LeidenASA Seminar: Landscape Terms, Placenames and Spatial Language in Asᴐgli Ewe

People categorise the entities and properties that make up the terrain and water worlds which humans live in and exploit differently. In this presentation, Mercy Klugah explores the vocabulary used in the categorisation of the physical environment in Asᴐgli Ewe. She also examines how the different geographical entities are named more generally as well as locally. She will show that the term for ‘mountain’ and/or ‘hill’ , and other raised ground level forms kᴐ ‘fist, lump, clot, hill’, kpó ‘mound’ have formal relationship with body parts. For example, the relationship between the body part ‘ear’ and ‘mountain’ is interrogated to reveal its underlying conceptualisation. Other terms discussed include tᴐ ‘river’ and terms for plant cover such as ave ‘forest’ and gbe ‘bush and their subcategories. The spatial parts of these entities are described using spatial relation terms which have evolved from body parts and are used also for talking about the location of entities – people and things in space. Thus, spaces anchored to tᴐ ‘river’ for instance are described as tᴐ ‘river edge’ tᴐ kᴐ lit. river neck, i.e. the edge of the river. She will next explore the strategies the Asᴐgli Ewe use to name specific places and geographic entities. Some names are descriptive of the spaces they occupy, e.g. Ho Dome ‘in the midst of Ho. Others are extensions of landscape terms, eg, Hlìhà ‘duricrust, fericrust’ and yet others relate to socio-historical events that took place there, eg Àυàtíɖòmé lit. ‘under the war tree’, a place where war broke out in the past. She will conclude by drawing relation between landscape terms, placenames and body parts to reveal the conceptualisations of landscape of the Asᴐgli as encoded in their language and linguistic practices.

Mercy Adzo Klugah is PhD candidate at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana and a LeidenASA visiting PhD fellow at the African Studies Centre, Leiden University, the Netherlands. She has Bachelor of Education in Arts and a Master of Philosophy in Ghanaian Languages and Linguistics from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Her research interest is in Language use in specific domains: language and Healthcare, Language History and Culture.

She is currently working on “People, Places and Identities: A Study of Asogli Ewe Landscape” for her PhD, where she explores Asogli traditional knowledge about landscape and its management as a contribution to the growing body of knowledge about cross-cultural variations in traditional environmental knowledge and management. The findings will augment data on cross-cultural knowledge about the environment and its management locally and globally. It will also offer the opportunity to compare such knowledge with western knowledge systems about the environment. This will help to development of an integrated model that pays attention to multiple practices of environmental management.

Date, time and location

15 November 2018
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 3A06