Akan Teleteaching Course

Unit 1.3: Greeting people

. Morning
All day (but not very common)
To one person
…, maaky. …, maah. …, maadwo.
…, merekyea wo.
To several persons
…, mema mo aky. …, mema mo ah. …, mema mo adwo.
…, merekyea mo.
Response to greetings
Yaa, sn. [ya: s]
Megye wo so. / Megye mo so.
Younger than or equal to EGO
Yaa, onua. [ya: onya]
Older than EGO, +male
Yaa, agya. [ya: dja]
Older than EGO, +fem
Yaa, na. [ya: na]
The importance of greetings in daily life can hardly be overstated. Learning how to greet is an important part of learning how to function in Akan society and how to establish and maintain personal relationships. 

Therefore: Pay full attention to details of greeting rituals in this and the following dialogues and drill sessions. 

In this session, we practice the initial exchange of greetings between two individuals or groups of individuals. Observe the following points:

1. Who greets first? Generally, the younger person greets first. Alternatively, the person who enters a room or joins a group will be the one to greet first.
2. Gestures: Usually one shakes hands.If several people are involved in the greeting, handshakes proceed from right to left.
3. Different formulas are used according to time of day for initiating the greeting.
4. Use the correct address formula! Never just say "Maaky. / Maah. / Maadwo.".

With a younger person, a colleague or friend, you may use the person's name, e.g.: "Kwadwo, maaky. / Amma, maadwo."

In all other cases, you must use the appropriate title of respect, for instance:
"Owura, maaky". "Agya, maaky" (for men older than EGO), "Awuraa, maaky" or "na, maaky" (for women older than EGO). 

A person of one's own generation and social standing may be addressed as onua"brother/sister".

  • Response to a greeting: The standard response to an initial greeting is Yaa at any time of the day. But note that the correct address term is an obligatory part of the response formula:
  • "Yaa, Kwadwo/Amma/owura/agya/na/onua."
    (Note that the normal low-high tone sequence on agya and na following the response particle yaa becomes high-low in the address form: Yaa, agya. / Yaa, na. )
    Important note: After the initial exchange of greetings, do not at once broach the subject or simply go your way! Inquiring about the other person's health and well-being is part and parcel of the normal greeting interaction in Akan and, indeed, in most African societies. 

    -> Inquiry about well-being (->1.4)
    -> Saying goodbye (2.2)
    -> More greetings (4.1)

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