In 1974, the First Seminar of Linguists of Zaire has determined the alphabet as we know it nowadays. Before that, there were as many ways to write Ciluba as there were linguists, even if each system was very similar to the other. Normally, I should use the accents too but that would make it more complicated. Let’s keep it simple for now !!!

Ciluba French English
a (court) dikasa pied foot
aa (long) citaala coq rooster
b lubese hanche hip
c (say “tsh”) cibasu planche board
d dibaka marriage wedding
e (short) cikela poisson fish
ee (long) muteelu chemise shirt
f nkofi cil eyelash
g mufungu muscle muscle
i (short) diyi oeuf egg
ii (long) diitaba croyance belief
j kuja danser to dance
k nkuvu tortue turtle
l lushiku fin end
m mwedi barbe beard
n nkala crabe crab
ng ngonga cloche, sonnette bell
o (short) dikopu tasse cup
oo (long) mukooku mouton sheep
p mupanu pantalon pants
s lusembo grenouille frog
sh kushalala démanger to itch
t twishi microbes germs
u (court) munu doigt finger
uu (long) kutuuta frapper to hit
v mvula pluie rain
w (semi-vowel) mbwa chien dog
y (semi-vowel) kweyela respirer to breathe
z cyanza main hand

Combined vowels don’t exist in Ciluba compared to French “ai” (a + i) or “ou” (o + u). Thus, you pronounce each letter as you read and see it. No tricks! Also, q, r and x are only used when using words borrowed from other languages. Ciluba also includes some sounds specific to the language such as nasalizations and aspired letters. We’ll check those out as we go.

One thought on “[Bwakulu] Alphabet – 17 consonants – 10 vowels & 2 semi-vowels

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