Writing in Akan: Misspellings, Typos, Deviations or Innovations?



Writing in Akan: Misspellings, Typos, Deviations or Innovations?

An Akan (Twi) Case Study on Lexicalization, Idiomaticity and Semantic Opacity
Dr. Ọbádélé Kambon
Department of Linguistics Seminar x 20 April 2016

Video (Viewable Online) and Secured PDF of PowerPoint Presentation (downloadable) Combo Bundle

Video Duration: 1:24:15
Secured PDF of Lecture Slides: 89 Slides

ABSTRACT: “Typos” and irregular/non-standard spellings are usually regarded as aberrations to be eschewed. However, in languages such as Akan (Twi) where there is a standard and an orthography which many speakers/writers may not have studied formally and with which many may not be familiar, writing may serve as a window into how speakers/writers think of their language. In other words, in such contexts, writing may serve as an externalized representation of internal cognitive processes an individual speaker may make use of to analyze and make sense of his or her language. What significance can be derived from words that are written together (as evidence of lexicalization, grammaticalization and idiomaticity), words that are written separately (which may have import for phonetics/phonology) and those that are written haphazardly by the same speaker? Conceptually, these “errata” can be understood in the prism of four complementary pairs theorized as driving language change: knowledge and ignorance; intentionality and unintentionality; resistance and acquiescence; importance and unimportance. In this study, we will look at data from personal exchanges and public fora wherein writing diverges from the written standard analyzing what significance these “typos” may have with regard to what native speakers know (or don’t know) and think (or don’t think) about their language.


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