There are several ideophones in Siwu that have to do with silence. Here are a few examples:

mì-lo kanananana!
2PL-be.silent IDPH
(y’all) be silent kanananana!
a-rɛ kpooo-o?
2SG-sleep IDPH-Q
did you have a sound sleep?
lò-to lò-karɛ ɔ itɔ̃me a-ɣɛ à-to à-nyɔ mɛ gbigbini-gbi
1SG-PROG 1SG-ask 2SG:O message 2SG-stand 2SG-PROG 2SG-look 1SG:O IDPH-REDUP1
I’m asking you a question and you are standing looking at me gbigbinigbi!
ɔ̀-si mùnùmùnù
3SG-sit IDPH
he just sits mùnùmùnù (sickly without talking)

The implications of these four ideophones are different. The first one is perhaps the most general; it is often heard in requests for silence (esp. in the plural), but I’ve also heard it used to talk about the tranquility of the town. The second one, kpoo, is most commonly heard in the reply to the morning greeting lò yá mì ‘I greet you (pl.)’. It has a positive connotation of nocturnal silence and sound sleep. The other two both carry negative connonations: gbigbinigbi evokes a sulking silence, mùnùmùnù is silence of a more dim-witted, sickly type.

All this by way of announcing a scheduled period of radio silence during my two-month fieldtrip to Ghana from July to September 15th. I’ll be giving talks at the 26th West African Languages Conference in Winneba and the 2nd International Workshop on the GTM languages. The rest of the time I will be in Kawu, transcribing beautiful and sparkling conversation full of ideophones. In between times I may be able to post some snippets, but don’t expect too much — everything will be pretty much kanananana here. See you in September!

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