Lesson 1--Pronounciations


A CD-ROM to help you learn Xhosa is now available at the University of Cape Town's African Language Department for R300 or so.

I will start with the vowels

a-- The doctor asks you to say it when he/she checks your mouth.
i--the English e
o--ore (no accent)
u--Spanish "u"

Here is the rest of the alphabet (will complete as new information gets available) and some extended additions

b--uses lips only. Fold your lips inside your mouth and release while inhaling (we know that somepeople did not inhale). This is the opposite breathing action as in the English "b" but similar mechanism
bh---sounds like the English "b".
c--pronounced by faking to bite the tip of your tongue while making the noise by pushing the middle of your tongue against the inner gums on the upper portions of your mouth and the sudden release will make the sound (one of the harder clicks to copy)
ch--similar to the above in many ways but you breathe out on your release
d--pronounces as is it pronounced in English
dl-- pronounced like the "dl" in Hana Madlikova
dy--push the flexible middle of your tounge against the roof of your mouth while breathing out from your diaphragm or chest
f---pronounces as is it pronounced in English
g--pronounces as is it pronounced in English
gc-- spread your tongue and push its middle part against the base of your teeth and release.
gq-- push tongue against roof of mouth (bulge caused by jaw). Breathing out while simultaneously slighlty rolling your tongue will produce the sound. Tough
h--pronounces as in English
j--pronounces as in English
k--pronounced like the dutch "k" or Afrikaans "k"
kr-- Like the K, but use the back of the tongue and press against the back of the mouth. Should make a scratching sound
n-- pronounced like the "n" in nice
nc-- spread your tongue, with the tip of your tongue between the front teeth and the tongue against the back of the teeth/roof of the mouth. The sound is produced by releasing and dropping the lower jaw slightly.
nd-- pronounced like the "nd" in and or end
ndz--  sounds like a "bee buzzing"
ngc-- Like "nc" but with a little nasal sound
ngq-- Like "nq" but with a  nasal sound affecting it.
ngx-- Like "nx" but as the above.
nk--pronounces as is it pronounced in English
nkc-- much like "nc" but with a nasal stop.
nq-- Sounds very close to "Q" but with the effect of the N
nts-- Sounds like a mosquito
nx-- Sounds more like X, but weakened by the N. The N is not pronounced separately.
nz--pronounced the same way as in English
ph-- pronounced like an English "p"
q-- Push the tongue against the roof base of the teeth (bulge) and form a small cusp and let the lips lose. The sound is made by releasing the tongue and the air trapped between the tongue and roof producing the sound.
qh-- Sounds like a nasal "q" but breathing out.
rh-  sounds like "g" as in "gaan" in Afrikaans or Dutch
s-pronounced the same way as in English
sh-pronounced the same way as in English
th-- sounds like the "t" in English
ths-- pronounced like "ts" in English
tsh-- pronounced like "ch"
tyh-- sounds like the English form of ty
v-pronounces as in English
w---fits with most alphabets in word formations like zw,xw,tw,thw,cw,
x--Slightly cusped tongue pressed entirely agaisnt the roof of the mouth. Sound is made by relaxing the tongue while still pressing against the roof, causing air to develop in the middle of the tongue. The tongue is always touching part of the roof of the mouth.
xh--as above with a slight hiss
y--as in Yellow
z--pronounces as in English

The ones not explained above are not very easy to explain without you hearing the sound 1st. However, the way you breathe could determine the sound you make. Vowels sometimes can change the way the sound is made but only in the way the tongue is shaped, never the mechanics of the sound. As in the English language

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or Click Lesson 2 to move on


1998 Sabelo Ndabazandile, Cape Town, RSA

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