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Swahili Alphabet

Guest Author - Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu

Vowels

All vowel sounds are short. For example:

A as in 'car'
E as in 'red'
I as the 'ee' sound in 'peel'
O as in 'off'
U as the 'oo' sound in 'cool'


Consonants

These never vary in sound.

B as in 'bat'
C is only found coupled with H as CH. This is pronounced as the CH in 'church'.
D as in 'duck'
F as in 'far'
G as in 'give'
H as in 'hit'
J as in 'jump'
K as in 'kite'
L as in 'lick'
M as in 'men'
N as in 'not'
P as in 'pea'
R as in 'rake'
S as in 'stop'
T as in 'time'
V as in 'vine'
W as in 'will'
Y as in 'yam'
Z as in 'zoo'


A note about consonants:
If a consonant occurs without a vowel at the beginning of a word, it is usually given it's own syllable. For example:
mtoto (child) is pronounced M-TOE-TOE
ndiyo (four) is pronounced N-DEE-YO

The Swahili alphabet contains 24 letters. The letters Q and X are not included in the Swahili alphabet.

Combinations

Lonely Planet Swahili PhrasebookThese are not considered as separate letters.

CH as in 'church'
DH as the TH is 'that', never the TH in 'think'
GH a voiced gutteral sound
KH found in Arabic words only. A voiceless gutteral sound similar to the Scottish CH in 'loch'
NG' similar to the NG sound in 'singer'
NG each consonent is given its normal pronunciation. Ngapi (how much) is pronounced N-GAW-PEE
NY as in 'Kenya'
SH as in 'shop'
TH as in 'think'

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Content copyright © 2014 by Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Dawn Denton for details.

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