N'ko diacritics, punctuation, apostrophes etc

I ni ke An ka taa forum!

So I’ve been trying to understand and learn Nko for a couple of months already and I have a number of questions:

-What is this for ߳
-What is the difference between the high tone apostrophe and low tone apostrophe, how do they work “ߴ /ߵ”
-How to use this and what is its name ߶
-How to use this and its name ߑ
-Same here ߽

I’ve been doing some deep research and found info on all characters but these, and the info I found on these was very vague not very detailed and confusing.

Ala ye bi diya, an bɛn

Pd: I don’t know if I’m posting in the correct section (maybe I should have posted it Nko dɔrɔn, if so then I’ll change it) , also I don’t know if I am abusing the forum for my own benefit, if so, I will remove the message.

1 Like

Nba! I ni ke, Miguel!

Your questions are good ones, but they are very “in the weeds” of N’ko orthography :wink: What I mean is that some of your questions are about very specific diacritics and marks that you don’t really need or see in regular day-to-day N’ko writings.

These two are important for daily reading and writing:

  • High tone and low tone apostrophes

    High = ߴ
    Low = ߵ

    These are used when two vowels meet (like in a “contraction” in English; e.g., “isn’t”, “can’t”, etc). The high one is used when the “dropped” vowel was high tone. The low one is used when the “dropped” vowel was low tone.

  • “Dagbasinna”


    This is used to mark when two consonants meet without a vowel in between them. This is mostly for foreign words since in Manding, most words are CVCV (consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel, etc), etc.

Then there’s this one that isn’t that important:

  • Double dot above


    This is put above vowels and consonants to represent sounds from other languages like French or Arabic (e.g., “u” in French)

As for the others, I had to look them up here (since I never even needed to figure out the usage of the symbols that you ask about even when reading N’ko texts for years for my dissertation).

  • “Dennen”


    Apparently this is used for “remote future placement of the topic under discussion” (I have no idea what this means)

  • Unknown???


    I don’t recognize this from N’ko texts and I can’t find it on this reference page. It could be within this Unicode standard document, but I am not sure.

1 Like

I ni wura, Coleman

First of all, thank you so much for answering that fast and with such a detailed answer, this truly solved all my questions in regard with Nko! I’ve been doing research on this characters for sooo much time and finally having and answer is truly marvelous, i ni ke, ala y’i sada :grin:

So I’ve been working taking a look to the webpages you pasted and I found the answer to the unknown one:

-It’s called the Nko Dantayalan and it seems to be a symbol that indicates the abbreviation of units of measure such as kilometers, grams etc. For example, for kilometers (which is in Nko “kudɛ/ߞߎߘߍ”) it is used ߞ߽, or even for square centimeters (gbàlàcɛ̀mɛ̀fùdùbɛ̃/ߜߟߊ߬ߗߡߍ߬ߝߘߎ߬ߓߍ߲) ߡߗ߽߂

-Also, in regard with the Dennen symbol, if a person like you who knows a lot about mandinka languages and nko doesn’t know what the Dennen symbol is used for exactly, I don’t think is that relevant to know it and probably it isn’t used at all

As I said before thank you very much (I ni ke) and may God repay you (Ala y’i sada)

An bɛn

1 Like