Vol 27 No 4 (2018): Nordic Journal of African Studies
Articles Linguistics

Òun, ohun, ohùn: an experimental study of /h/ in Yoruba

Kolawole Adeniyi
Department of Linguistics and African Languages, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
Published May 21, 2019
  • Yoruba,
  • orthography,
  • tone,
  • variation,
  • pronoun,
  • West Benue-Congo
  • ...More


This article reports the results of an experimental study of the realisation of /h/ in Yoruba. The aim was to determine whether the 1974 orthography convention requiring that òun “3rd Sg” be written without “h” while ohun “thing” be written with the letter in order to distinguish between the two words had any empirical basis. The results show that “h” is rather more frequently realised in òun than in ohun. It is then argued that òun has a V-CV structure in harmony with other Yoruba pronouns, and that the dichotomy introduced in the 1974 orthography convention both lacks empirical support and breaks the pattern of Yoruba pronouns.


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