Accent and tone markings

In all the vocabularies in each of the lessons of the Zarma course, not only the meaning of the words is given, but the new words are marked for tone, for accent, and for length of vowels as well.


A low tone of voice is indicated by an underline beneath the syllable and a high tone by a syllable in italic. However, some words of a single syllable, and some initial of final syllables have two tones on the same syllable, and the under-line or italic in the proper place indicates this.

There are some words in Zarma that can only be distinguished by the proper tone when pronouncing them. Some words said in isolation have a different one from what they have in sentences. Only practice in hearing and saying them and making foolish mistakes will teach these details. They will laugh at your mistakes, but they will laugh with you for trying to learn.

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The syllable on which the principle emphasis falls in any word of two or more syllables is indicated by a diagonal mark (/) at the end of that syllable.

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Vowel length

Some long vowels are indicated by a doubling of the vowel, where there is a "minimal pair" (another word meaning something different, but spells something like; as in kani-lie versus kaani).

In the vocabularies, other long vowels will be marked with circumflex accent (^), e.g. â, ê, î, û. Short vowels are marked by an accent mark (`), e.g. à, è.

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Last updated: 29 januari 2006