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)
|LETTER||SOUNDS LIKE (IN ENGLISH)|
|a||short: ‘a’ in calm|
long: ‘a’ in father
|b||‘b in bed|
|representing an implosive “b”|
|c||‘ch’ in child|
|d||‘d’ in dog|
|representing an implosive “d”|
|e||short: ‘e’ in get|
long: English letter ‘e’
|f||‘f’ in fat|
|g||‘g’ in go|
|h||‘h’ in hat|
|i||short: ‘i’ in hit|
long: English letter ‘e’
|j||‘j’ in joke|
|k||‘k’ in kill|
|representing an ejective “k”|
|l||‘l’ in leg|
|m||‘m’ in man|
|n||‘n’ in not|
|o||short: ‘o’ in hot|
long: English letter ‘o’
|r||either ‘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’|
|u||short: ‘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
Hausa Alphabet FAQs:
- How many letters are there in the Hausa alphabet?
- The Hausa alphabet consists of 29 letters, including 26 basic Latin letters and three additional letters specific to the Hausa language.
- What are the additional letters in the Hausa alphabet?
- The additional letters in the Hausa alphabet are Ɓ (B with a dot below), Ɗ (D with a dot below), Ƙ (K with a hook), Ɲ (N with a tilde), Ƴ (Y with a hook), and Ɛ (Epsilon).
- How do you pronounce the letter Ɛ in Hausa?
- The letter Ɛ in Hausa is pronounced like the English letter “E,” as in “bed.”
- What is the significance of the additional letters in Hausa?
- The additional letters represent specific sounds in the Hausa language that are not present in the standard English alphabet. They help accurately represent Hausa phonetics.
Hausa Language FAQs:
- Where is the Hausa language spoken?
- The Hausa language is primarily spoken in West Africa, particularly in countries like Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Cameroon, and Chad. It is one of the most widely spoken languages in the region.
- Is Hausa a tonal language?
- Yes, Hausa is a tonal language, meaning that the pitch or tone of a word can change its meaning. There are three primary tones in Hausa: high, mid, and low.
- How can I learn to speak and write in Hausa?
- Learning Hausa can be accomplished through language courses, online resources, language textbooks, and working with native speakers or language tutors. It’s essential to practice both speaking and writing.
- What are some common phrases in Hausa?
- