Three-place predicates in West African serializing languages


  • Felix K. Ameka


serial verb constructions, SVCs, Ewe, Likpe, Akan, valence


The widespread assumption that serializing languages use serial verb constructions (SVCs) to code three-participant situations and therefore lack three-place predicates and three-place mono-verbal constructions is shown not to be valid for West African serializing languages. Using Ewe (Gbe), Likpe (Na-Togo) and Akan (Tano) as exemplars, I demonstrate that these languages have trivalent predicates and various constructions in which a single verb hosts three arguments in a clause. The languages deploy three-place predicate, adpositional, SVC, and adnominal strategies to code three-participant situations. I argue that there are semantic differences between the various constructions. The hyper-transitivity of these languages might account for the presence of three-place predicate constructions.