Chakali language

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Native speakers
6,000 (2003)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3cli

Chakali is a Gur language of Ghana, spoken in several villages in the Wa East District of the Upper West Region. The majority of Chakali are bilingual in Wali[3].

Chakali speaking villages in Ghana: Gurumbele, Motigu, Sogla, Tuosa, Tiisa and Katua


Chakali phonology is typical of Gur languages, with tone, vowel harmony, and labial–velar consonant


Chakali contrasts long and short vowels, as well as advanced and retracted tongue root vowels, which play a role in vowel harmony. While typically treated as a "neutral" vowel for tongue root harmony, /a/ might surface as [ɑ] following -ATR vowels, but this is not phonemic. Additionally, [ə] arises during epenthesis or vowel reduction.

Front Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close ɪ i ʊ u
Mid ɛ e ɔ o
Open a

All phonemic vowels can also appear nasalized, which is often due to the influence of a neighboring nasal consonant or glottal fricative. Nasal vowels do occur phonemically in certain words[3], as demonstrated by near-minimal or minimal pairs:

  • /zʊ̀ʊ̀/ 'enter', /zʊ̃̀ʊ̃̀/ 'laziness'
  • /fáà/ 'ancient', /fã̀ã̀/ 'do by force'
  • /tùù/ 'go down', /tṹṹ/ 'honey'


  Labial Alveolar Postalveolar/
Velar Glottal
plain labial
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ ŋ͡m  
Stop p  b t  d t͡ʃ  d͡ʒ k  ɡ k͡p  ɡ͡b ʔ
Fricative f  v s  z       h
Approximant   l j   w  
Rhotic   r~ɾ        
  • /t/ surfaces as [r] in word-final or word-medial onset position.[3]
  • /k/ and /g/ usually surface as [ɣ] between vowels.[3]
  • All nasals are realized as [ŋ] in word-final position.[3]


Chakali is a subject–verb–object language.


  1. ^ Chakali at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Chakali". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c d e Brindle, Jonathan. 2017. A dictionary and grammatical outline of Chakali. Berlin: Language Science Press. ISBN 978-3-944675-91-6 DOI 10.5281/zenodo.344813. Open Access