Grammatical Pragmatics: Power in Akan judicial discourse

Samuel Gyasi Obeng


This paper explores some pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic aspects of the Akan (Ghana, West Africa) native court judicial discourse. It is argued that court officials and litigants use specific content and functional words, idioms and other implicit expressions, as well as phonetic resources like mezzoforte and pianissimo loudness to express power, politeness and a range of attitudes and relationships such as distancing, anger, closeness, and politeness phenomena. Finally, the paper demonstrates that some judicial communication strategies employed by the interactional participants to indicate power in the native courts, may also be found in ordinary Akan conversation.

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