Akan Teleteaching Course

Unit 2.7: Exercise 2

Additional observations on palatals and on labio-palatalisation
Lexical (= inherent) tone
1. kyere 'catch'
2. kyer L-H  'show'
3. kyre 'last, delay'
4. twer L-H  'write' 
5. twre H-H  'gnash'
From a phonological viewpoint, this series of verbs is of interest in regard to their consonants, their vowels and their tones.

(a)  It is evident in comparing these items that (4-5) differ from (1-3) not by their place of articulation but only by the feature of labialisation.

(b) All verbs in (1-5) belong to the [ -ATR] set. But note the following characteristic differences:
(1) closed variety throughout
(2)  opening sequence
(3) closing sequence
(c) The consonant 'r' occurs only word-medially in Akan, as is the case in the verbs listed above.
(d) In (1) and (3), the part of the root which is introduced by 'r' is weak. This means that the root is most frequently - except mostly in the past tense - reduced to a CV (consonant-vowel) root. By contrast, in (2), (4) and (5), the 'r'-introduced part is an integral part of the root and cannot be deleted.
(e) The verbs which are reducible to simple CV stems (i.e. (1) and (3)) also carry only a single lexical tone and are treated as short verbs. The verbs which have an obligatory second syllable carry more than one tone and are treated as long verbs.

(f) Other verbs having the same type of reducible syllable structure as (1/3) are h/hunu 'see' and go(ro) 'play'. As can be seen from the first of these two verbs, 'r' is replaced by 'n' in a nasal context.

 These differences are reflected in the different tonal structure of the  Past form of these verbs: L-L in (1) and (3) as for short verbs, L-H-L in (2) and (4) as for L-H disyllabic verbs. 

(5) illustrates the rare case of a H-H disyllabic verb. In the Past form, this H-H pattern is maintained and followed by L on the Past suffix.

-> Verb tone pattern
Modified tonal pattern
1.Wkye(re)e no nn.
"They caught him today."
2.Wkyer no nn.
"They showed (it to) him today."
3.Wky/kyree paa nn.
"They stayed for a long time today."
4.Wtwer no nn.
"They wrote him today."
5.Wtwree wn s.
"They gnashed their teeth."

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