Learn Yoruba for Beginners – Lesson 12 : Yoruba Alphabets & Pronunciation Guide

Introduction

Alphabets

According to my weak research, there are 25 characters/letters  in the yoruba language ( please use the references below). Keep in mind that there are other letters/characters that are used but they are mostly pronounced exactly like in English. So I left them out here.

Letter Tones English Equivalent
A á,ā,à c(a)r, (a)h
E é,ē,è (a)te, m(ate, s(a)ve
ẹ́,ẹ̄,ẹ̀ cl(e)ar, d(a)re, (a)ir
I í,ī,ì s(e)e, s(e)a, m(e)
O ó,ō,ò c(o)al, s(o)ul, kn(o)w,sl(o)w
ó̩,ọ̄,ọ̀ (o)r, c(o)re,f(o)r, m(o)re
S s (s)nake, (s)cream, (s)crape
(s)he, (s)hort, mu(s)hroom
U ú,ū,ù y(ou), d(u)e, f(e)w
gb gb (b)ring –>imagine you were carrying something heavy and someone steps on your toes just as you were pronouncing the word “bring”🤣🤣😭.
P p(kp) *****–>imagine trying to pronounce a word starting with “pb”. Sorry I tried🤣🤣😭

 

Consonants

There are apparently 18 consonants in the yoruba language.

Letter Tones English Equivalent
B (b)lue,(b)ag
D (d)rug, (d)ie, (d)ame
F (f)ry, (f)ame, (ph)one
G (g)row, (g)ame, (g)rind
GB (b)rought, (b)ring
H (h)e, (h)air, (h)ome
J (j)og, (j)ug, (g)eorge
K (k)ey, (c)are, (c)orn
L (l)ove, (l)ore, a(l)one
M (m)ay, (m)ain
N (n)o, (kn)ow
P ???
R (r)ihanna, (r)ead
S (s)ee, (s)now
(sh)e, (sh)ow
T (t)ruck, mus(t)y
W (w)e, (w)ar
Y (y)our,(y)ield

 

Pure Vowels

There are apparently 9 vowels.

Letter Tones English Equivalent
A  c(a)r, (a)h
E  (a)te, m(ate, s(a)ve
cl(e)ar, d(a)re, (a)ir
I s(e)e, s(e)a, m(e)
O c(o)al, s(o)ul, kn(o)w,sl(o)w
(o)r, c(o)re,f(o)r, m(o)re
U  y(ou), d(u)e, f(e)w

 

Diphthong/Nasal vowels

There are apparently 5 diphthongs. Finding the English equivalents for these vowels was really hard but I tried. So hopefully you give me a pass 🥰.

Letter English Equivalent
AN s(ean) e.g. Video
ẸN fr(ien)d, (en)d
IN (in)
ỌN s(on)g, (um)ph e.g. Video 
UN gloo(m)

 

Hope you enjoyed this very informal post. Please, every suggestion or correction is welcomed and appreciated. Thank you! See you in the next post.

Editor notes

***** : I couldn’t find an equivalent in English.

As I am also a beginner in Yoruba, my sentences will be very short and boring. So please bear with me.

References


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