Ashanti Proverbs (The Primitive Ethics Of A Savage People), by Robert Sutherland Rattray, 1916, uses the following notation :

excerpt of the book

I read that Ashanti people speak Twi, yet the Twi alphabet does not seem to have such diacritics as the ones used in the sentence above.

Is this alphabet obsolete (the book is one century old, and it writes Twi with a caron on the 'w'), and if so how would one write this sentence nowadays ?


Thanks to user6726's answer and further investigation, I believe the modern spelling must be close to ɔketew nwe mako na fifiri mfi atwerorɔ.

Notes :

  • I found a few Twi/Akan-English dictionaries online, which proved helpful : J.G. Christaller's very old one, kasahorow.org, twi.bb, enacademic.com.
  • nwe and mfi don't appear directly in dictionaries because the n- and m- are negation prefixes : entries are for we ("chew") and fi ("from").
  • atwerorɔ does not appear either, I guess because it's a rare (or extinguished ?) word : the original source mentions it's a kind of frog, not the common word.

That text uses the old (obsolete) orthography developed by J.G. Christaller about 150 years ago. (t)w̌ represents labio-palatalization, IPA [tɕɥ], which is now simply tw (it's predictable, but was in the old spelling because it's phonetically noteworthy). Akan vowels are a bit challenging since it sounds like they have 3 kinds of mid vowels (ɛ e ɪ but ɪ sounds like e, but not the same as e). Underscore on e,o means [ɛ ɔ], and dots under a vowel means "+ATR". N-dot is [ŋ], and acute accent indicates tone. Diacritics were employed sporadically in the old days (and diacritics are eschewed in the modern world). Can't help with modern spelling.


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