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Bisilki: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Kinship Terms in Likpakpaln (Konkomba)

Abraham Kwesi Bisilki


This study, synchronically, describes and explicates the phenomenon of kinship terms in Likpakpaln, a Gur member of the Niger-Congo phylum, spoken mainly in the northern parts of Ghana. It focuses on the addressive usage of kinship terms. I use observation (both participant and non-participant) as a principal ethnographic data collection technique, supplemented by the semi-structured interview, informal conversation and my native speaker introspection. The analysis of data is informed by Dell Hyme’s ethnography of communication as a theoretical frame. Based on the data analysed, I argue that kinship addresses in Likpakpaln can be categorised into three major types: agnatic, matrilateral and affinal kinship address forms, of which matrilateral and affinal kinship addresses are by complementary filiation. I also show that communicative ends have a significant influence on the vocative usage of kinship terms in interlocution among the Bikpakpaam (the Konkomba people). I further argue that the repertoire of Likpakpaln kinship addresses and the pattern of usage of these kinship addresses in communicative interactions is greatly tied to the Bikpakpaam kinship structure and social universe. Finally, I observe that there is a perceptible level of intercultural intrusion on the kinship address terms used among the Bikpakpaam.


Key terms: Sociolinguistic analysis, kinship terms and Likpakpaln

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eISSN: 2026-6596