Akan Teleteaching Course

Annex 5: Full tone-marking

In Akan, all syllables carry a distinctive tone, either High or Low. There are three types of syllables in Akan:
  • Vowel: ba (child);
  • Consonant-Vowel: k (to go);
  • Consonant-r-Vowel (but see Dolphyne 1988: 102-105): br (come!);
  • Syllabic consonants: m, n, (written n),   (written n) and r: sn (response to greeting), dan (house), nom (to drink), fr (to call).
For details, see Dolphyne (1988: 52-54).

Sonorant consonants m, n, , and r are syllabic

  • always in word-final position: nom (to drink), sn (response to greeting);
  • if followed by a consonantal onset: mma (children), nk (not to go);
  • sometimes in word-medial position (this applies to r: see Dolphyne 1988: 102-105): fr (to call).
In full tone marking mode High is marked with an acute and Low with a grave accent. Following a long-standing convention, Downstep is marked with an exclamation mark before the syllable whose tone is lowered. Downstep occuring between two seperately written words is marked with an exclamation mark before the word whose first syllable is downstepped.
Some examples:
All vowels are tone-marked. rek Kumase. S/he is going to Kumasi.
Sonorants are tone-marked when syllabic. Non-syllabic sonorants are never tone-marked. M-mra N-kran. Don't come to Accra.
Downstep marking within a word ayaresa!bea hospital
Downstep marking between two words me !kunu my husband

  --> Compare Economic tone-marking