Common Twi Writing Mistakes and How to Correct Them

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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:

WrongCorrectEnglish
me didi ntɛmmedidi ntɛmI eat early
me rebɛ dwaremerebɛdwareI am about to bath
wo bɛba?wobɛba?will you (sing.) come?
wɔn adidiwɔadidithey’ve eaten
mo resisi memoresisi meyou (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 writingincluding 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:

WrongCorrectEnglish
ɔde maa mebaeɛɔde maa me baeɛhe/she gave it to me to bring
ɔyii memaeɛɔyii me maeɛhe/she gave me away/betrayed me
wɔde mebɛbawɔde me bɛbathey will bring me (they’ll come with me)
gyae mehwɛgyae me hwɛstop staring at me

3. Combining two verbs in writing. For example:

WrongCorrectEnglish
kakyerɛ meka kyerɛ metell me
sufrɛ Nyankopɔnsu frɛ Nyankopɔncall on God in tears
fakyɛ mefa kyɛ meforgive me

4. Following from mistake 3 above is yet another mistake: Separating, in writing, two verbs that combine to form a noun. For example:

WrongCorrectEnglish
ɛsɛ w’ani na ɛnsɛ wo ka kyerɛɛsɛ w’ani na ɛnsɛ wo kakyerɛit deserves your seeing; not your hearing
tie me su frɛtie me sufrɛlisten to my (crying) calls
bɔne fa kyɛbɔne fakyɛforgiveness of sin

5. Separating (or simply combining) singular possessive adjectives and possessed objects beginning with the letter ‘a’.

WrongCorrectEnglish

me aduane

maduane

m’aduanemy food

me aso

maso

m’asomy ear

ne abansoro

nabansoro

n’abansorohis/her storey building

wo akoma

wakoma

w’akomayour heart

ne adagya

nadagya

n’adagyahis/her nakedness

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:

WrongCorrectEnglish
m’adamadaI’ve slept
w’akwadarewakwadarehe/she is skilled at…
m’apiramapiraI’m wounded
m’asere saamasere saaI’ve laughed continuously
w’adidi?woadidi?have you eaten?
y’asi gyinaeɛyɛasi gyinaeɛwe’ve arrived at a conclusion/decision

7. Combining a pronoun and a noun in writing (except in cases like mistake number 5 above). Examples:

WrongCorrectEnglish
menuame nuamy sibling
wobawo bayour child
yɛyereyɛn yereour wife
metamfome tamfomy enemy

8. Not assimilating ‘d’ and ‘b’ when they come directly after the letters ‘n’ and ‘m’ respectively.

WrongCorrectEnglish
membamemmaI won’t come
mɛndamɛnnadon’t sleep
membrɛ kwamemmrɛ kwaI won’t suffer in vain
woandi aduane nowoanni aduane noyou 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:

WrongCorrectEnglish
afutuoafotuoadvice
nkunimnkonimvictory
bɛɛmabarimamale/man
mmrammararules/laws
ayaresa beaayaresabeahospital
anaa sɛanaasɛor
ketoaketewasmall
ntɛmntambetween
aware gyaeɛawaregyaeɛdivorce (noun)
biibibiribisomething
bebireebebreemany
mprɛ piimpɛn piioften/many a time
koomkommquiet
efirisɛɛfiri sɛbecause
gyesɛgye sɛunless
biaabiaraevery
tintintententall
tietiatiatiashort
seyaasei arajust like this
abaayowaabaayewagirl
ɛfɔmɛfamfloor/ground
nkoaanko araonly
kromkuromtown

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Tikya Yaw
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