The following is a summary of the orthography guide of Kemedzung (Cox, B. 2005. Kemezung orthography guide. Yaoundé: SIL), with the addition of the minor phoneme /p/.
The Kemedzung alphabet is made up of 23 consonants and 9 vowels. They are represented in upper and lower cases:
A a, B b, Ch ch, D d, Dz dz, E e, Ə ə, Ɛ ɛ, F f, G g, Gb gb, H h, I I, Ɨ ɨ, J j, K k, Kp kp, L l, M m, N n, Ŋ ŋ, Ny, ny, O o, Ɔ ɔ, P p, S s, Sh sh, T t, Ts ts, U u, W w, Y y
|A||a||achu||leaves for eating|
|Ə||ə||əbɔɔ bo||bird of prey|
|U||u||uuhuhu||sound made by a horse|
There are several combinations of consonants.
The first consonant is a nasal (m, n, ŋ): Most consonants, with the exception of h, can follow a nasal. This can occur at the beginning and in the middle of a word.
The second consonant is the sound j: Most of the times this is written as i. The first consonant is normally an: b, d, gb, k, kp, t, f, l, m or n. This can occur at the beginning and in the middle of a word.
biansɨ large rock
The second consonant is the sound w: The w can follow an: b, g, k, kp, f or m. This can occur at the beginning and in the middle of a word.
There are rules on which consonants can occur in which positions and which ones can be written together:
me sleep mme sleeping nya give nnya I give
There are both short and long vowels. The long vowels are written as a sequence of two vowels. They don’t occur often. Examples of the long vowels and the contrasting short vowels are shown below.
mfiiŋ round mfiŋ magic
kɨyee slow ye snake
boo white bo kind of bird
mbɛɛ address to the fon kambɛ snail
təə full tə loincloth
diəəŋ correct bidiəŋ food
gɔɔ red gɔ worms
It is also possible to have a sequence of three vowels, used for ideophones:
If there is a sequence of two or more different vowels, the first vowel is always i. This i goes together with the consonant before it and sounds like j. An i followed by another vowel can occur in the middle and at the end of a word:
There are some rules on which vowels can occur in which positions.
Tone on individual words is normally not written. Except for some nouns that make the difference between singular and plural with different tone. In that case the plural is written with a relative high tone mark on the first vowel:
biosu a fish
bíosu many fish
bənaŋ cows (bə is noun class 2, naŋ is cow)
bəchi all (bə is noun class 2, chi is all)
wɛŋ wu shə child of fowl (chick)
chɛ ku father compound (compound head)
dalɨ cooking (da is cook, lɨ is indicating it is ongoing)
bənɨ bə bitsa lə
people of belt COMPL (army)
finyinyi fi naŋ’ə
bird of cow COMPL (oxpecker)
To distinguish some minimal tone pairs, words with the same sounds but different tone, certain words are spelled in a different way to avoid confusion:
bɔ́ up bɔ them
bɛŋŋ my bəŋ this
nɨŋ work nɨŋŋ refuse
diɔ sun diɔ́ day
llə cross lə that
kkə know kə beat