Sisaala Phonology

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The content of this page was developed from the data and technical notes of Steven Moran.


There are twenty-three consonant and nine vowel phonemes in Western Sisaala. Tone is either high or low, and is both lexical and grammtical in the language. Syllables carry tone and have the structure: V, CV(V), CV(V)C. Western Sisaala also has syllabic nasals, and though nasal assimilation has been identified as an allophonic rules in the language, other productive phonological rules are still under investigation.


There are 23 consonant phonemes in Western Sisaala: /p, b, gb, t, d, k, g, f, v, s, z, h, tʃ, dʒ, m, ŋm, n, ɲ, ŋ, l, r, w, j /. All consonants occur word initially and medially, and nasals may also occur word finally. Consonant clusters are limited to consonant stops or the fricative /s/, combined with a voiced alveolar flap or a voiced bilabial approximant. There are eight geminate consonants including: /kk, ss, zz, mm, nn, ŋŋ, ll, rr/ as well as the voiced and nasal labial-velars /gb, ŋm/.

Sisaala consonant chart
Bilabial Labial-velar Labiodental Alveolar-dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Stops p b g b t d k g
Fricatives f v s z h
Affricates tʃ dʒ
Nasals m ŋm n ɲ ŋ
Liquids - lateral l
Liquids - flap r
Semi-vowels w j


Five, seven, and nine vowel systems are widely found in Africa. Western Sisaala has a nine vowel system in which all vowel phonemes are voiced: /i, ɩ, e, ɛ, a, u, ʊ, o, ɔ/. Vowel length is phonemic in at least seven vowels: /ii, ee, ɛɛ, aa, uu, oo, ɔɔ/, and there are also numerous vowel diphthongs, as well as two nasalized vowels: õ, ẽ. Western Sisaala seems to have drifted away from a strict +/- ATR vowel harmony that is found in many languages in this area of Ghana. More investigation is needed.

Sisaala vowel chart
Front Central Back
High i ii u uu     ʊ
I o oo
Mid e ee ɔ ɔɔ
ɛ ɛɛ
Low a aa

Follow the path of the Sisaala Data

  1. Get started: Summary of the Sisaala conversion
  2. Digitize Text: Text section (Classroom)
  3. Create a Database: XML section (Classroom)
  4. Digitize Audio: Audio section (Classroom)
  5. Digitize Video: Video section (Classroom)
  6. Register Metadata: Metadata section (Classroom)

User Contributed Notes
E-MELD School of Best Practices: Sisaala Phonology
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