Lesson 1: The Akan (Twi) Alphabet

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Me nua, wo ho te sɛn? (My sibling (brother/sister), how are you?).

You are welcome to the very first lesson under the Twi Grammar module, here on LearnAkan.Com. This module seeks to teach you the basic grammar rules that make up the Akan language.

In this lesson, we take a look at the Akan Alphabet. I entreat beginner, intermediate and advanced learners alike to take this lesson very seriously as it will form a fundamental basis for future lessons. Memorise the letters of the alphabet and get the sounds they represent right. After that, head on to lessons 2 and 3 of the grammar module and practice the sounds there as well. Once you get all these sounds right, you are on your way to jumping the pronunciation hurdle that most Twi learners face.

Ok, so let’s get started with today’s lesson. If you’d want to watch the video lesson instead, find it embedded below. Otherwise, continue reading beneath it.

 

Video Lesson

 

Both the English language and Akan make use of the Latin script. So, you’ll find that both languages have a similar set of letters making up their alphabet.

In all, the Akan alphabet is made up of 22 letters. Out of these, a whopping 20 are found in the 26-lettered English alphabet.

 

The Akan (Twi) Alphabet

Aa Bb Dd Ee Ɛɛ
Ff Gg Hh Ii Kk
Ll Mm Nn Oo Ɔɔ
Pp Rr Ss Tt Uu
Ww Yy

 

The two letters in red are the only ones that you’ll find in Akan but not in English. Likewise, The Akan alphabet does not have the letters j, q, v, x and z that you find in the English alphabet.

the akan alphabet, the twi alphabet

 

Just like the English alphabet, we can group the letters of the Akan alphabet into two sets (the consonants and the vowels) as shown in the diagram above. In Twi, consonants are referred to as Anom Nnyegyeɛ, and vowels are known as Ɛnne nnyegyeɛ.

Below, I give some examples of Twi words containing each of the letters. We start with the consonants (anom nnyegyeɛ)

 

The Akan (Twi) Consonants

There are 15 consonants in all: b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, w, y.

Consonant Twi Word English
‘b’ bankye

bayerɛ

cassava

yam

‘d’ dad

dadoa

metal

nail (tool)

‘f’

fitaa/fufuo

frankaa

white

flag (noun)

‘g’

go

gu

loosen

sow (seed)

‘h’

huri

hunu

jump (verb)

see

‘k’

kɛntɛn

kuruwa

basket

cup

‘l’

lɔre

ludu

lorry

ludo

‘m’

mukaase

mankani

kitchen

cocoyam

‘n’

nsa

nante

hand (noun)

walk (verb)

‘p’

pɛntoa

praeɛ

(broken) glass

broom

‘r’

twerɛ

pra

write

sweep

‘s’

samina

sapɔ

soap

sponge

‘t’

tɛkyerɛma

tafere

tongue

lick (verb)

‘w’ awareɛ

wie

marriage

finish (verb)

‘y’ yareɛ

yoma

sickness

camel

 

Let’s end with examples of Twi words containing each of the vowels, like we did with the consonants.

 

The Akan (Twi) Vowels

As shown in our earlier diagram, the Akan (Twi) vowels are 7 in all: a, e, ɛ, i, o, ɔ, u.

Vowel Twi Word English
‘a’ adesoa

akoma

burden (noun)

heart (organ)

‘e’ efie

ekuro

home

wound (noun)

‘ɛ’

ɛdɔm

ɛkɔm

crowd (noun)

hunger

‘i’

edin

di

name (noun)

eat

‘o’

osuo

opuro

rain (noun)

squirrel

‘ɔ’

ɔwɔ

ɔsebɔ

snake

tiger

‘u’

Wukuada

sukuu

Wednesday

school (noun)

 

This is where we end the first lesson. You may proceed to Lesson 2: Akan (Twi) Digraphs to continue. Your comments, suggestions and queries would be appreciated greatly. Please leave them in the comments box below or send them to me via [email protected] or [email protected]. Thank you for reading.







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31 Responses
  1. Danso

    Great Lesson…Yaw….You have made me love the Akan Language once again.

    Please can you recommend a Twi textbook in Ghana for J.H.S (Junior High School) students?

