Akan Teleteaching Course

Unit 1.6: Notes on pronunciation 1

Palatalisation/labialisation 1

Listen to the following words:

onuaŠ
AkoŠsua

In these words, the vowel written 'u' is pronounced very much in the front of the mouth, rather like French 'u' or German 'Ł'. This is an instance of what is called palatalisation. Palatalisation is an important characteristic of Akan/Twi pronunciation (cf. Dolphyne, 1988).
 

Now listen to the digraph consonant dw in the following examples:

AdwoŠa
KwadwoŠ

The digraph dw is pronounced very much in the front of the mouth, and at the same time with lip rounding. Its release sounds like a shorter version of the 'u' in the previous examples.

The pronunciation of dw resembles the beginning of English jewel in rapid pronunciation: w is already anticipated at the moment of pronouncing je-. Consequently, the onset of the word is accompanied by lip rounding. Lip rounding is also called labialisation. Just as palatalisation, labialisation is an important characteristic of many Akan words. Both may occur at the same time, as in the examples just given.
 

Notice the pronunciation of the digraph ky-, being rather like English ch in chew:

kyeaŠ
maakyÝť

-> Labio-palatalisation 2 (Unit 2); -> Sound charts

-> Notes on pronunciation 2

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