I investigate A-bar phenomena (focus movement and interactions with wh-fronting; sentence-final particles and the left periphery; and relative clauses), predicative/nominal possession, ditransitives, implicit arguments in Ewe and related languages.


Nominal Possession in Tongugbe

Kpoglu 2019 notes that the choice of possessive markers in the Tongugbe dialect of Ewe depends on the plurality of the possessor. Building on his observations, we investigate possessive makers in Tongugbe in the case of plural mismatches, defined as cases where the DP is plural, but does not have a final plural marker. We show that both subject clitic doubling and possessor clitic doubling are obligatory in the case of plural mismatches.

Question Particles in Pekigbe and Tongugbe

Certain dialects of Ewe have functional categories that attach to the end of clauses known as Sentence-Final Particles (henceforth SFPs). These particles can contribute a range of clausal-level information such as adding interrogative force and agreeing with inner clausal negation. In this paper, we explore question particles in the Pekigbe and Tongugbe dialects of Ewe. We document how both varieties of Ewe use the same particle to form polar questions. However, the SFP present in wh-questions is realized as a vowel in Tongugbe, whereas in Pekigbe it surfaces as a low tone. We argue that these SFPs head the IntP in the articulated CP system (Rizzi 1997, 2010).

The Syntax of Tongugbe (Ewe) Nya-constructions

In this paper, I investigate the syntax of the Ewe nyá-construction construction, exploring data from the Tongugbe dialect. I show that the construction is a middle, given that the internal argument undergoes syntactic A-movement to the surface subject position. I argue that the for-PP that may occur in the nyá-construction is the syntactically active external argument of the construction. Even if the for-PP is not overtly realized, it is syntactically present as an implicit argument.

‘Have’ and ‘Need’ in Ewe and Three GTM Languages

Harves and Kayne (2012) make the generalization that a language that has a transitive verb corresponding to need is a language which has a transitive verb of possession. Halpert and Diercks (2016) suggest a modification of Harves and Kayne’s (2012) generalization, stating that a language that has a transitive verb corresponding to need is a language in which predicative possessees and transitive objects are licensed in like manner. In this paper, I argue that, even though Likpe seems to support Halpert and Diercks (2016), the two generalizations cannot be upheld, citing evidence from Ewe, Tafi, and Logba.

Relative Clauses in Tongugbe (Ewe)

An interesting issue identified in Ewe relative clauses is the distribution of the plural morpheme relative to the head noun and the relative pronoun. The relative pronoun, not the head noun, is marked for plurality. In this paper, I examine relative clauses in the Tongugbe of Ewe. I consider the distribution of the plural morpheme in this dialect. Adopting the raising analysis of relative clauses, I propose an analysis for the distribution of the plural morpheme, showing that the morphosyntactic properties of the relative pronoun allow it to be contiguous to the plural morpheme. I argue further that the raising analysis accounts for the distribution of the plural marker.

Active Research

Tongugbe (Ewe) Agent Nominalizations

In this paper, we document a counter-example to Baker and Vinokurova’s (2009) generalization that languages disallow clause-like syntax in agentive nominalizations. In particular, we show that Ewe allows negation in agentive nominalizations. Further, we note some crucial differences in agent nominalizations in English and Ewe.

On Rhoticity and Flapping in GhE

This project entails an analysis of social correlates of rhoticity and flapping in Ghanaian English. Existing literature on the subject note that the prevalence of the aforesaid phenomena as integral to the notion of Locally-Acquired Foreign Accent (LAFA). I seek to explore these phenomena in great detail, with the view to providing an understanding of the correlation between the variables and some social predictors. Further, I will situate (Ghanaian) LAFA in the broader discussion on World Englishes and the ubiquity of features from general American pronunciation systems.


Invited Talks

2021. Linguistic Universals and Generative Syntax. Department of French, University of Ghana, Legon [Online]

2019.  Nominal Incorporation in Tongu Ewe. Washington University in St. Louis Colloquium. With    Jeffrey Punske.


2022. A new look at a-prefixing in Appalachian English. Annual Meeting of the American Dialect Society. Washington, DC. [online]. With Gregory Guy, Laurel MacKenzie, Abed Quaddoumi, and Begum Saridede

2021. Variation in Relativization in Hogbe. Workshop on Cross-cultural Sociolinguistics. University of Cologne/New York University.

2021. Relative Clauses in Tongugbe. NYU Syntax Brown Bag.

2021. On Sentence-Final Particles in Tongugbe. 52nd Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL). Gainesville, Florida.

2019. Nominal Incorporation in Tongu Ewe. Pennsylvania Linguistics Conference 43. Philadelphia, PA. With Jeffrey Punske

2018.  Perceived Heteroglossia: Evidence from Legon, Ghana. 10th Annual Meeting of Illinois Language and Linguistics Society (ILLS). Urbana Champaign, IL.

2018.  Have and Need in Ewe. 49th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL). East Lansing, MI.

2017.  Corpus Analysis of Non-restrictive Relative Clauses in Live Text Soccer Commentaries. 70th Kentucky Foreign Language Conference (KFLC). Lexington, KY. With Akmal Ibragimov

2016.  What Makes an L2 Word Easier or More Difficult to Learn? 69th Kentucky Foreign Language Conference (KFLC). Lexington, KY. With Shauna Torrington and Fatimah Alabdullatifa

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