Twi is an African language spoken in the southern two-thirds of Ghana.  Like most languages spoken south of the Sahara, Twi is a tone language.   Akuapim Twi became the prestige dialect because it was the first dialect to be used for Bible translation.  Fante Twi and Ashanti Twi are also spoken by a large population.  All dialects of Twi are mutually intelligible.  They are written by a common script developed by the Bureau of Ghana Languages.


Akan Twi is a tone language, which means that word distinction is determined not only by vowels and consonants, but also by the pitch on which each syllable is pronounced.  For example, 01.gif (914 bytes) (high-high) 'good', 02.gif (914 bytes) (low-high) 'father', and 03.gif (911 bytes) (low-low) 'fan' are separate words that differ only in tone.  Additionally, in Akan tone also distinguishes certain grammatical categories such as the habitual* and stative** forms of verbs.

04.gif (1034 bytes)     'she wears a dress'      Habitual verbs
05.gif (1045 bytes) 'she has on a dress' Stative verbs

* Habitual form: A verb aspect indicating something done, etc. consistently or habitually.

** Stative form: A verb aspect indicating something done, etc. at one point in time.


In Twi, it is common to have a consecutive sequence of verbs in one sentence.  These verbs are called serial verbs.  For example:

06.gif (909 bytes)         07.gif (883 bytes)                 08.gif (881 bytes)
I'll come   will-receive   play

When the sentence containing serial verbs is negative, all verbs in the sentence get a negative prefix n-.  For example:

Me-n-tumi   n-sre           n-k
I-not-can     not-get-up    not-go
'I cannot get up and go'.

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