Help:IPA/Swahili

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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Swahili language pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. This reflects Standard Swahili, and dialects may have more or fewer phonemes. For a guide to adding IPA characters to Wikipedia articles, see {{IPA-sw}} and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Pronunciation § Entering IPA characters.

Consonants
IPA Examples English approximation
ɓ baba [ˈɓɑɓɑ] 'father' bill
ɗ dola [ˈɗɔlɑ] 'dollar' delta
ð dhambi [ˈðɑᵐbi] 'sin, offence'[1] that
ʄ ~ maji [ˈmɑʄi ~ ˈmɑdʒi] 'water' jab
f fisi [ˈfisi] 'hyena' focus
ɠ gani [ˈɠɑni] 'what, of which' gag
ɣ ghali [ˈɣɑli] 'expensive'[1] Scottish loch but voiced
h uhuru [uˈhuru] 'freedom' ahead
j yeye [ˈjɛjɛ] 'he/she' yellow
k kitabu [kiˈtɑbu] 'book' scald
l lakini [lɑˈkini] 'but'[2] lack
m damu [ˈɗɑmu] 'blood' mocha
mtoto [m̩ˈtɔtɔ] 'child' rhythm
ᵐb mbali [ˈᵐbɑli] 'far' clamber
ᶬv mvinyo [ˈᶬviɲɔ] 'spirits' Humvee
n nini [ˈnini] 'what' ninny
nchi [ˈn̩tʃi] 'country' even (syllabic nasal)
ⁿd muhindi [muˈhiⁿdi] 'corn, maize' handy
ᵑɡ ngoma [ˈᵑɡɔmɑ] 'drum' finger
ⁿdʒ injili [iˈⁿdʒili] 'gospel' range
ⁿz kwanza [ˈkwɑⁿzɑ] 'to begin' pansy
ɲ nyoka [ˈɲɔkɑ] 'snake' canyon
ŋ ng'ombe [ˈŋɔᵐbɛ] 'cow, ox' sing
p kikapu [kiˈkɑpu] 'basket' spill
r rafiki [rɑˈfiki] 'friend'[2] N. Am. and Australian better, Scots three
s sisi [ˈsisi] 'we' stole
ʃ shamba [ˈʃɑᵐbɑ] 'farm, field' shell
t moto [ˈmɔtɔ] 'fire' stand
chumba [ˈtʃuᵐbɑ] 'room' chase
θ thelathini [θɛlɑˈθini] 'thirty'[1] think
v vitabu [viˈtɑbu] 'books' vittle
w watu [ˈwɑtu] 'people' with
x subulkheri [suɓulˈxɛri] 'good morning'[1] Scottish loch
z maziwa [mɑˈziwɑ] 'milk' zoo
Vowels
IPA Examples English approximation
ɑ baba sw 'father' father
ɛ ndege sw 'bird' let
i Kiswahili sw 'Swahili (language)' meat
ɔ mtoto sw 'child' off
u uhuru sw 'freedom' fool
ː kondoo sw 'sheep' vowel length
Suprasegmentals
IPA Examples Explanation
ˈ safari [sɑˈfɑri] 'journey' stress[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Only found in loanwords.
  2. ^ a b Swahili /r/ is either a short trill [r] or more commonly a flap [ɾ] in many areas. The distinction between /l/ and /r/ is a recent one, and many speakers have only a single sound, often an alveolar lateral flap [ɺ]
  3. ^ Stress usually falls on the penultimate syllable of a word.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Contini-Morava, Ellen (1997), "Swahili phonology", in Kaye, Allen (ed.), Phonologies of Asia and Africa, 1, Eisenbrauns, pp. 841–860
  • Mohammed, Mohammed Abdullah (2001), Modern Swahili Grammar, Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers Ltd., ISBN 9966-46-761-0