The communicative role of silence in Akan

Kofi Agyekum

Abstract

This paper looks at the meaning of silence within the Akan speech community. It discusses two types of silence (1) performative silence and (2) semiotic silence. The positive attributes of silence as a communicative strategy will be explored. The paper outlines the various communicative situations in Akan society in which silence is employed, highlighting religious, social and linguistic aspects. Attention is drawn to indigenous expressions to describe silence. In passing, I will also compare the Akan data with other African societies and cultures outside Africa. The paper finally discusses silence vs. talk, silence and gender, and the acquisition of silence as a form of socialisation and communicative competence.

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