Kapampangan/Pronouncing Kapampangan

Part A: Pronouncing Kapampangan words in this bookEdit

This first lesson is essential for you to be able to pronounce the words that we have printed in this book. Here we will learn a few basic words, and how to pronounce them.


Most consonants are pronounced like in English. But a few have a specific behaviour:

  • r is rolled and pronounced in the same manner as the Spanish, Italian and Russian pronounce it, but not like in English nor like in French.
  • dy is pronounced like in English Jack
  • sy is pronounced like in English shine
  • ts is pronounced ts, like in English tsar, but sometimes drifts into a pronunciation that sounds more like tch like in English cheer. You will be understood however, if you always pronounce ts.
  • ng is pronounced like in the English word sing. But beware, this sound can appear at the beginning of a word, not only the middle or the end.
  • The glottal stop, that we indicate with an apostrophe ' is pronounced in the same way as the t is pronounced in Estuary English in words like bottom (bo'om), Britain (bri'ain} or that (tha'). However a glottal stop that occurs at the end of a word is often omitted when it's in the middle of a sentence.


There are 5 vowels:

  • a similar to English father
  • i similar to English machine, but shorter like bit when not stressed.
  • u similar to English loop but shorter like book when not stressed.
  • e similar to English bed
  • o somewhere between English forty and English dog

When they are not stressed, i and e are nearly interchangeable: there are many words that can be pronounced and written using either of the two vowels, for example, king can be pronounced and written keng, íni can become íne. Also o and u are frequently interchangeable if unstressed: nukarín can be pronounced and written nokarín, kumustá can be pronounced and written komustá, etc. Although we try to use a consistent spelling in this book, there is currently no consensus on the spelling for unstressed vowels and it may be that this book sometimes contains both possible spellings.

Before the arrival of the Spanish, Kapampangan had three vowel sounds: /a/, /i/, and /u/; This was expanded to five vowels with the introduction of Spanish words.


Each word with more than one syllable is stressed in a specific way: the stress either falls on the last syllable, or on the penultimate syllable. If it is on the penultimate syllable, it is accompanied by a lengthening of the stressed vowel. We indicate the stress in this book with the following sign above the vowel of the stressed syllable: ’ Please note that the stress is usually not written in texts or websites, however, we indicate it in every word, since this is the only way that you can learn to pronounce each word correctly.

Part B: ApplicationEdit

Here is an example for each of these specific sounds in a simple word. Note the stress location.

Kapampangan word Translation Hear it English-like pronunciation IPA pronunciation Comment
reló wristwatch   Listen rrEh-loh [rɛ:'lo] Remember to roll the r-s as in Spanish
dyip Eng. jeep   Listen jip [dʒip] Same as English Jack
syémpre of course   Listen shEh-m-prreh ['ʃɛ:mprɛ] Same as English shame
tsa tea   Listen ts-ah or tch-ah [tsa] or [tʃa] Same as English tsar or drifting to chat
ngan everyone   Listen ng-an [ŋan] Same as English singing
yátu' world   Listen yAh-tu + end of word t in Estuary English ['ja:tuʔ] Glottal stop: Remember to stop abruptly at the end of the word.
óbra Span. work, job   Listen O-brrah ['o:bra] The o is somewhere between dog and forty
uktúbri Span. October   Listen uk-tU-brri [uk'tu:bri] The second u is like loop

You can click on the sound file to here a native speaker pronounce the word. You can note that there is no stress indicated for ngan, tsa and dyip. This is because there is only one syllable (vowel) and therefore there is no need to indicate it.

You can now even answer when asked what you would like for a drink:
- syémpre, tsa! Tea, of course!

Part C: ExercisesEdit

Given the rules described above, pronounce the following words:

ngéni now
yélu ice
syam nine
réni these
dyéli jelly
tsinélas slippers


Part D: SummaryEdit

In this lesson you have learned how to pronounce each vowel and consonant of the Kapampangan language. You have a also learned the following words:

ngéni now dyip jeep
yélu ice syémpre of course
syam nine tsa tea
réni these ngan everyone
dyéli jelly yátu' world
tsinélas slippers óbra work
reló wristwatch uktúbre October

Try to remember these words, they will be useful later for constructing sentences.

Part E: IPA sound chartsEdit

Consonant chartEdit

When the written convention is different from the IPA, the IPA version is indicated between square brackets.

Bilabial Dental /
Palatal Velar Glottal
Stops Voiceless p t k ' [ʔ]
Voiced b d g
Affricates Voiceless ts [ts]
drifts into [tʃ]
Voiced dy [dʒ]
Fricatives s sy [ʃ]
Nasals m n ng [ŋ]
Laterals l
Flaps r
Semivowels w y [j]

Note that all the stops are unaspirated.

Vowels chartEdit

In writing pronounced
if stressed
and not final
a a: a open front unrounded
e ɛ: ɛ open mid-front unrounded
i i: ɪ close front unrounded
o o: o close-mid back rounded
u u: ʊ close back unrounded

There are two diphthongs; /oɪ/, and /iʊ/, which we simply write oi and iu.

Continue to Greeting