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"The first blessing reads...": Declarative shell nouns in Ghanaian English

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In this study I focus on noun complementation. In particular, I analyze the complementation patterns of a type of abstract nouns, i.e., declarative shell nouns (e.g., declaration, blessing, excommunication), in Ghanaian English (GhE). Declarative shell nouns are a type of illocutionary shell noun, i.e., a noun that encapsulates a content that is usually expressed in a complement or even separate clause or sentence thereby ascribing it an illocutionary force. I use the cognitive usage-based approach to the study of language and investigate the behavioral profile of these nouns in GhE. I apply descriptive and exploratory statistics to data that have been collected from the Corpus of Global Web-based English (GloWbE) and show that specific substructures (or lack thereof) in the conceptual structure of these nouns are relevant for the association of noun and complement, thus explaining the syntactic behavior of these nouns. The study contributes to research on noun complementation and adds to the existing knowledge on the syntax of illocutionary shell nouns in GhE.


  • conceptual structure
  • declarative shell noun
  • Ghanaian English
  • noun complementation
  • speech act


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