Zulu/Appendix B

PronunciationEdit

VowelsEdit

Letter IPA Example (IPA) Example (Written) Meaning Notes
i i 'siːza -siza "help" Pronounced somewhat like ease in English.
u u u'muːzi umuzi "village" Somewhat like English vowel in the word pool.
e e umgiˈɓeːli umgibeli "passenger" Somewhat like bed in English.
ɛ ibʰubɛːsi ibhubesi "lion" Pronounced somewhat like bay in English.
o ɔ ɔˈgɔːgo ogogo "grandmothers" Somewhat like law in English.
o umgoːdi umgodi "hole" Pronounced somewhat like boat in English.
a a idaːda idada "duck" Pronounced somewhat like ark in English.

Note the table contains diphthongs and lengthened vowels.

Semi-vowelsEdit

Letter IPA Example (IPA) Example (Written) Meaning Notes
y j ujiːse uyise "his/her/their father" Pronounced as in yes in English.
w w iːwele iwele "wall" Pronounced as in wall in English.

ConsonantsEdit

Letter IPA Example (IPA) Example (Written) Meaning Notes
m m ujiːse umama "my/our mother" Pronounced as in English.
n n uniːna unina "his/her/their mother" Pronounced as in no in English.
ny ɲ iːɲɔːni inyoni "bird" Pronounced as in vignette.
ng ŋ iːŋɔane ingane "child" Pronounced as in finger.
p p iːpiːpi ipipi "pipe for smoking" This consonant is pronounced somewhat as in speech.
ph pʰɛːɠa -pheka "cook" Pronounced as in pin never as in phone
t t iːtiːje itiye "tea" Pronounced somewhat as in English.
th tʰaːtʰa -thatha "take" Pronounced somewhat as in English but more fully aspirated i.e. with more air escaping from the mouth.
k k umakɔːti umakoti "bride" Pronounced somewhat as in English.
ɠ uɠuza ukuza "to come" Pronounced somewhere between k and g in English.
kh iːkʰaːnda ikhanda "head" Pronounced somewhat like c in cat but more aspirated.
g g ugɔgɔ ugogo "granny" Pronounced somewhat like in go never as in gem.
b ɓ ubaːba ubaba "my/our father" Pronounced with implosion; the movement of the muscles approaches more or less that when smoking a pipe.
bh b bala -bhala "write" Pronounced more or less as in English bed.
d d iːdaːda idada "duck" Pronounced more or less as in English duck.
f f iːfu ifu "cloud" Pronounced more or less as in English fun.
v v vaːla -vala "close" Pronounced as in English van.
s s iːsiːsu isisu "stomach" Pronounced as in English say.
sh ʃ iːʃuːmi ishumi' "ten" Pronounced as in English shall.
h h haːmba -hamba' "go" Pronounced as in English hand.
ɦ iːɦaːʃi ihashi' "horse" Pronounced as in English behind.
l l lala -lala' "sleep" Pronounced as in English laugh.
hl ɬ ɬaːla -hlala' "sit" Pronounced as in Welsh Llanelli. An approximation is pronouncing l and h simultaneously.
dl ɮ ɮaːla -dla' "eat" This consonant is voiced form of hl. This means the vocal cords are vibrating during articulation.
tsh utʃaːni utshani' "grass" Pronounced as the English chin.
j ʤ uʤu uju' "honey" This consonant is pronounced as the English jump.
kl kɬ' (*) kɬ'aːja -klaya' "split" To produced this sound:
  1. Raise the back of the tongue against the soft palate.
  2. Keep the front part of the tongue down behind the lower teeth.
  3. Force air through the closure caused by raising the back of the tongue against the soft palate.

(*) IPA transcription by G. Poulos & C.T. Msimang. A linguistic aalysis of Zulu. Cape Town: Via Afrika, 1998.

ClicksEdit

Letter IPA Example (IPA) Example (Written) Meaning Notes
c ǀ ǀela -cela request To produced this sound:
  1. Place the tip of the tongue against the upper front teeth and gum.
  2. Depress the centre of the tongue.
  3. Release the tip of the tongue drawing it slightly backwards.
q ǃ ǃala -qala request To produced this sound:
  1. Press the upper part of the tongue-tip against the part between the teeth ridge and the hard palate.
  2. Raise the back of the tongue so that it touches the soft palate.
  3. Depress the centre of the tongue.
  4. Release sharply downwards the tip of the tongue.
x ǁ ǁɔːǁɔː -xoxo chat, converse To produced this sound:
  1. Place the upper part of the tongue-tip against the part between the teeth ridge and the hard palate.
  2. Raise the back of the tongue towards the soft palate.
  3. Withdraw one side of the tongue from the upper teeth.

Note: c is often described as the sound in tut-tut while x is the sound used for encouraging horses.

The click sounds can be aspirated, nasalised, voiced or voiced and nasalised together. This is shown in the below table.

Aspirated Nasalised Voiced Voiced and Nasalised
ch nc gc ngc
qh nq gq ngq
xh nx gx ngx
Last modified on 22 November 2008, at 06:41