Module 2
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). 

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