Języki Iranu – ogólnie

Gdzie indziej (tutaj) zajmuję się językami irańskimi, tu zaś – językami Iranu. To drugie pojęcie jest od pierwszego jednocześnie węższe, bo nie obejmuje np. osetyńskiego czy jagnobi, których w Iranie się nie używa; oraz szersze, bo wchodzą w jego zakres także języki innych niż irańska (czy nawet indoeuropejska) rodzin. Staram się by wyliczenie było kompletne, więc będę wdzięczny za wszelkie uzupełnienia.

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Ewe sounds

Ewe sounds and pronunciation

This page will serve as a reference to Ewe sounds and pronunciation. As with other sections, its beginnings are very modest, but it will gradually grow, becoming more comprehensive and better organised.

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Ewe phrases

Ewe phrases

This is a list of useful phrases and sayings in Ewe. Expect it to grow.

Greetings

Ŋdi
Good morning
Ŋdɔ
Good day (used from around noon)
Ŋdɔ na wo
Good day to you (na=to; wo=you)
Fiɛyi
Good evening
Aƒeame ɖe
how is your home (asking about family)
Mefɔ nyui
I am doing well
Ezã ne nyɔ
good night
Eyi sɔ
See you tomorrow
Mia dogo
Goodbye

Polite expressions

Aƒenɔ
Mrs., Lady (a polite term of address)
Aƒetɔ
Mr., Lord, Sir (a polite term of address)
Akpe
Thanks! Thank you
Meɖekuku
Please
Meɖekuku
Pardon (yes, it means both)

First facts about Ewe

Ewe? What is it?

Ewe language or Eʋegbe in Ewe itself, is an African language spoken in south Togo and south-eastern Ghana (eastwards from the Volta river) by at least 3 million people. In both countries it is recognised as one of the national languages, enjoying particular prominence in Togo, where at least 40% of population speaks it natively and many non-Ewe people know it as their second (or third or…) language.

Along with a number of neighbouring languages (Fon, Aja and Mina to name a few) it belongs to the so-called Gbe group, which is quite tightly-knit with a good degree of mutual intelligiblity. Some of the other important languages of the region, like eg. Akan languages and Ga are related to Gbe (and thus to Ewe) within the Kwa sub-family, others yet, like Yoruba or Kabiye, are their kin on a more distant level.

Ewe displays many characteristics common to the languages of the area and Gbe languages in particular. It is tonal, makes use of the peculiar kp and gb sounds, has highly analytical syntax and SVO word order, employs serial verb constructions and ideophones. All in all, it is a truly fascinating, if difficult, language. Below, some snapshots to give you a taste.

Indian connection? Rather not.

The nature of the relation between a language’s grammar and the way its speakers see the world is subject to much speculation. For instance, it is often said that the fact the same Hindi word, kal means both “yesterday” and “tomorrow” testifies to the power of Indian belief in circular nature of time. What is not said so often is that Ewe also uses a single word for both concepts! In Ewe, etsɔ means both “yesterday” and “tomorrow” (to specify, you say “etsɔ which passed” or “etsɔ which will come”)

Naming system

Ewes, like their neighbours name their children according to the day they were born in. For instance, a boy born on Friday is named Kɔfi and a boy born on Sunday is named Kɔsi Stay tuned for a full list of “weekday names” in Ewe and much more. Elsewhere on this website, there is a text explaining a particular case of name-giving.

Special sounds: kp and gb

In Ewe, as in other languages of the region (including eg. Akan, Yoruba and Igbo), there are some speech sounds quite rarely found in languages spoken elsewhere. “gb” and “kp” are one pair of such “special Ewe sounds”. In linguistic jargon they’re called labiovelar stops which means, broadly that they sound as if someone tried to pronounce g and b (or k and p) all at once not in succession. The audible effect is somewhat similar to an imitation of sounds made by a hen.

Different tone

Ewe is a tonal language. What this means is that the meaning of a word changes if it is pronounced in a different pitch (musical height). For instance, the word bu said with a low pitch means “respect”, but when it’s said with a high pitch it means “lose”. Normally, there are two contrasting tones in Ewe: high and non-high, but the latter, depending on a word, can come in two variants: low and mid. Additionally, the tones (pitches) of neighbouring words sometimes interfere with each other in quite complex ways. One of the results of such interaction are complex tones: falling and rising. All in all we have no less than five pitches in Ewe: high, mid, low, falling and rising.