The Yaka alphabet consists of (31) letters :

Five (5) vowels :                          a  e  i  o  u

Sixteen (16) simple consonants :   b  d  f  h  k  l  m  n  p  r  s  t  v  w  y  z

and nine (9) digraph consonants :  dz  mb  mv  nd  ng  nh  ny  nz  pf  ts


The headwords are presented in alphabetical order in this dictionary, according to the initial letter (not treating the digraphs as separate letters of the alphabet). Below is the alphabet order being used for this dictionary:

a  b  d  f  h  i  k  l  m  n  p  s  t  v  w  y  z


Alphabet chart

(The phonetic transcription is shown in brackets.)

Letter Phonetic pronunciation Example Meaning
A [ɑ] wa neuf
b B [b] baana enfants
d D [d] uduku suivre
dz Dz [dz] lidzoo vantardise
e E [ɛ] utete taper
f F [f] ufulu souffler
h H [ɣ] uholo prendre
i I [i] itali métal
k K [k] kaari singe
l L [l] lari folie
m M [m] miili pieds
mb Mb [mb] mbaa feu
mv Mv [mbv] mvulu pluie
n N [n] naanga cheveux
nd Nd [nd] nduu ami
ng Ng [ŋg] nguu mère
nh Nh [ŋ] nhanyi aigre
ny Ny [ɲ] nyanga soleil
nz Nz [ndz] nzo maison
o O [ɔ] ndo sorcellerie
p P [p] pibi hache
pf Pf [pf] pfumu chef
r R [ɾ] mbeeri couteau
s S [s] isala travail
t T [t] taari serpent
ts Ts [ts] tsiee champ
u U [u] ibu écorce
v V [v] uvulu dépasser
w W [w] wa neuf (9)
y Y [j] yimi grossesse
z Z [z] buzitu gloire

All long vowels are written with double letters. For example:

bwaari  lèpre     miili     pieds       koo   main   

nguu     mère     beene sein


The letter w often functions like a semi-vowel in Yaka: that is, it is pronounced as a u between a consonant and a vowel, but it is not syllabic like the u. For example:

makweele       mariage           bubwe        bien, bon bon    mutswe           tête


Even though the linguists recommend using the semi-vowels w and y before another vowel, Yaka speakers prefer using i rather than y. In Yaka, this results in y being considered a separate consonant except with the digraph ny. For example:

nziali   rivière    tsiee   champ            matsieende épines