For a Kusaal phonology description see the following PDF file «The Structure of Burkina Faso Kusaal» at

or on

Phoneme chart of kusaal consonants

Phonemic vowel chart

Short Long

oral / nasal


oral / nasal


oral / nasal


oral / nasal

Central or. / nas. Back

or./ nas.

High close i u i: u:
High open ɩ       ɩ̃ ʋ       ʋ̃ ɩ:         ɩ̃: ʋ:    ʋ̃:
Mid close e o e: o:
Mid open ɛ       ɛ̃ ɔ       ɔ̃ ɛ:     ɛ̃: ɔ:    ɔ̃:
Low a       ã a:    ã:


The tonal system of Kusaal has three tones, high (H) and mid (M), and low (L) (which actually is phonetically a falling tone) as well as a down-stepped high tone (!H), symbolized by acute accent (á), middle accent (ā), grave accent (à), and for the down-stepped high tone a small elevated exclamation mark before acute accent (ꜝá).

High                                        bã́ŋ                      H                            ‘bangle’

Mid                                         bã̄ŋ                      M                            ‘crocodile’

Low                                        õ̀ bã̀ŋ                  L                             ‘he knows’

High-Down-stepped              kpã́'ʋ́ŋ                 H-ꜝH                       ‘guinea fowl’

Downdrift: The pitch is phonetically lowered at every transition from L to H. Pitch lowering can progress to a point that a H tone relatively late in the utterance has a lower pitch than an earlier L tone.

Stress is on the penultimate syllable.