Alekano is also known as Gahuku, after the name of the largest clan of speakers, or Gama, after the second largest clan. Calling the language by these names has been rejected by speakers who are not members of these clans, and Alekano has been largely adopted as the official name. The latter name means "bring it". In two closely related languages spoken directly to the northwest, Tokano and Dano, it has the same meaning.
In Alekano, a syllable may be closed only with a glottal stop, as in /ɑʔnesiʔ/ "enough". That is currently not treated as a consonant, but it is unclear if words written as vowel initial begin with a glottal stop. It is written as an acute accent in the orthography, for example, ánesí.
The lateral is initially and between vowels.
The most complex syllables are of the form /CVVʔ/: VV may be a diphthong of /ɑ/, /e/, or /ɤ/ followed by /i/ or /ɯ/, or of /iɯ/. Other vowels may also occur in sequence (hiatus).