Syntax, typology, and information structure -
Avatime, called Siyase or Sideme by its speakers, is a Kwa language, part of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken in the Volta Region of Ghana. It belongs to a group of languages called Ghana-Togo Mountain (GTM) languages. Whether this group is a genetic unity or not is still disputed, but the languages have some typological characteristics in common which set them apart from most other Kwa languages, the most notable being their noun-class systems.
Avatime is a tone language with three distinctive level tones, which are mainly used to make lexical contrasts, but also function in the grammatical domain. It has an advanced tongue root-based vowel harmony system. It has seven noun classes, six of which consist of singular and plural subclasses. The various noun classes are marked by prefixes on the noun. There is concord marking on several types of modifiers and on the verb if the noun is its subject. Mood and aspect are marked by prefixes on the verb; there is no grammatical tense marking. Canonical word order is SVO.
Geography and culture
Avatime is spoken in 8 villages in the Volta Region of Ghana. It has roughly 10,000 speakers. The area where Avatime is spoken is tropical, but because of the hills it has a relatively cool climate. Three of the Avatime villages are located at the foot of the mountain range and the other five are at altitudes varying from 400 to 800 meters above sea level.
Avatime is bordered to the west by Nyangbo and Tafi, two languages closely related to it. North of Avatime is Logba, a more distantly related GTM language and to the south and east are Ewe speaking groups. Ewe is the language of the wider area. It is used as the language of instruction in the first years of primary school and in church services. Therefore, most Avatimes speak Ewe as their second language. Many people also speak some English, which is the national language of Ghana and medium of instruction in the later years of primary school and in secondary school.
The hills and rocks make the Avatime area difficult area to farm, but nevertheless farming is the main occupation. The crops farmed include cassava, yam, cocoyam, plantain, cocoa, maize and rice. The Ghana-Togo mountain groups are noted for rice cultivation, and there are several festivities and traditions attached to this crop. These days however, few Avatimes still cultivate rice, as other crops are easier to grow.