Toned Vowels & All-Vowel Words
Each of the seven (7) Igala vowels has a peculiar toné and this tone changes at three different pitches – High, Mid and Low – when one is speaking the language. Below are the seven TONED vowels of Igala speech reproduced in three ways reflecting each of the three basic tones mentioned above.
- The first row contains the seven (7) Igala vowels, pronounced with the High tone, marked with the ‘High tone’ symbol, ( ́ ).
- The second row shows the seven (7) vowels, each pronounced with Mid or neutral tone and represented by an empty space ( ) on top of it.
- The third row parades the 7 vowels, each bearing the Low tone, marked with the symbol, ( ̀ ).
á é ẹ́ í ó ọ́ ú a e ẹ i o ọ u à è ẹ̀ ì ò ọ̀ ù
All-vowel words are words that are comprised of double or triple vowels, which do not have any consonants in their make-up. Examples includẹ
(i) aa : This duplicated, mid-toned letter ‘a’ is a casual and abbreviated form of the Igala greeting, ‘awa’ or ‘agba. (ii) ‘O-o,’ ‘I-i,’ ‘E-e,’ & ‘Ẹ-ẹ.’ Each of these sets of duplicated vowels – all mid-toned – means ‘Yes,’ or an affirmative answer to a question.. (iii) ‘Í-íì,’ Ẹ́-ẹ́ẹ̀ or ‘Á-áà.’ Each of these three vowel-words is a casual, negative response to a question. (Synonyṃ: Ọ́dáà (No), used in formal situations, whose constituent tones each word retains).
(iv) ‘È-é!’ This all-vowel exclamatory word, conveys different shades of meanings: (a) The speaker is afraid at a scary prospect. E.g. È-é! Òmií lè nóò. (I am not going there). (b) It is used to marvel at something appealing. E.g. È-é! Í ch’ukọ́lọ́ kékélé nóò! (What a great job this is).
(v) ‘Óóó!’ This high-toned, triple vowel word may be used in three different circumstances: (a) To express regret for doing something wrong. E.g. Óóó, ú mà ní káálíì. (Oh, I regret it, I didn’t know). (b) Used to express pity or empathy. E.g. Óóó, ọ́ma kẹ́kẹ́-īii? (Oh, this poor little child?)
(vi) ‘Óó-ò!’ This agitated, triple vowel-word is used to express frustration or exasperation. E.g. Óó-ò!’ Jẹ́ mi mí-ìì. (Oh! Allow me to rest). (Synonym: ‘Á-á-á-ì,’ exclamation in reaction to physical pain).