As we said before, Ígáláà is a tonal language; in other words, only tone introduces a meaning in a word. For instance, the duplicated consonant, ‘k k,’ is meaningless because there is no vowel bearing a tone or two to give it meaning. But when we add the low-toned vowel, ‘à’ and the high-toned ‘é,’ a meaning emerges: a short sentence, a command: Kà ké. (Say it now).
The Igala speech uses a number of tones, namely: High, Mid, Low and Mid-High tones; and the Extra High tone, sounding shrill like none of the ones mentioned, usually occurring at the end of negative and other rare statements. This tone is represented by a dot-bearing ‘n’ (ṅ). The four tone variants are shown below with their corresponding tone (or accent) marks and are also phonetically-transcribed to demonstrate how they are articulated, with examples translated to English:
Examples of the sounds
ájá (Market); éwó (goat)
awa; awa; agba (Casual greeting)
Ọ́mátā (name); Ọ́fákāga (town)
àjà (bird, Night jar); ùlẹ̀ (walk)e
égbé (grass); úlé (run)
hieele (all); che (to do)
égélē (a bird);
ènè (question); Ètè (town)
pẹ́ẹ́ (a little); fẹ́fẹ́ (to be very clean)
ẹ; wẹ (pron.) you; gbẹ (to dry)
Á í dẹ̄?: How is it? Áñẹ́jẹ̄ (tortoise)
ẹ̀tẹ̀ (source); Ẹ̀dẹ̀ (Igala day/name)
/ Í /
fÍÍlÍ (to be thin); míílí (to be slim)
/ i /
Iii (yes); Òmii? (Is it me?)
/ Ī /
Ẹ́nẹ́ lī? (Who saw it?) Ọ́jaīnā (Royal Necropolis at Ídá)
/ ì /
ìtì (cheek); jìm (darkly)
óbó (soup); ólóló (intensity)
Oo (Casual: I have heard you).
òdò (yellow; dwelling place).
ọ́lọ́ (deformity); ẹ́nẹ-ọlọ́ (a physically challenged person.
Ábọ (Title Greeting); ọ̀lọ (skyward).
úlú (seedling); úgwúnú (vulture)
lu (of light) to go off. Look up ‘úná.’
ny’ánūnū (to dye a clothing).
ùmù (lantern). Look up ‘ẹ̀mùtúla.’