CHAPTER ONE GENERAL INTRODUCTION
This thesis is about compounding in Dangme, a Kwa language spoken in the south-eastern part of Ghana. The main objective is to describe the nature of compound words in the language. The present chapter is a general introduction to the study. In section 1.2, I present a general background to the study. In sections 1.3, I discuss Dangme language, its sound systems and basic phonological and syntactic information. In section 1.4, I present the problem statement, while in sections 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7, I present the objectives of the study, the research questions and the significance of the study respectively. I present the research methodology and organisation of the thesis in section 1.8 and 1.9 respectively. Section 1.10 concludes the chapter.
1.2 Background of the Study
The principal objective of a linguistic theory is to find out what it is that people know about a language they speak (Chomsky 1986). Chomsky observes that knowing a language is not simply a matter of being able to manipulate a tall list of phrases and sentences that have been stored in the mind. Rather, knowing a language involves having the ability to produce and understand a vast number of words and structures that one might never have heard or produced before.
Knowing the structure of words and their formation in a language equips speakers to form novel words in the language without violating the morphotactics of that language. In other words, knowing the morphology of a
language ensures that speakers of languages do not just produce words they have heard before but also novel ones. Morphology is the study of the study of the internal structure of words and how the various constituents of the complex words are patterned. The constituents which make up the complex words are referred to as morphemes.
A morpheme is either free or bound depending on whether it can stand on its own as a word or has to be attached to another constituent. The form man can stand alone and is understandable in isolation; hence it is a free morpheme. On the other hand the constituent –ly, which occurs in the word manly, making it an adjective, cannot stand alone and be understood and must always be attached to a base. Therefore, it is a bound morpheme. Morphemes, in general are used in two primary ways: to create new words (derivational) and to mark different forms of already existing words (inflectional). Thus, morphology has two main branches: derivational morphology and inflectional morphology.
In this study, my focus is on only derivational morphology, which divides into affixal derivation and compounding. Particularly, this is a study on compounding in Dangme. On the bases of the definition of a morpheme, we observe that not every component of a compound may be considered a morpheme. This is because some of the components of compounds are themselves complex structures. In view of this, the term base, a form to which another form may be attached, will be used to refer to the compound members instead of morpheme.
In pure morphological computation, it is assumed that various components (morphemes) of words contribute their individual meanings and forms to the overall meanings and forms of the words of which they are
constituents. There are instances, however, in which forms that combine to form words in languages do not actually contribute any meaning to the meaning of the words they form part of. That is to say that meaningless morphs which nonetheless combine to form meaningful words are recognised in languages. Anderson (1992: 68) hints on the deviations from the “the one-to- one relation between components of meaning and components of form which is essential to the classical morphological assumption”.
Words in human languages have their internal compositions, and their components are combined in a particular acceptable manner called morphotactics (Kiparsky 1992). Nevertheless, compound words in Dangme are not just the concatenation of meaningful forms that combine their meanings to derive the meaning of the morphologically complex word. Thus, there are instances where the derived complex word shows no meaning relationship with it constituents.