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The charts below show the way in which the IPA is used to transcribe the Nguni languages Swazi, Xhosa, and Zulu. For a guide to adding IPA characters to Wikipedia articles, see {{IPA-ss}}, {{IPA-xh}}, {{IPA-zu}} and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Pronunciation § Entering IPA characters.

A superscript X marks a sound or spelling found specifically in Xhosa, and Z specifically in Zulu. Sounds marked * only appear in loanwords.

Consonants Vowels Tones
IPA Orthography English approximation
b bh book
ɓ b bag, but implosive
d d dip
j just
f f find
ɡ g give
ɠ kz good, but implosive
h h have
ɦ hh behind
j y yet
yh No English equivalent
kh can
k back, with glottalization
kxʼ klz, krx No English equivalent
l l like
ɬ hl No English equivalent; Welsh llwyd
ɮ dl No English equivalent; Welsh llwyd, but voiced
m m mode
mh No English equivalent
n n night
nh No English equivalent
ɲ ny canyon
ph pin
p lip, with glottalization
r r right, but trilled
s s see
ʃ sh ship
th tip
t bit, with glottalization
tsʼ ts cats, with glottalization
tʃʼ tsh catch, with glottalization
v v vine
w w wind
wh No English equivalent
x rhx Scottish loch
z z zip
IPA Orthography
ᵏǀ c
ᵏǁ x
ᵏǃ q
ᵏǀʰ ch
ᵏǁʰ xh
ᵏǃʰ qh
ᶢǀʱ gc
ᶢǁʱ gx
ᶢǃʱ gq
ᵑǀ nc
ᵑǁ nx
ᵑǃ nq
ᵑǀʱ ngc
ᵑǁʱ ngx
ᵑǃʱ ngq
IPA Orthography English approximation
a[1] a father
ɛ e bed
e e bay
i i beat
ɔ o off
o o stove
u u boot
ː long vowel
Tone mark Tone Bar
á ˦
à ˨
âː ˥˩
ǎ̤ ˨˦
à̤ ˨
a̤᷈ ː ˨˧˨


  1. ^ /a/ is phonetically realised as an open front unrounded vowel [a] in Swazi, an open central unrounded vowel [ä] in Zulu and an open back unrounded vowel in Xhosa [ɑ].