Isaac Nuokyaa-Ire|
|Title:||A systemic functional description of the grammar of dagaare|
|Subject:||Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations|
Dagaare language -- Grammar
|Department:||Department of English|
|Pages:||xxiii, 410 pages : color illustrations|
|Abstract:||Since the 1960's, the systematic description of languages has gained unprecedented attention among linguists. While scholars have documented robust evidence for universal tendencies in the organisation, functions, and evolutionary pathways of language, there is still need to account for many languages that have not yet been described and develop comprehensive accounts for languages that are partially described. Such comprehensive descriptions are not only important for advancing linguistic science, but are also crucial for various applications in the communities where the languages are spoken. Against this background, the present study provides a system-based account of the lexicogrammar of Dagaare (specifically, the Lobr dialect), a Gur language spoken in West Africa. The general objective is to examine lexicogrammatical systems that realise interpersonal, textual and ideational meanings at clause rank. The account is based on discourse data, largely consisting of spoken texts produced by Lobr speakers in Ghana and Burkina Faso. The analysis and descriptive interpretation of the language are guided by the general theory of language formulated in systemic functional linguistics, typological generalisations and transfer comparison. The findings of the study are organised into four chapters. The first chapter outlines the basic phonological and grammatical organisation of Dagaare. It identifies the units of phonology (viz. tone group, phonological word, syllable and phoneme) and grammar (viz. clause, group, word, and morpheme) and describes their forms and functions. It also discusses the various classes of grammatical units. The second chapter discusses the interpersonal grammar of Dagaare, focusing on MOOD, the grammar of speech acts, and its interaction with POLARITY and systems of modal assessment, namely MODALITY (i.e. desirability & probability) and NEGOTIATION, realised by particles placed prosodically at clause initial or final position to enact speakers' attitude towards propositions and proposals. The chapter first examines the interpersonal structure of the clause, identifying two immediate constituents, the Mood base and the Residue. Three structural functions, comprising Subject, Predicator and Negotiator (realised by clause initial and clause final particles), have been identified as forming the Mood base and as the most salient elements in enacting the clause as a unit of exchange. The chapter then moves on to discuss different mood types, comprising declarative, interrogative and imperative, and their sub-types. Next, the chapter examines the interaction between Subject person and the imperative clause, mood in elliptical and minor clauses and then the phenomenon of mood metaphor or indirectness between the mood types and the speech functions they realise. These are then followed by a discussion of POLARITY, MODALITY and NEGOTIATION.|
The third analysis chapter describes the textual systems of THEME and INFORMATION. Theme is defined as the element that is given initial prominence in the clause and is developed by the remainder of the clause, the Rheme. Different realisations have been identified for three types of Theme: textual, interpersonal and topical Themes. Notably, topical Themes are often (but not always) signalled by marking them off the rest of the clause as the Absolute Theme of the clause ('left-dislocated constructions'). On the other hand, the focus structure of Dagaare is minimally realised by the New element. New is identified semantically as that element that is singled out in the information unit as newsworthy. Three focus types are identified, namely end focus, contrastive focus and broad focus. End focus is the default choice for positive declarative and is realised by the focus particle nl. Contrastive focus is realised by thematic equatives, emphatic pronouns and exclusive markers. Broad focus is identified as zero-realisation and it is the default choice for imperative and negative clauses. The chapter finally discusses the relationship between the clause and information unit in Dagaare. The final chapter examines the system of TRANSITIVITY, comprising the sub-systems of PROCESS TYPE and AGENCY. Six process types have been identified, comprising three principal types - material, mental and relational clauses; and three minor types - behavioural, verbal and existential clauses. Detailed grammatical evidence is given for the identification of each process type and their subtypes. Grammatical characteristics are also provided for the different participant roles across the process types. The chapter continues to identify principles that generalise across the different process types. A notable generalisation is based on one phenomenon in Dagaare, the tendency for speakers to leave the Complement (or 'Object') unrealised in the clause. The general factor motivating this omission is a textual kind, namely, when the potential Complement is regarded as given information it can be left unrealised. However, other factors such as humanness in relation to the noun group realising the Complement and abstractness in relation to the clause as a whole override this principle. Further, based on this single variable, the various process types cluster into two broad semantic types: concrete and abstract clauses. Regarding the system of AGENCY, clauses divide into middle or effective, depending on whether or not they embody the feature of agency. Middle clauses represent the process as being self-engendered while effective clauses represent it as being caused by an external participant, the Agent. The study contributes to systemic functional theory and the general meta-theory of language, functional language typology and African linguistics. The description is also appliable for the purposes of language education, translation, orthography, discourse studies and other practical settings where the Dagaare language is in focus.
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