Lesson 39: 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:

Wrong Correct English
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 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:

Wrong Correct English
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:

Wrong Correct English
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:

Wrong Correct English
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’.

Wrong Correct English

me aduane

maduane

m’aduane my food

me aso

maso

m’aso my ear

ne abansoro

nabansoro

n’abansoro his/her storey building

wo akoma

wakoma

w’akoma your heart

ne adagya

nadagya

n’adagya his/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:

Wrong Correct English
m’ada mada I’ve slept
w’akwadare wakwadare he/she is skilled at…
m’apira mapira I’m wounded
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:

Wrong Correct English
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.

Wrong Correct English
memba memma I won’t come
mɛnda mɛnna don’t sleep
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:

Wrong Correct English
afutuo afotuo advice
nkunim nkonim victory
bɛɛma barima male/man
mmra mmara rules/laws
ayaresa bea ayaresabea hospital
anaa sɛ anaasɛ or
ketoa ketewa small
ntɛm ntam between
aware gyaeɛ awaregyaeɛ divorce (noun)
biibi biribi something
bebiree bebree many
mprɛ pii mpɛn pii often/many a time
koom komm quiet
efirisɛ ɛfiri sɛ because
gyesɛ gye sɛ unless
biaa biara every
tintin tenten tall
tietia tiatia short
seyaa sei ara just like this
abaayowa abaayewa girl
ɛfɔm ɛfam floor/ground
nkoaa nko ara only
krom kurom town

 

To end the lesson, I am presenting to you some Twi movie and music titles that I sampled from YouTube. Go through them carefully and tick against which ones you believe is correct. Do take your time; you can always refer back to the appropriate section of the lesson if you find any of the sets a bit confusing.

And if you found this lesson useful, please support us by sharing and subscribing to the website. You can do both right beneath this lesson. Thank you for reading and good luck with the quiz.

 

Quiz

metanfo (my enemy)me tamfo (my enemy)
obaa biaa ye obaa (every woman is a woman)ɔbaa biara yɛ ɔbaa (every woman is a woman)
ɛnkɔ den (it should go hard)enko den (it should go hard)
nea mbema pɛ (what men want)nea mmarima pɛ (what men want)
m'akoma (my heart)makoma (my heart)
mebie gya (lit: I open fire)me bie gya (lit: I open fire)
y3 wo krom (we are in town)yɛwɔ kurom (we are in town)
mawani nnaho (be vigilant/alert)ma w'ani nna hɔ (be vigilant/alert)
tenten (tall/long)tintin (tall/long)
na me nnim (I didn't know then)na mennim (I didn't know then)
kano seyaa (say it just like this)ka no sei ara (say it just like this)
m'abrabɔ mu nsɛm (my life's story)ma brabo mu nsɛm (my life's story)




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Tikya Yaw
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4 Responses
    1. Yaw

      Lol yes. The exercises are meant to help me know you grasped the lesson and to help you recall what you’ve just learnt. Good job!

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