The Yoruba language is a tonal language with three relative tone
(or pitch) bands represented by acute accents over the high
tones, grave accents over the low tones, and no diacritical marks
over the middle tones. Yoruba has eighteen consonants, seven
oral vowels, and five nasal vowels, plus a syllabic nasal. All the
vowels have a tone and can be marked by subdots, as can the
consonant ‘‘≠ s.’’ For example:
high tone— ok ó (hoe)
middle tone— ok o (husband)
low tone— ok ò (boat)
Subdots indicate the following pronunciations:
e as in gay
e as in net
o as in boat
o as in hot
s as in so
s as in show
The letter ‘‘n’’ at the end of a word or before a consonant
nasalizes the preceding vowel (as in French), and the sequence
‘‘an’’ becomes almost identical in pronunciation to ‘‘on,’’ result-
ing in near homophones such as efan and ef f on . Written ‘‘p’’ is
pronounced as the voiceless labial-velar stop ‘‘kp’’ where ‘‘k’’ and
‘‘p’’ are simultaneously pronounced, and the labial-velar stop
‘‘gb’’ is its voiced counterpart.
In Brazil, the language employed in Candomblé rituals is
called Nagô. It does not have any subdots and loses the three
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