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Harmony - Ndákọlitá

Agglutination, harmony, and assimilation of vowels.

Igbo, a Kwa language spoken in Nigeria, has a constraint prohibiting two different vowels from being adjacent to one another. In order to avoid having violations of this constraint at the surface level, assimilation of the first vowel to the second often takes place. Although many people have studied the language and noted this process, no one has provided a satisfying explanation for the fact that there is variation in this assimilation process. That is, assimilation occurs usually, but not always. A native speaker's intuition is that it depends on the rate of speech and whether or not there is a pause between the words. Although this may account for some of the variation, it certainly does not explain it all.

Nagy 1992

Is there a specific word for this?


  1. F*CKING AWESOME(pardon my language)!! I know a quick remedy to this problem. We need to look for Igbo owned websites/blogs/businesses to demonstrate this to. We need to be apt in spreading the news, both supporters as well as you Gin. I will be sure to do my best to create awareness of this amazing feat, this goes for YOUR OTHER SUPPORTERS AS WELL. By doing this, it should help to alleviate the stagnation of your progress. Meanwhile, this should buy you enough time to meet with SPILC, not to mention it should already be in extensive use should we follow this plan accordingly.

  2. STA, great initiative. I've been contacting all the Igbo language websites I can, but the real work happens when i hit Nigeria for a long stay (instead of a usual short visit). I'm not worried by the current slower pace of the project, but I expect to pick up.

  3. I know what it's called in Igbo but I can't tell you what it's called in English.

    It's called 'Olilo uda ume' - Swallowing of vowels, where assimilation occurs, usually the 'stronger sounding vowel' swallows the weaker.

    The second is called 'Ndapu uda ume' where one vowel is dropped completely for ease of speech.

    Actually I just found a better explanation here:

    Was this what you wanted?

  4. Oh, ignore everything I just said. I have just seen the link you included!



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