Typological Features Template for Ga
Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu and Yvonne Ollennu
|Vowel inventory||Ga has seven oral vowels: a i e ɛ u o ɔ and five nasal vowels: ã ĩ ũ ɔ̃ ɛ̃. Double or consecutive copy vowels arise morphophonologically, but otherwise there are no long vowels.|
|Vowel harmony|| Ga does not have ATR (or any other) harmony, althought when a vowel is added to an English loanword it often shows height and rounding harmony with the stem, eg. bɔɔlu "ball", sleti "(school) slate". There are assimilation rules for sequences of two vowels.
Sequences of three vowels occur in the orthography but are always reduced in speech to two.
|Consonant inventory||Ga Consonant Sounds: Stops p, t, k, kw, kp; b, d, g, gw, gb; Affricates ʧ, ʧw; ʤ, ʤw; Fricatives f, s, ʃ, ʃw; v, z: Nasal continuants m (ɱ), n, ɲ, ŋ, (ŋw), ŋm; Approximant l, Lateral (r). Sounds in () occur allophonically. The consonant p occurs only in loanwords and neologisms.|
|Tone||Ga has two tones and downstep. There are numerous lexical minimal pairs, in nouns, eg. bɔ́ “dew”, bɔ̀ “manner”, and especially in verbs, eg. bɛ̀ “pinch”, bɛ́ “be absent”. There are also a few cases of high-low falling tone, usually on word-final syllables, as in the verb hê “buy” when it occurs at the end of a sentence. They alternate with simple high tone in non-final contexts.|
|Syllable Structure||Basic syllable types are CV, V and N, each bearing a tone. When a syllable of shape N is word-final it is always pronounced [ŋ], but when it occurs initially it is homorganic with the following consonant. There are also syllables of shape CL, where L is the liquid or the retroflex, and bears tone, for example in the verb fl̀í "buy or sell on credit". Every lexical stem contains at least one CV syllable or a sequence CL+V. Many grammatical formatives consist of a V or an N syllable.|
|morphological classification (1)||Ga is moderately agglutinating in respect of verbs. Simple (non-compound) singular nouns however are monomorphemic.|
|morphological classification (2)||Ga is generally head-marking at sentence and phrase levels, but case is not grammatically marked and there is no gender or nominal class. On the other hand, many Adjectives and the Indefinite Specifier (ko) show number agreement with the head noun.|
|Nominal Phrases||The following fields describe some of the basic morpho-syntactic properties of nominal constituents.|
|syntactic structure||The linear ordering in the Noun phrase is as follows: Identifier-Possessor-Modifier Noun-Head Noun-Adjective-Numeral-Indefinite Specifier-Determiner-Definite marker-Quantifier-Intensifier. An NP in which all of these positions are realized is not common, but the following shows all the positions: nɛkɛ Tɛte tso tsui agboi nyɔŋma komɛi lɛ fɛ̃ɛ po, meaning something like "just all those several of Tettey's ten big wooden houses", literally 'that Tettey's wood houses big ten some the all indeed'.
A minimal NP consists of a noun or pronoun.
|nominal modification||The head of a nominal phrase may be modified by a possessive phrase, by adjectives, numbers and the other elements specified above, and by relative clauses. Many adjectives and the Indefinite specifier (ko) agree in number with the head noun, as in tsu-i agbo-i ko-mɛi "some big houses", where the element after the hyphen in each word is a plural marker.|
|possession||Possession is expressed by simple juxtaposition Possessor-Possessum, as in Tɛte tsu "Tettey's house", except that if the Possessor is plural, the Possessum takes a prefix a-.|
|pronominal system|| The independent (Absolute) pronoun form occurs as object and at the beginning of a sentence if focused or topicalized. Subject and possessive pronouns are prefixed to the verb or noun respectively.
The independent pronouns are Singular: 1 mi 2 bo 3 lɛ Plural: 1 wɔ 2 nyɛ 3 amɛ, all with Low tone. The prefixed pronouns differ from the independent only in the singular: 1 mi-, n- 2 o- 3 e-. As possessive prefixes the first and second singular have high tone and the rest have low. Subject pronouns acquire their tone from the aspect of the verb. There is also an indefinite 3rd person subject prefix a-, used when the actual agent is not specified, where other languages might use a passive.
|Verbal Phrases||The following fields describe some of the basic morpho-syntactic properties of verbal constituents|
|word order||Ga is a strictly SVO language.|
|TAM||Aspect, mood, deixis and polarity are marked on the verb by a combination of prefixes and suffixes. Most aspect and mood prefixes are expressed segmentally after an NP subject but by tone on the preceding syllable when the subject is a pronoun prefix. The Aorist is expressed by downstep between a High tone-final subject and a High tone-initial verb - which means that often it is not expressed and the verb appears in its basic form.
Other positive aspect markers are é- perfect, -ɔ habitual, ŋ- (or vowel length in the 2nd and 3rd singular) progressive, aá- future, á- subjunctive/imperative. Negative aspect markers are vowel length with high tone for the imperfectives, -kò perfect, -ŋ future. Subjunctive and imperative negation are marked by the pre-verb element ka in combination with the subjunctive prefix.
|infinitival forms||Ga has no true infinitives. However a nominalized form occurs frequently as the complement of certain classes of verb.|
|verbal constructions|| Most verbs in Ga may occur intransitively or transitively. Some also occur ditransitively. Serial verb constructions are common, usually limited to two verb phrases. Light verbs occur mainly in sentences expressing properties, and a few (different verbs) typically occur with unified objects.
There is no passive, a general 3rd person agent pronoun being used instead (see note on pronominal system).
|Adpositions||Postpositions in Ga may head both subjects and objects of sentences Formally they are identical to possessive phrases. There are very few true prepositions, but a number of verbs may head 'verbid' phrases that are more or less comparable to prepositional phrases. Prepositional or verbid phrases are invariably adjunctival. Postpositional phrases are rarely adjuncts, although they may occur in an adjunct headed by a verb(id).|
|Complementation||Complement clauses follow the verb. Depending on the verb, a complementizer may be optional or required.|
|Special Properties of Ga||Body part expressions are particularly common in this language, with a very wide range of metaphorical meanings.|
|Short Bibliography||Dakubu, M.E. Kropp ed., 2009. Ga-English Dictionary with English-Ga Index. 2nd edition. Accra: Black Mask Publishers.
Dakubu, M.E. Kropp, 2006. Parlons Ga, langue et culture d'Accra (Ghana). Paris: L'Harmattan.
last reviewed by Typecraft 13.May 2014