Non-African Linguists Be Like, “This Is a New Way to Quote!”

The objectives of this paper are to show that quotative like, while relatively new to colloquial varieties of (white) English, is attested in varieties of African speech of the continent (represented by Akan (Asante Twi)) and the diaspora (represented by Anti-American African (AAA))[1] decades, if not over a century prior. Secondly, we show that there are similar bases for grammaticalization for Akan (Asante Twi) sɛ and AAA like whereby they have gone from showing resemblance/approximation to serving as quotatives. Thus, we provide examples from AAA and Akan (Asante Twi) to demonstrate correlations between the two quotatives using primary text research and analyses based on a variety of sources placing the putative origin of quotative like into the collective African context. In doing so, we find that both AAA quotative like and Akan (Asante Twi) sɛ are attested prior to what seems to be the relatively recent adoption of AAA’s pre-existing quotative into colloquial white American English, which is only first attested in the 1980s. We also find that quotative like and sɛ follow similar trajectories in terms of grammaticalization. In conclusion, we argue that quotative sɛ and like represent a common African source of a similar linguistic phenomenon.

Ghana Journal of Linguistics 6(2): 85-115 (2017)

Publication or Research by: 
Obadele Bakari Kambon & R. Akuoko Duah
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