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Hair, P. E. H. (Paul Edward Hedley); Barbot, Jean, 1655-1712 / Barbot's West African vocabularies of c. 1680
(1992)

Note on orthographies and characters,   p. 19


Page 19

NOTE ON ORTHOGRAPHIES AND CHARACTERS


African languages have been and are written and printed in varying orthographies.
The
African-language items below are presented in the orthographies favoured
by the individual
scholars and sources providing them, and are accordingly not consistent as
between the languages.
The scholars who supplied the identifications have employed the orthographies
currently in use
for that language in scholarship or in the relevant country. M. Becker, for
instance, has used
the orthography for Wolof latterly set out in a table of orthographies for
the languages of
Senegal by the Centre de Linguistique Appliquee de Dakar.3' For Akan/Twi,
Christaller in the
nineteenth century employed an elaborate orthographic system, with frequent
diacriticals, whereas
the modern Ghanaian and Ewe scholars employ a much simpler system. The tables
below set out the
Dakar and Chrystaller orthographies.
Non-linguists using the list below should be aware that a particular character
does not
necessarily represent the same sound in different African languages, and
for precision a linguist
specialising in the relevant languages may have to be consulted.
All the modern orthographies used in the list include characters not found
in the English
alphabet as standardly printed, or even in fonts for west-European languages.
While there has
been no problem with characters created by adding diacriticals to standard
characters, I have
been unable to reproduce, on the equipment available to me for the production
of camera-ready
copy, those few additional characters that vary wholly from the standard
ones, generally by
adding a hook or a tail. But to stand in for them I have produced distinct,
albeit very
inelegant, characters, as follows.
In Fula, the distinction between b and 6, d and c, n and A, y and y', is
represented by
a distinction between b and 0, d and 0, n and 0, y and J.
In Akan/Twi and Ewe/Fon, the distinction between e and a, o and a, n and
A, is represented
by a distinction between e and 0, o and 0, n and /.
In Ewe/Fon, the distinction between d and 4 is represented by a distinction
between d and
Note that a diacritical, as in 6 or 6, when combined with a slashed character,
as in #
or 4, may at times be difficult to distinguish. In Akan/Twi, Christaller
frequently used two
diacriticals on a word, as in 0-nim, but on the equipment that printed the
list I could
regrettably only reproduce one (the nasal indicator -), and had to add the
second (the tone
markers, ' or' ) in hand.
Note also the distinction between the three diacriticals, e, e, and e.
24 To be found in the Lexique wolof-franjais, vol. 1.


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