    I need a good book to tach my students …..as I combine it with the lesson notes from LearnAkan.com.

    Me Daa se

    1. Yaw

      Thank you Danso, glad to know this project is helping. With regards to a good Twi textbook, the one I know of is written entirely in Twi. If that is OK for you, you may check out the “Jubilee Series” authored by Joseph Kwaku Agyei. I believe he has books for most stages of basic school. I’ll ask some colleagues if they know of others. If I get any extra, I’ll email you. Thanks again.

    2. zuhirah

      You are absolutely wonderful for selflessly providing this course. I am so sincerely grateful for you. Once again, Many Thanks…Zuhirah, New Student

  2. abena agyeman bugyei

    I have been searching for lessons on the Twi language and your lessons are absolutely the best i have seen so far. Thank you!!!!!!!

  3. John Stewart

    Yaw, I do very much enjoy listening to and reading your lessons. Please, how can I obtain the Twi alphabet on the PC or cell phone? Actually, how does one obtain the inverted 3 and C, both small and capital letters? I only see the correct versions on your and other commercial posts. Friends in Ghana in their FB posts use 3 and Cc like I. Is there no app available to install Twi alphabet?

    Thank you, and keep up the great work.

    –John “Kwaku” Stewart
    San Antonio, TX, USA

    1. Yaw

      Hello Kwaku,

      There is a Twi keyboard app on Google play. Search for “Kasahorow Twi keyboard”. They had a Windows/Mac version that you could install on your PC but the last time I checked, that wasn’t working anymore. The mobile app version still works though.

      I created one myself which I use to type the lessons on this blog. Unfortunately, I had a problem with my PC and lost some files/folders, including the setup file of mine. I’ll recreate one and make it available for download on the blog, somehow.

      Thank you, I appreciate the encouragement.

      Yaw.

      1. Marlene Scott

        I want to really thank you for this because my husband is Ghanaian and I really love being able to talk to him in his language as well.Thanks a million.

  4. Asuo Sadat

    Thanks for the effort. please translate the following in English for me
    1. Mfoni
    2. Asemfua/Nsemfua
    3. Dwumadie
    4. Akenkan
    5. Hw3 yeinom

    1. Yaw

      Hello Asuo ?

      1. Mfonin = Photograph/Picture
      2. Asɛmfua/Nsɛmfua = Word/Words
      3. Dwumadie = Exercise
      4. Akenkan = Reading
      5. Hwɛ yeinom = Look at/observe these

  5. Enet Hodgkins

    The best taught lessons I have had. This is brilliant. I’m visiting Ghana in August this year, 2017. I hope I would be able to do greetings and a few sentences.

  6. Kwabenata Brian Smith

    Mii — Slimy

    What dialect of Twi is this word “Mii” spoken? Also, how do you say the word slimy in Asante Twi?

    Ɛdɔm – Crowd

    It was my understanding that the word Ɛdɔm in Twi means “army”. Like in the proverb “Abusua yɛ dɔm – Family is an army”. The word crowd I’ve always known to be “Nipakuo”. Is ɛdɔm the best word to describe “crowd”?

    Meda wo aseɛ pii na mo ne yɔ!

    Kwabenata

    1. Yaw

      Hello Brian, there are actually a couple of terms (in Asante Twi) used to describe something being slimy. You can use “toro”, “torokaa”, “mii”. Again, all those are used in the Asante Twi dialect.

      Ɛdɔm = crowd.
      Nnipa = people
      Kuo = group

      So, “nnipakuo” roughly stands for “a group of people”. “Abusua yɛ dɔm” should translate as “family is crowd” and then what this crowd of a family can do can be compared to that of an army.

  7. Thank you, very much for offering this course. I am American born Akan, discovered through DNA testing. I am planning a trip to Ghana by summer of this year, and do hope to be able to greet and make pleasantries with my cousins. I will be a diligent learner. God bless you for bestowing this gift, propagating these hybrid roots into native waters, to be nurtured again by mother soil. You will ever be blessed!

    1. Yaw

      Thank you so much Sis. :). Good to have you here. Keep up the enthusiasm, and you can always email me with questions, suggestions, requests, etc. God bless you, too 🙂

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