Entries explained

Structure of the Dictionary

Lexical item: this is the headword, the word that the entry is about, and that which the user can search. In this dictionary, almost all entries consist of a single word, listed in alphabetical order. Two-word expressions or lexemes are usually included in the entry for the first word, as an example of its usage. However, some two-word expressions that are especially common or have special meaning have been given separate entries. For both lexical items (headwords) and the examples of usage, this dictionary follows the orthography approved by the Bongo and Bolgatanga District Assemblies and published in 2001.

Nouns in most cases are listed in the singular form, and the plural is given in the entry (see below). However there are a few cases of nouns that exist only in the plural, or are much more frequently used in the plural, that are listed in that form.

In a few cases, the lexical item begins with a hyphen, for example -ŋa "that", and the numerals. These are words that are used with a prefix, which changes according to the number (singular/plural) and/or the nominal class of the word that the entry modifies or refers to. The word with the prefix is also listed in the dictionary but the main entry will be displayed with the hyphen and no prefix.

Subscript number: if there is more than one word, with exactly the same spelling, each one is given a number, printed as a subscript. This number is also provided in the English-Gurenɛ glossary, and is intended to make, cross-referencing between the dictionary and the glossary easier.

Pronunciation: Gurenɛ spelling is generally a good guide to the pronunciation, but it does not indicate everything. Therefore, the first item of information following the headword is the pronunciation, given in IPA phonetic symbols in square brackets.

All ten Gurenɛ vowels are indicated in the pronunciation. Nasal vowels are indicated by a nasal sign under the vowel, as in [a̰], unlike in the normal orthography where it is indicated by the same sign but above the vowel(ã).

Gurenɛ has weak syllables, which are the second syllable in a three-syllable word, or the second and third syllable in a four-syllable word. The pronunciation of the vowel in weak syllables is variable but completely non-contrastive, i.e., it cannot affect the meaning, and is often influenced by the nature of the vowel of the first syllable. In some related languages (such as Dagbani and even more so in Moore) it is not part of the spelling at all. In Gurenɛ it is written "e". To avoid possible confusion between this and the normal "e" vowel sound, in the pronunciation given between brackets this vowel is indicated by the schwa vowel [ə].

Tone is represented by the customary marks over vowels: the acute (á), for high tone, the grave (à) for low tone. Tone is marked on the first syllable, and again on the last syllable of a simple word if it is different from the tone of the first syllable. (Tones of middle syllables, if any, are variable and make no difference to the meaning.) For compound words, each part of the compound has its own tone pattern, and so each is tone marked, following the same rule.

The first root syllable of a word has the accent. In a simple word with no prefix, the accent is not marked; it is always on the first syllable. In compounds, there is an accent on the first syllable of each root. The sign ' in the phonetic transcription precedes the accented syllables of each part of a compound after the first one. If the word has a prefix, the accent mark is also placed before the first accented syllable. Thus [à'dɩ̰̀ŋə'tèʔele] indicates that adiŋete’ele is a compound word that has a prefix and two main parts. Each part including the prefix has low tone throughout, and the syllables [dɩ̰̀] and [tè] are accented.

Grammatical Function: The pronunciation is followed by an indication of whether the word is a verb, a noun, an adjective etc. (see the list of abbreviations). If the same word can have more than one grammatical function, e.g. if it exists as both a noun and a verb, the functions are listed, with examples, in different paragraphs.

Meaning: Next comes the meaning in English. Depending on the kind of word, this may be a simple gloss or an elaborate definition. If a word has two or more related but distinguishable meaning, they are numbered: 1), 2), etc.

Examples of Usage: For many words, especially verbs, an example of usage is given, either a sentence or, in the case of nouns and adjectives, a phrase. This is to make the meaning clearer, and also to demonstrate how the word combines grammatically with other words.

Other Information: Some entries contain additional information at the end of the entry. Most nouns are given with a label for the class pair they belong to, under the heading Prdm (Paradigm), plus their plural form (or singular form, if the plural is more common). Entries for names of plants and animals include the scientific name (in italics and underlined) wherever this could be determined. Most verb entries include the imperfective, the gerundive and the agentive forms.


If the word is borrowed, the language it has been borrowed from is indicated as From: followed by an abbreviation of the language name, and with the form in that language where possible, except for borrowings from English, which are usually obvious. Variant indicates a pronunciation variant. The instruction See: refers the user to either a word of similar meaning or a related entry.