Vol 28 No 2 (2019): Nordic Journal of African Studies
Articles Linguistics

Beyond cardinals and ordinals: A constructionist account of other numeral types in Akan

Clement Kwamina Insaidoo Appah
Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana
Obed Nii Broohm
Department of Culture and Civilization, University of Verona, Italy
Richard Ayertey Lawer
Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana
Published November 13, 2019
  • Akan,
  • constructional idioms,
  • distributive,
  • fraction,
  • frequentative,
  • multiplicative numerals
  • ...More


Beyond the two usual types of numerals (i.e. cardinal and ordinal numerals) are other types like fractional, frequentative, distributive and multiplicative numerals which present very interesting linguistic properties. However, research on numerals usually focus on either cardinal or ordinal numerals. This paper provides a detailed description of the structure and formation of non-cardinal and non-ordinal numerals in Akan as well as a constructionist account of their properties. In the description of the facts, we show that the formal structure of the various classes of numerals is quite regular because they inherit their structure from already existing syntactic and morphological constructions in the language, including coordinate constructions, compounds and reduplicated forms. In the proposed theoretical account, we show that Construction Morphology provides the appropriate tools for the analysis of the numerals because the framework anticipates form-meaning disparities, thus making it possible to account for both compositional and extra-compositional properties of the numerals. The properties of the various types of numerals are captured in schemas which abstract over their general and idiosyncratic properties. We posit constructional idioms in which specific aspects of the numerals, regarded as constructional properties, are prespecified in the schemas and inherited by instantiating constructions.