Lojban/Sounds and alphabet

Lojban has a 24-letter alphabet (23 of which come from the Roman alphabet):

' a b c d e f g i j k l m n o p r s t u v x y z

And two special symbols:

, .

This includes most of the traditional English alphabet except for three letters:

h q w

Lojban has a phonetic spelling and audio-visual isomorphism, meaning that each letter has exactly one sound and each sound has exactly one letter.

Letter SAMPA IPA Description
' [h] Unvoiced glottal spirant, as in hat
, --- Syllable separator
. [/] Glottal stop or a pause, as in 'uh oh'
a [a], [A] Open vowel, as in father, NOT as in hat
b [b] Voiced bilabial stop, as in bagel
c [S], [s`] Unvoiced coronal sibilant, as in shark
d [d] Voiced dental/alveolar stop, as in desk
e [E], [e] Front mid vowel, as in bet, NOT as in beep
f [f], [p\] Unvoiced labial fricative, as in fat
g [g] Voiced velar stop, as in great, NOT as in George
i [i] Front close vowel, as in machine, NOT as in igloo
j [Z], [z`] Voiced coronal sibilant, as in measure, NOT as in justice
k [k] Unvoiced velar stop, as in kill
l [l], [l=] Voiced lateral approximant (may be syllabic), as in lake
m [m], [m=] Voiced bilabial nasal (may be syllabic), as in maybe
n [n], [n=], [N], [N=] Voiced dental or velar nasal (may be syllabic), as in neck
o [o], [O] Back mid vowel, as in open, NOT as in opera
p [p] Unvoiced bilabial stop, as in pepper
r [r], [4], [r\], [R\], [r=], [4=], [r\=], [R\=] Rhotic sound, as in river
s [s] Unvoiced alveolar sibilant, as in snake
t [t] Unvoiced dental/alveolar stop, as in tarp
u [u] Back close vowel, as in moon, NOT as in cup
v [v], [B] Voiced labial fricative, as in vast
x [x] Unvoiced velar fricative, as in German Bach and Spanish Jose and Arabic Khaled, NOT as in bake and box
y [@] Central mid vowel, schwa, as in syringe, cut, supply, NOT as in yellow
z [z] Voiced alveolar sibilant, as in ooze

' only appears in Lojban words between vowels. "," only appears in Lojban names. Lojbanists can optionally not include the "." in their writing. The stress is on a word's penultimate syllable. The exception is that a syllable whose nucleus is a 'y' cannot be stressed; in that case, stress the syllable immediately preceding it. Names may indicate different from penultimate stress by capitalizing the entire stressed syllable or the vowel of the stressed syllable. Some Lojbanists have unofficially proposed other characters to mark stress like "^".

Lojban has eleven diphthongs written by composed vowels. The following transliterations are assuming that the reader has an American English accent.

ai As in high
au As in how
ei As in hey
oi As in boy
ia As in yacht
ie As in yes
ii As in year and ye
io As in yogurt
iu Like you
ua As in waah! and French quoi
ue As in question
uo As in quote
ui Like we and French oui
uu As in womb

A pair of adjacent vowels which are capable of forming a diphthong will form a diphthong unless a comma is placed between them. That is the purpose of the comma in Lojban; to act as a separator between syllables whenever necessary for pronunciation purposes. (It is not for pausing between words or phrases like in English.)

To make pronouncing some words easier, you may put unwritten buffer vowels in your speech between consonants. Any non-Lojban vowel can act as a buffer vowel, but i as in hit has the most popularity. For example, you could pronounce (but not write) a buffer vowel between the "s" and "f" of "sfani".




Pronounce the word given below.
  1. .i
  2. .a
  3. .e
  4. .a
  5. .o
  6. .u
  7. .e'i
  8. lu'a
  9. se'inai
  10. gu'onai
  11. diklo
  12. tumla
  13. tunlo
  14. stasu
  15. kabri
  16. vitke
  17. pandi
  18. ransu
  19. tercakyjme
  20. backemselrerkru
  21. seljinru
  22. penydjuxa'a
  23. vokygenkantu
  24. xagmaubi'o
  25. xacysantyse'u
  26. finprxipoglosu
  27. smacrkobaiu
  28. samcrkasava


Write down each Lojbanized name, stressing the first syllable. Pronounce the name with the original and initial (afterwards) stress.
  1. la geibri,el.
  2. la keitlen.
  3. la rabert.
  4. la xeilis.
  5. la no,as.
  6. la destenis.
  7. la keileb.
  8. la tamas.
  9. la kateren.
  10. la djorden.
  11. la necol.
  12. la xanter.
  13. la .alecsendras.
  14. la kameren.
  15. la mari,as.
  16. la kail.
  17. la savenas.


Answer each question completely.
  1. How many letters does Lojban's alphabet have, not including special symbols?
  2. How many symbols does Lojban's alphabet have, including special symbols?
  3. Which three letters of the English alphabet does the Lojban alphabet not have?
  4. Where do apostrophes (') appear in Lojban text?
  5. Which of the following are correct Lojban diphthongs: uo, oa, ii, io, oi, ee, ea, ui
  6. What does "buffer vowel" mean?

True or False

Answer 'true' or 'false'.
  1. Each Lojban letter corresponds to exactly one sound.
  2. The period (.) is a required part of the Lojban orthography.
  3. Lojban names have antepenultimate stress by default.

Answers to exercises



No recording of pronunciation available.


  1. la GEIBri,el.
  2. la KEITlen
  3. la RABert.
  4. la XEILis
  5. la NO,as.
  6. la DESTenis.
  7. la KEILeb.
  8. la TAMas
  9. la KATeren.
  10. la DJORden.
  11. la NECol.
  12. la XANter.
  13. la .ALecendras.
  14. la KAMeren.
  15. la MARi,as.
  16. la kail. (No capitalization needed with only one syllable.)
  17. la SAVenas.


  1. Twenty-four (24) letters.
  2. Twenty-six (26) symbols.
  3. h, q, and w.
  4. Apostrophes (') only appear in Lojban words between vowels.
  5. uo, ii, io, oi, and ui.
  6. "Buffer vowel" means unwritten, spoken vowel in a consonant cluster to aid pronunciation.

True or False

  1. True
  2. False
  3. False