This table illustrates the letter-to-sound correspondence used in this dictionary.


Letter IPA symbol Articulatory Description Examples
' ʔ Voiceless glottal stop kuzi'ira, da'asi
a a Low central vowel askari, amani
aa long low central vowel maaskari, haa
b ɓ Voiced bilabial implosive bosi, baba
bh b Voiced (mildly aspirated) bilabial stop, in borrowings bhosi, bhara
ch Voiceless palatal affricate chitu, wachafu
d ɗ Voiced alveolar implosive udala, dafu
dh Voiced (mildly aspirated) dental stop, in borrowings udhale, dhafu
dy ɟ Voiced palatal stop kudya, dyero
e ɛ and e Mid front unrounded vowel kusera, enga
ee ɛː and eː Long mid front unrounded vowel kuseera, lwee
f f Voiceless labiodental fricative faya, kufafana
g ɠ Voiced velar implosive gane, ngaga
gh g Voiced (mildly aspirated) velar stop, in borrowings Ghana, kughefa
h h Voiceless glottal fricative kuhalawa, hala
i i or ɪ High front unrounded vowel kwira, miti
ii iː or ɪː Long high front unrounded vowel kwiira, usanii
j Voiced palatal affricate huja, jai
k k Voiceless velar stop mkulu, koko
nkh ŋ̊kʰ Voiceless prenasalized velar stop (highly aspirated) nkhunde, kankha
l l Voiced lateral liquid lalahi, kulumba
m m Voiced bilabial nasal; may be syllabic before consonant mallahi, amani
n n Voiced alveolar or velar nasal; may be syllabic before consonant nusu, kugona
ny ɲ Voiced palatal nasal nyumba, munyu
o o or ɔ Mid back rounded vowel nogera, ongeza
oo oː or ɔː Long mid back rounded vowel noogone, doo
p p Voiceless bilabial stop pala, kupata
mph m̥pʰ Voiceless prenasalized bilabial stop (highly aspirated) mphalala, bamphamu
q ɣ Voiced velar fricative, in borrowings joqi, jeqi
r ɾ or r Voiced alveolar tap or trill mere, raha
rh ɾʰ or rʰ Voiced aspirated alveolar tap or trill rheri, kurheba
s Voiceless dental or alveolar fricative sidhi, usazi
sh ʃ Voiceless post-alveolar shida, mkamashi
t Voiceless dental stop tali, tate
th ð Voiced interdental fricative, in borrowings talatha, thaifu
ntr n̥tʰ Voiceless prenasalized dental stop (highly aspirated) ntrembo, kuntru
u u High back rounded vowel kunda, uta
uu Long high back rounded vowel kuunda, muungano
v v Voiced labiodental fricative vitu, kuvuma
w w Voiced labiovelar semivowel or glide wowo, kuwamba
x x Voiceless velar fricative, in borrowings xamisi, kuxwina
y j Voiced palatal semivowel or glide yeye, tayari
z Voiced dental fricative zuwa, mazoya