Entries explained

Here are explanations on how to understand the entries in this dictionary. First, please note that the abbreviations and some other repetitive descriptive words in the Lama-French-English dictionary are in French, as French is the primary language for its translation.

Each entry in the dictionary starts with a Lama headword in bold type. See acanɖǝ1 in the example above. This word ends in a subscripted number 1 because there is a second word spelled the same way but with different tones and with an entirely different meaning: acanɖǝ2.

The tones of the word follow in a parenthesis: (àcánɖǝ̂). Very simply put, the tones in àcánɖǝ̂ are low, high, and high-falling. In the word àcɔ̌ ‘fly’ (an insect), the tones are low and low again (phonetically the same) but the second low tone can influence an initial low tone on a following word to go high. See Alphabet and Tone under the Overview tab. And Grammar.

For nouns, the plural form (pl) follows with its tones in parentheses. Some nouns do not have plurals. Some plurals are more common than the singular of the noun, and so the plural is listed first. See the ɖɨhaatɨ example below.

At the end of the first line in the example above, the part of speech is indicated (for example, for nouns, n). See Abbreviations under the Overview tab for the complete list of the parts of speech.

Regarding the meaning of the word, which starts on the second line, if the word has more than one distinct meaning, the first meaning will be preceded by a bolded number 1 followed by a bolded closing parenthesis, as in the noun example above: 1). The second by 2), etc.

Next, in square brackets the singular and plural pronouns for this noun appear according to the class they belong to; there are ten classes. Example from acanɖǝ1: [pron ɖǝ, ya]. See details on noun classes in Grammar under the Language tab.

The definition of the word, which follows the pronouns, is in French (blue print) and English (violet).

For many nouns (and other kinds of words) there are one or more example sentences to show the use of the word in context, if it is necessary. Common words such as dog or tree would not need example sentences.

Under acanɖǝ2 ‘sack’ the semantic domain (champ sémantique) is included, which shows the group of words that share a set of meanings relating to this one. Clicking on the domain word will open up a page of other Lama words semantically related to this one. See Semantic Domains under Browse.

Under acanɖǝ2 there are also two subentries: acama wɔwʋn and mǝla acanɖǝ. Subentries are indented and usually consist of a noun or verb phrase that includes the head word.


Some nouns are typically used in their plural forms, and the singular is rarely ever used. Therefore, a few words in Lama occur alphabetically by their plural forms, and the singular forms follow, as in the example above.


In the example of faar ‘shop’ above, on the first line you will see Français, which indicates that the word faar is borrowed from the French foire (fair in English). Other languages from which Lama has borrowed words include Allemand (German), Anglais (English), Arabe (Arabic), Ewe (Ewe from southern Togo), Haoussa (Hausa, a language of wider communication from Nigeria), Kabye (Kabye, a related language south of the Lamba area), Kadjalla dialecte (a Lama dialect), Tem (a related language and of wider communication around Sokodé, Togo).

Words that are related in some way or other to the headword occur at the end of the second line after Voir (See in English).

After Voir, if the Lama word is followed by a normal-size number in blue, as after asapǝr above, it refers to the first (of several) sense under the headword. If it is followed by a subscripted number, as in mǝdǝ, it refers to the first of (usually) two entries that are homographs (i.e., spelled the same way).


In the two examples above, the abbreviation VAR indicates variants of the headword. These may be slightly different (as under doctor) or very different (as under lamp). They are either variants from within the Kande dialect (used in this dictionary) or variants from the Kadjalla dialect of Lama. Note that they are not clickable and not listed alphabetically in the dictionary.


For verbs, such as fa ‘ask’, vt indicates a transitive verb (as in the first line of the example above) and vi, an intransitive. Next, the verb class is indicated, such as H2 for fa. There are three high tone verb classes (H for haut (high) in French and five low tone ones (B for bas (low) in French. See Grammar under the Language tab for more details.