One of the most intriguing features of most African languages is that of tone, by which variations in speech tone generate different meanings (Pike, 1948, offers a valuable introduction to this subject and includes an extensive bibliography; Fromkin, 1972, is a comprehensive evaluation of specialised studies). In the Ewe language, for example, the word to [H] pronounced with a high tone means ‘ear’, as in To le venye (HLMM), ‘I have an earache.’ To can also mean ‘through’, Meto akonta me [MHLHML], ‘I have gone through the accounts.’ But as soon as the high tone is replaced by a low one the meaning of the word changes drastically: to [L] means ‘thick’ as in Dzogbo la to [LHHL], ‘The porridge is thick’. Similarly, mi [H] is a pronoun for the first person plural (Mieto adegbe, ‘We are on the way to the hunt’). The same word refers to ‘faeces’ as in [HL], ‘goat's faeces’. A shift of tone from high to low results in a change of meaning. Mi [L] is a pronoun for the second person plural (Mile tsi [LLM], ‘You (should) take a bath’); it also means ‘swallow’ (mi amatsi, ‘swallow [or take] the medicine’). The phenomenon is not restricted to monosyllables. Kuku [HH] refers to a ‘hat’ (Meɖe kuku na wo, ‘I remove your hat,’ which is a figurative way of saying ‘I beg you’). Kuku [LH] on the other hand refers to ‘death’. Asi [LH] is the word for ‘hand’, while asi [LM] denotes ‘market’. Tone is operative on a number of levels within the syntagmatic chain: on the level of syllable, word, phrase and sentence. Furthermore, a number of constraints—syntactic, international or natural factors—influence the disposition of speech tones (consult Ansre, 1961, for information about Ewe tone and Dakubu, 1988, for the most recent study of this and other aspects of Ghanaian languages).