Hausa Alphabet

Hausa has 23 to 25 consonant sounds, depending on the speaker. The Hausa alphabet consists of 29 letters, as shown below:

In the standard Romanized Hausa writing system, there are just five alphabetic symbols representing vowels:
a, e, i, o, u.

However, in pronunciation, each of these symbols can represent either the short or the long variant of that vowel. That is, it makes a difference in Hausa whether one pronounces a vowel as relatively long or short. The difference in pronuciation between long and short vowels at the ends of words is rather subtle.

Short vowels at the end of a word are abruptly cut off by a glottal stop.
Long vowels at the end of a word are NOT abruptly cut off.

(NOTE: Hausa is the only native language of Nigeria represented on Nigerian currency. Nigerian bank notes have their values written in Hausa, using ajami)

20 Naira
 ‘glottal stop
 ashort: ‘a’ in calm
long: ‘a’ in father
 b‘b in bed
 hausa b representing an implosive “b”
 c‘ch’ in child
 d‘d’ in dog
 hausa d representing an implosive “d”
 eshort: ‘e’ in get
long: English letter ‘e’
 f‘f’ in fat
 g‘g’ in go
 h‘h’ in hat
 ishort: ‘i’ in hit
long: English letter ‘e’
 j‘j’ in joke
 k‘k’ in kill
 hausa k representing an ejective “k”
 l‘l’ in leg
 m‘m’ in man
 n‘n’ in not
 oshort: ‘o’ in hot
long: English letter ‘o’
 reither ‘flapped’ as in Scots English
 r tilde‘flapped’ or ‘trilled’ as in Scots English
 s‘s’ in see
 sh‘sh’ in shout
 t‘t’ in ten
 ts English word ‘tutor’
 ushort: ‘u’ in put
long: ‘oo’ in ‘book’
 w‘w’ in win
 y‘y’ in you
 ‘y English words ‘yeah yeah’
 z‘z’ in zone

The Two “r’s” of Hausa

Hausa has two “r” sounds:

1. A “tapped r” or “trilled r” which resembles the “r” sounds of Spanish, Arabic, and many other languages of the world. This sound is produced by tapping or trilling the tongue against the ridge just behind the upper teeth.

2. The other r is called a “retroflex flap”. This is similar to the r of Japanese, which is “l-like”. It is produced by curling the tongue back, then flipping it forward across the ridge behind the upper teeth

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