Help:IPA/Swahili

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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Swahili language pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. This reflects Standard Swahili, and dialects may have more or fewer phonemes.

English approximations are, in some cases, very loose. They are intended to give only a general idea of the pronunciation.

Consonants
IPA Examples Nearest English equivalent
ɓ baba [ˈɓɑɓɑ] 'father' bill
ɗ dola [ˈɗɔlɑ] 'dollar' delta
ð dhambi [ˈðɑᵐbi] 'sin, offence'[1] that
ʄ ~ dʒ maji [ˈmɑʄi ~ ˈmɑdʒi] 'water' jab
f fisi [ˈfisi] 'hyena' focus
ɠ gani [ˈɠɑni] 'what, of which' gag
ɣ ghali [ˈɣɑli] 'expensive'[1] Scottish loch but voiced
h uhuru [uˈhuɾu] 'freedom' ahead
j yeye [ˈjɛjɛ] 'he/she' yellow
k kitabu [kiˈtɑbu] 'book' scald
l lakini [lɑˈkini] 'but'[2] lack
m damu [ˈɗɑmu] 'blood' mocha
mtoto [m̩ˈtɔtɔ] 'child' rhythm
ᵐb mbali [ˈᵐbɑli] 'far' clamber
ᶬv mvinyo [ˈᶬviɲɔ] 'spirits' Humvee
n nini [ˈnini] 'what' ninny
nchi [ˈn̩tʃi] 'country' even (syllabic nasal)
ⁿd muhindi [muˈhiⁿdi] 'corn, maize' handy
ᵑɡ ngoma [ˈᵑɡɔmɑ] 'drum' finger
ⁿdʒ injili [iˈⁿdʒili] 'gospel' range
ⁿz kwanza [ˈkwɑⁿzɑ] 'to begin' pansy
ɲ nyoka [ˈɲɔkɑ] 'snake' canyon
ŋ ng'ombe [ˈŋɔᵐbɛ] 'cow, ox' sing
p kikapu [kiˈkɑpu] 'basket' spill
ɾ rafiki [ɾɑˈfiki] 'friend'[2] robot
s sisi [ˈsisi] 'we' stole
ʃ shamba [ˈʃɑᵐbɑ] 'farm, field' shell
t moto [ˈmɔtɔ] 'fire' stand
chumba [ˈtʃuᵐbɑ] 'room' chase
θ thelathini [θɛlɑˈθini] 'thirty'[1] think
v vitabu [viˈtɑbu] 'books' vittle
w watu [ˈwɑtu] 'people' with
x subulkheri [suɓulˈxɛɾi] 'good morning'[1] Scottish loch
z maziwa [mɑˈziwɑ] 'milk' zoo
Vowels
IPA Examples Nearest English equivalent
ɑ baba [ˈɓɑɓɑ] 'father' father
ɛ ndege [ˈⁿdɛɠɛ] 'bird' let
i Kiswahili [kiswɑˈhili] 'Swahili (language)' meat
ɔ mtoto [m̩ˈtɔtɔ] 'child' door
u uhuru [uˈhuɾu] 'freedom' fool
Suprasegmentals
IPA Examples Explanation
ˈ safari [sɑˈfɑɾi] 'journey' stress[3]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d Only found in loanwords.
  2. ^ a b Swahili [l] and [ɾ] are merged for many speakers as an alveolar lateral flap; /ɺ/
  3. ^ Stress usually falls on the penultimate syllable of a word.

Bibliography

  • Contini-Morava, Ellen (1997), "Swahili phonology", in Kaye, Allen, Phonologies of Asia and Africa, 1, Eisenbrauns, pp. 841–860 
  • Mohammed, Mohammed Abdullah (2001), Modern Swahili Grammar, Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers Ltd., ISBN 9966-46-761-0 
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