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Cawyaŋ Zarma Sanni

map of the river Niger
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Pronunciation guide


In any word of two or more syllables the emphasis will usually fall on one of those syllables. Of course, also tone and vowel length will provide a certain emphasis to a part of a word.

Indepent of context or the place of a word in a sentence, in zarma it always is the same syllable that has the accent.

This Zarma course marks a syllable in bold to indicate the syllable with the the principle emphasis.


Accent on the word alfagey

alfagey no It are the marabouts
ay di alfagey I saw the marabouts
ay ci alfagey se I talked with the marabouts
source Hamani, 1980a (page 49)

The general rules for accents are:

  • mono- and two-syllabic words, the accent falls on the first syllable, with the acceptions of words beginning with an a, i or u.
  • two-syllabic words starting with an an a, i or u, the accent falls on the second syllable. Exceptions are names of people, that may still have the accent on the first syllable.
  • words with more than two syllables, the accent falls on the second syllable.


habu market
araŋ you (plural)
iri we
wura gold
boŋkono chief
curkusandi to have lunch
source Hamani, 1980a (page 51)

An accent in Zarma is realised by increasing the exhalation pressure. The vowel of the syllable with the accent has a stronger sound than that of the syllable(s) without accent, and the articulation of the initial consonant is much stronger.

For two-syllabic words beginning with an a, i or u, and for multisyllabic words there a a very brief pause just before the initial consonant of the syllable with accent. For example, there is a short pause between the 'a' and 'raŋ' in araŋ, and between 'boŋ' and 'kono' in boŋkono, and then the 'r' (in 'raŋ') and the 'k' in 'kono' are stressed energetically.



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      Dico Fraters, the Netherlands © 2004-2016      
Last updated: 20 Januari, 2016