About me

I am a Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana. I received my PhD in linguistics from  MIT in 2021. My areas of interests include syntactic theory, syntax of African languages and its interface with phonology, temporal reference, and field work. 

My dissertation examined Non-finite complementation in Buli (a Ghanaian language). In this work, I explored finiteness in relation to clause structure, clause size, and the licensing of overt subjects in non-finite clauses. I have also worked on A-bar constructions, tone processes, temporal markers, and structure of the determiner phrase. 

I received both my BA (Political Science and Linguistics), and MPhil in Linguistics from the University of Ghana.

My experience with research

I have learnt through my research that answering even the basic questions requires effort, persistence and patience — and even more so, when you are investigating a language that is relatively understudied. Sometimes what you set out to investigate will lead you down an uncharted side path that you will have to spend some time mapping out before returning to the question you started with. This has certainly been my experience.

I entered graduate school with the aim of answering a specific question concerning the language Buli. Buli is in most respects a SVO language, but under certain circumstances shows SOV order. What yields SOV? Six years later, I am actually nowhere near answering that question. At the same time, I have also not given up. It has turned out that before this question can be answered, I must first understand the clause structure of the language, how clause structure interacts with tone and with its temporal system, as well as the behavior of these systems as they interact with A-bar constructions, focus marking, and more. It was during a digression to investigate the tone system, for example, that led to the discovery that Buli distinguishes finite from non-finite clauses—which in turn led to the research I pursued in my dissertation. Although I graduated as a syntactician, I have learned that understanding the syntax requires investigating the semantics, phonology and other aspects of grammar. Thus, I have spent sometime exploring these areas as well, each of them crucial to an understanding of how the language works. This experience will serve as a foundation for my future pursuits in answering the big questions mentioned above (or any research question for that matter).

Contact Info

Department of Linguistics, School of languages (College of Humanities), University of Ghana. P.O.Box LG61, Legon-Accra, Ghana, WA.

Email: abdulling14@gmail.com/asulemana@ug.edu.gh