Journal of Universal Language
Sejong University Language Research Institue

Vowel Replacement Patterns in the Mfantse Dialect of Akan

Emmanuel Nicholas Abakah1,
1University of Education, Winneba
Corresponding Author : Emmanuel Nicholas Abakah, Department of Ghanaian Languages Education, University of Education, Winneba, P.O.Box 25, Winneba, Ghana. Phone: +233244732172; Email:

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Jul 28, 2013; Revised: Aug 22, 2013; Accepted: Sep 06, 2013

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


This paper investigates synchronic vowel replacement patterns in the Mfantse dialect of Akan. Hitherto, the Akan vowel harmony system has been the only aspect of vowel replacement process that has received extensive study in the literature, albeit a variety of ways by which vowel replacement comes about in the language exists. In this paper, therefore, we have organised V-replacement into vertical and horizontal vowel shifts. The vertical vowel shift has been subcategorized into upward and downward shifts which may also be referred to as vowel raising and vowel lowering, respectively. The direction of horizontal V shifting system is also parametric whereby a trigger vowel may spread leftwards or right- wards to a target vowel on its left or right, respectively. Furthermore, it will be demonstrated in this paper that a consonant might ostensibly condition vowel replacements in Mfantse but, in reality, such replacements are often brought about by floating vowels. This does not obscure the fact that labial and labial pala- talized glides in Mfantse invariably induce replacement of the vowels that precede them.

Keywords: vowel-replacement; vowel-raising; vertical vowel-shifting; horizontal vowel-shifting; reduplication; consonant-induced vowel replacement



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