This article includes a list of references, related reading, or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (July 2022)
Avatime, also known as Afatime, Sideme, or Sia, is a Kwa language of the Avatime (self designation: Kedone (m.sg.)) people of eastern Ghana. The Avatime live primarily in the seven towns and villages of Amedzofe, Vane, Gbadzeme, Dzokpe, Biakpa, Dzogbefeme, and Fume.
Avatime is a tonal language with three tones, has vowel harmony, and has been claimed to have doubly articulated fricatives.
Avatime has nine vowels, /i ɪ e ɛ a ɔ o ʊ u/, though the vowels /ɪ ʊ/ have been overlooked in most descriptions of the language. It is not clear if the difference between /i e o u/ and /ɪ ɛ ɔ ʊ/ is one of advanced and retracted tongue root (laryngeal contraction), as in so many languages of Ghana, or of vowel height: different phonetic parameters support different analyses.[note 1]
Avatime has vowel harmony. A root many not mix vowels of the relaxed /i e o u/ and contracted /ɪ ɛ a ɔ ʊ/ sets, and prefixes change vowels to harmonize with the vowels of the root. For example, the human singular gender prefix is /ɔ ~ o/, and the human plural is /a ~ e/: /o-ze/ "thief", /ɔ-ka/ "father"; /be-ze/ "thieves", /ba-ka/ "fathers"; also /o-bu/ "bee" but /ɔ-bʊ/ "god".[note 2]
Vowels may be long or short. Records from 1910[clarification needed] showed that all vowels could be nasalized, but that is disappearing, and few words with nasal vowels remained by the end of the century.
|Plosive||p b||t d||k ɡ||k͡p ɡ͡b|
|Affricate||t͡s d͡z ~ t͡ʃ d͡ʒ|
|Fricative||β||f v||s z||x ɣ||xʷ ɣʷ|
|Approximant||l ~ r||j||w|
/ɸ/ is found in Ewe borrowings, as is /kʷ/, which can be seen to be distinct from /kw/ (which cannot be followed by another consonant) in the loanword /àkʷlɛ̄/ "boat".
The language has been claimed to have doubly articulated fricatives /x͡ɸ ɣ͡β/. However, as with similar claims for Swedish [ɧ], the labial articulation is not fricated, and these are actually labialized velars, /xʷ ɣʷ/. All velar fricatives are quite weak, and are closer to [h ɦ hʷ ɦʷ].
The affricates vary between [t͡s], [d͡z] and [t͡ʃ], [d͡ʒ], which may be a generational difference.
Syllables are V, CV, CGV, and N: Avatime allows consonant-approximant clusters, where the approximant may be /l/, /w/, /j/. There is also a syllabic nasal, which takes its own tone: /kpāŋ̄/ "many".
Any consonant but /n/, /l/ may form a cluster with /l/: /ɔ̀kplɔ̄nɔ̀/ "table", /ɔ̀ɡblāɡɛ̄/ "snake", /káɣʷlɪ̀tsã̀/ "chameleon", /sɪ̄ŋʷlɛ̀sɛ̃̀/ "mucous". After a coronal consonant, the /l/ is pronounced [r].
When two vowels come together, they are either separated by a glottal stop [ʔ], fuse into a single vowel, or the first vowel reduces to a semivowel. In the latter case, the four front vowels reduce to [j] and three of the back vowels reduce to [w], but /u/ is fronted to [ɥ].
However, there are /Cw/ and /Cj/ sequences which are not derived from vowel sequences. These are /fw/, /mw/, /fj/, /vj/, /βj/, /tj/, /dj/, /sj/, /zj/, /lj/, /ŋʷj/.
- The UCLA Phonetics Lab Archive: Avatime - Phonetic fieldwork on Avatime
- ^ Avatime at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022)
- Maddieson, Ian (October 1995). "Collapsing vowel harmony and doubly-articulated fricatives: two myths about the phonology of Avatime". Fieldwork Studies of Targeted Languages III. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics. 91: 67–84.
- Schuh, Russel (1995). "Aspects of Avatime phonology". Studies in African Linguistics. 24 (1): 31–67. doi:10.32473/sal.v24i1.107410. S2CID 118027311.