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From Akan movie and song titles, through texts in Akan TV commercials, to (surprisingly) academic papers on aspects of the Akan language, it is not uncommon to come by various forms of orthographic mistakes.
Every human language has a set of rules that govern how it is written. When it comes to Akan, unfortunately, we seem to think you “simply write what you hear”. In lesson 39 of the Twi Grammar course, we take a look at some common Twi writing mistakes and how we can correct them. At the end of the lesson, I’ll list a number of Akan movie and music titles. Go through them and determine if they’re correct or not. If not, provide their respective correct forms in the comments section below the post. You don’t necessarily have to correct all; you could do one and leave the rest for others to contribute.
Okey-doke! Let’s start.
Twi Writing Mistakes and How to Correct Them
1. Separating subject pronouns from verbs that directly follow them. For example:
|me didi ntɛm||medidi ntɛm||I eat early|
|me rebɛ dware||merebɛdware||I am about to bath|
|wo bɛba?||wobɛba?||will you (sing.) come?|
|wɔn adidi||wɔadidi||they’ve eaten|
|mo resisi me||moresisi me||you (pl.) cheating me|
The rule applicable to mistake 1 above: whenever a verb directly follows a subject pronoun, we combine them into a single word in writing, including any accompanying tense marker(s). See LINK.
2. Following from mistake 1 is the opposite: Combining object pronouns and the verbs that directly follow them. For example:
|ɔde maa mebaeɛ||ɔde maa me baeɛ||he/she gave it to me to bring|
|ɔyii memaeɛ||ɔyii me maeɛ||he/she gave me away/betrayed me|
|wɔde mebɛba||wɔde me bɛba||they will bring me (they’ll come with me)|
|gyae mehwɛ||gyae me hwɛ||stop staring at me|
3. Combining two verbs in writing. For example:
|kakyerɛ me||ka kyerɛ me||tell me|
|sufrɛ Nyankopɔn||su frɛ Nyankopɔn||call on God in tears|
|fakyɛ me||fa kyɛ me||forgive me|
4. Following from mistake 3 above is yet another mistake: Separating, in writing, two verbs that combine to form a noun. For example:
|ɛsɛ w’ani na ɛnsɛ wo ka kyerɛ||ɛsɛ w’ani na ɛnsɛ wo kakyerɛ||it deserves your seeing; not your hearing|
|tie me su frɛ||tie me sufrɛ||listen to my (crying) calls|
|bɔne fa kyɛ||bɔne fakyɛ||forgiveness of sin|
5. Separating (or simply combining) singular possessive adjectives and possessed objects beginning with the letter ‘a’.
|n’abansoro||his/her storey building|
The rule applicable to the above mistake is: If a possessed object starts with the letter ‘a’ and follows a singular possessive adjective, we write them (the possessive adjective and the possessed object) together. An apostrophe is introduced to replace the second letter of the possessive adjective. Is this familiar? Yes, we looked at this rule in our lesson on Akan pronouns.
6. Introducing apostrophes between pronouns and verbs. For example:
|w’akwadare||wakwadare||he/she is skilled at…|
|m’asere saa||masere saa||I’ve laughed continuously|
|w’adidi?||woadidi?||have you eaten?|
|y’asi gyinaeɛ||yɛasi gyinaeɛ||we’ve arrived at a conclusion/decision|
7. Combining a pronoun and a noun in writing (except in cases like mistake number 5 above). Examples:
|menua||me nua||my sibling|
|woba||wo ba||your child|
|yɛyere||yɛn yere||our wife|
|metamfo||me tamfo||my enemy|
8. Not assimilating ‘d’ and ‘b’ when they come directly after the letters ‘n’ and ‘m’ respectively.
|memba||memma||I won’t come|
|membrɛ kwa||memmrɛ kwa||I won’t suffer in vain|
|woandi aduane no||woanni aduane no||you didn’t eat the food|
|yɛmbra?||yɛmmra?||should we come?|
9. This may seem funny to some of you but I had to add it: using ‘3’ and ‘)’ in place of ‘ɛ’ and ‘ɔ’. I’m aware many have been using ‘3’ and ‘)’ due to the lack of the ‘ɛ’ and ‘ɔ’ keys on the average standard keyboard. Due to constant use, however, it has gotten to a point where some people – especially foreigners – actually think there are such letters as ‘3’ and ‘)’ in the Akan alphabet. This is rather unfortunate. For Mac users, click HERE to download and install Kasahorow’s Akan Keyboard. The zip file includes a step-by-step instruction on how to successfully install and use the keyboard. If you’re using Windows, please download it HERE, and setup instruction HERE. If you’re using a mobile phone, you may search for ‘Kasahorow Akan Keyboard’ on Google Play or the Apple Store, depending on which side of the Android/IOS divide you’re on. Say goodbye to ‘3’ and ‘)’.
10. Finally, a list of commonly miswritten Twi words:
|aware gyaeɛ||awaregyaeɛ||divorce (noun)|
|mprɛ pii||mpɛn pii||often/many a time|
|seyaa||sei ara||just like this|
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