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Communications de M. Kauffer et de D. Agyepong (Délicortal)

Activités collectives / Delicortal

Le 18 mai 2017

« Les actes de langages stéréotypés » par Maurice Kauffer (Université de Lorraine-Nancy / CNRS-ATILF) ;
« Here you ‘CUT’ and there you ‘BREAK’ : some thoughts on the semantics of Akan Verbs of Separation » par D. Agyepong (School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Cape Town)

Les « actes de langages stéréotypés » 
Maurice Kauffer – Université de Lorraine-Nancy / CNRS-ATILF

Nous nous proposons d’explorer les « actes de langage stéréotypés » (ALS) par ex. allons donc ; c’est le bouquet ; et comment ; la belle affaire ; tu parles, à savoir une catégorie de phraséologismes pragmatiques jusqu’à présent peu étudiée mais fort prometteuse. Nous tenterons de les définir, de les délimiter par rapport aux autres catégories de phraséologismes et aux pragmatèmes, et aussi d’examiner leurs caractéristiques essentielles et les difficultés qu’ils soulèvent : figement, idiomaticité, caractère d’acte de langage, liens avec le contexte et traitement lexicographique. Il s’agira d’une analyse théorique mais appuyée de nombreux exemples sur une solide base empirique, à savoir un corpus de plusieurs centaines de bi-textes littéraires français et allemands.


Here you ‘CUT’ and there you ‘BREAK’ : some thoughts on the semantics of Akan Verbs of Separation
Dorothy Pokua Agyepong

CUT and BREAK verbs refer to the group of verbs used to describe actions that bring about a “separation in the material integrity of objects” (Hale and Keyser 1987). In this paper, I examine the semantic properties of these verbs in Akan, Kwa (Niger-Congo) spoken in Ghana. 
The theoretical underpinning for this discussion is the cross-linguistic assertion that separation verbs can be classified into two main categories ; CUT and BREAK. CUT verbs provide information on the manner of the change either overtly (by indicating an instrument or a causal agent) or covertly (by omitting the instrument/ causal agent) and lexicalize a causal agent. Conversely, BREAK verbs are ‘pure change of state verbs’ because they do not focus on the manner of the change of state and thus lexicalizes result without the involvement of an agent. Consequently, BREAK verbs and not CUT verbs participate in the inchoative/causative alternation (Guerssel et al. 1985, Jackendoff 1990, Levin 1993). 
This paper first and foremost presents the Akan verbs that are used to express the concept of separation. This will be followed by a discussion on the various semantic properties associated with the verbs. The paper will then look at instances where the semantics of these Akan verbs deviate from the cross-linguistic characteristics associated with verbs of these categories. It is argued that in Akan, the theme or NP object that the verb collocates with plays a crucial role in determining the semantic category i.e. whether it is a CUT verb or BREAK verb. That is, in the presence of certain types of NPs, the quintessential BREAK verb behaves like CUT verbs by obligatorily requiring the presence of an agent/instrument. Not only do they semantically behave like CUT verbs, but they also exhibit the syntax associated with the CUT category of verbs.
The data for this study is based on elicitation involving four native speakers of Akan who were interviewed with two sets of video stimuli : “Cut and Break Videos” put together by Bohnemeyer, Bowerman and Brown (2001). These were supplemented with “Cut and Break Video” created by the author in June (2015). Other data sources include Christaller’s (1933) Akan Bible, Gateway online Bible and some novels. I also rely on my native speaker’s intuition to generate some of the examples.

KEY WORDS : Verbs of separation, inchoative/causative alternation, material integrity, causal agent.


Bohnemeyer, Jürgen , Melissa Bowerman and Penelope Brown(2001). Cut and break clips. In Levinson, Stephen C., and N.J. Enfield (eds.), Field Manual 2001, Language and Cognition Group, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. Nijmegen : MPI, 90-96.
Christaller, Johann Gottlieb (1933). A Dictionary of the Asante and Fante Language Called Twi. Basel : Basel Evangelical Missionary Society.
Guerssel, Mohammed, Kenneth Hale, Mary Laughren, Beth Levin and Josie White Eagle. (1985). A cross-linguistic study of transitivity alternations. In Eilfort, William H., Paul D. Kroeber and Karen L. Peterson (eds.), Papers from Parasession on Causatives and Agentivity at the 21st Regional Meeting. Chicago : Chicago Linguistic Society, 48-63.
Hale, Kenneth L. and Samuel J. Keyser (1987). A View from the Middle. MA : Centre for Cognitive Science, MIT Press.
Jackendoff, Ray (1990). Semantic Structures. Cambridge, MA : MIT Press.
Levin, Beth (1993). English Verb Classes and Alternations : A Preliminary Investigation. Chicago : The University of Chicago Press


Le 18 mai 2017
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à partir de 14h. 


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Publié le 16 janvier 2019

Mis à jour le 23 février 2024