n Institute of African Studies Research Review - Akan verbal taboos : traditional and contemporary issues

Volume 25, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0855-4412



This paper addresses the status of taboo expressions in Akan society looking at it from traditional usage and the changes in contemporary Akan society. It looks at verbal taboos (VT) from the theory of language ideology. The paper argues that a change in language and culture has some direct bearing on VT. We shall discuss the functions of taboo expressions in the Akan society. We shall also consider the taboo and the social class that normally use taboo expressions and why. We shall also discuss the influence of taboo expressions on other, non-taboo expressions, intralingually and interlingually. The paper discusses the sociolinguistics of VT and sees how societies put sanctions on free speech. We will thus argue that even though speech is free, there is a limit to the extent one can freely use language. The paper further considers the current state of verbal taboos especially with the advent of western education, globalisation, religion and urbanisation and the prospects for Akan verbal taboos. Finally, we shall look at the problems encountered with research into Akan verbal taboos.

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