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Ngabere Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Ngabere alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the Ngabere orthography we have used on our site, as well as some alternate spellings that you may find in other books and websites.

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Ngabere Vowels

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Ngabere pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
ä  a   Like the au in caught.
e    e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in gate.
ë    I Like the i in bit.
i    i Like the i in police.
o    o Like the o in note.
ö     Like the oo in book.
u    u Like the u in flute.
ü    u Like the u in flute, only pronounced further to the front of the mouth. The Ngabere pronuncation resembles the u sounds in languages like Norwegian and Swedish.

Ngabere Nasal Vowels

Nasal vowels don't exist in English, but you may be familiar with them from French (or from hearing people speak English with a French accent.) They are pronounced just like oral ("regular") vowels, only using your nose as well as your mouth. To English speakers, a nasal vowel often sounds like a vowel with a half-pronounced "n" at the end of it. You can hear examples of nasal vowels at the end of the French words "bon" and "Jean," or in the middle of the word "Français."

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
ã   ã
ĩ   ĩ
õ   õ
ũ   ũ

Ngabere Consonants

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Ngabere pronunciation:
b    b Like b in boy.
ch  č  t Like ch in chair.
d    d Like the d in day.
h  j  h Like h in hay.
g    g Like the g in girl.
k  c, qu  k Like the k in kiss.
l    l Like l in light.
ll  j, y  d Like j in jar.
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
ng    ŋ Like the ng in sing.
ñ    ñ Like ny in canyon.
r     Like the r in Spanish pero, somewhat like the tt in American English butter.
s    s Like s in sun.
t    t Like the t in tell.
w  hu  w Like w in way.
y    j Like y in yes.

Ngabere Tones

Ngabere is a tone language. Some syllables are pronounced with higher pitch than others. In English, the last syllable of a question is pronounced with high pitch, so you can hear the difference between sentences like "You see a man." and "You see a man?" In Ngabere pronunciation, such high and low tones are used in nearly every word, giving the language a lively sound.

There are two tones in Ngabere, high tone and low tone. High tones are marked with an acute accent in the Ngabere alphabet, like this:

a low tone
á high tone

Ngabere/Guaymi Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Ngabere words
   Macro-Chibchan languages

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