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Akan

Akan is a language that is the principal native language of Akan lands in Ghana, spoken over much of the southern half of that country, by about 58% of the population, and among 30% of the population of Ivory Coast. In 1978 the Akan Orthography Committee (AOC) established a common orthography for all of Akan, which is used as the medium of instruction in primary school by speakers of several other Akan languages such as Anyi, Sefwi, Ahanta, and the Guang languages. The language came to the Caribbean and South America, notably in Suriname spoken by the Ndyuka and in Jamaica by the Jamaican Maroons known as Coromantee, with enslaved people from the region. The descendants of escaped slaves in the interior of Suriname and the Maroons in Jamaica still use a form of this language, including Akan naming convention, in which children are named after the day of the week on which they are born, e.g. Akwasi/Kwasi (for a boy) or Akosua (girl) born on a Sunday.

Because the Akan dialects' phonologies differ slightly, Asante dialect will be used to represent Akan. Asante, like all Akan dialects, involves extensive palatalisation, vowel harmony, and tone terracing. The Akan dialects have fourteen to fifteen vowels: four to five "tense" vowels (advanced tongue root, or +ATR), five "lax" vowels (retracted tongue root, or −ATR), which are adequately but not completely represented by the seven-vowel orthography, and five nasal vowels, which are not represented at all. All fourteen were distinguished in the Gold Coast alphabet of the colonial era.

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