The Waama Alphabet

In general Waama is written with a single symbol (grapheme) for each distinct sound (phoneme). As an exception, there is a sound which is represented by two letters (kp). This is also included in the alphabet after k.

There are three letters in the Waama orthography which do not exist in French. Each of these letters is included to represent a distinct sound in spoken Waama and to eliminate ambiguities in writing. Thus among the vowels you find ɛ and ɔ which appear after e and o respectively. Among the consonants you find ŋ which appears after n.

This is the alphabetical order used to arrange the Waama words in this dictionary:

a b c d e ɛ f i k kp m n ŋ o ɔ p r s t u w y

In addition there are two diacritics that can modify a letter. The tilde (~) can appear over any vowel and indicates that the vowel is nasalized. The grave accent (`) can appear over the letters a, ɛ, i, n and o. It serves to differentiate certain short words that are only distinguished by tone, for example, ("they") and ba (negation), ò ("he" or "she") and o ("you" singular). In the alphabetical order, a letter without a diacritic occurs before one with a diacritic.

The three following lists demonstrate the alphabetical order presented above applied to certain words in the dictionary:

arima ba dakiku
buuka dakinde
fiibu bakiran dakiri
kuŋumma bebire dakiroofa
kpareebu bɛɛka dakisi
nantu bibima dakiwɛ̃ɛfa
o bobi dakiwɛ̃ɛku
ò kisi wuure
piika buuka ure