Monthly Archives: December 2015

Uda ume : Igbo vowels

I’ve just started teaching my kid the rules of Igbo grammar and I thought I should share one of his first lessons with you.

Below are the Igbo vowels with pronunciations:

a – (pron. Ah) Example: ‘Aka’ (Ah-kah). Hand.

e – (pron. Eh) Example: ‘Egbe’. Gun*

i -(pron. Eee) Example: ‘Ite’ (It-ae). Pot.

ị – (with a dot underneath the ‘i’)  – Same as the sound at the beginning of ‘inch’. Example: ‘Isha’. Crayfish.

o – Same as sound at the beginning of ‘own’ but without saying the ‘w’ sound. (i.e. not ‘ou’). Example: ‘Obi’. Heart.

ọ –  (With a dot underneath) – Same as sound at the beginning of ‘On’. Example: ‘Ọka’. Corn.

u- (pron. ‘Oo’) Example: Uwe. Dress.

ụ – Example: ‘Ụka’. Church.


Let us review:


*Egbe contains an ‘uda mkpi’ which is two sounds pronounced together. Perhaps the closest approximation would be a diphtong. More on this later.

It irks me when people misspell things in Igbo, especially if they’re people I have grown up with in back east because WHAT WERE YOU DOING DURING (COMPULSORY) IGBO LESSONS? Okay, fine I was playing too, but I’ve since rectified this.

(If you grew up outside Naija and did not learn Igbo, my ire does not extend to you.)

With regards to the above rant, the vowel ‘ị’ is also the vowel used to refer to ‘you’. Example: ‘You are looking for trouble’ would be:

“ị n’acho m okwu” and NOT: “E n’acho m okwu”.

Homework: Think of other igbo words that contain these vowels. Write them down with the correct letters.

Ka ọ dị ụbọchi ọzọ. Till next time.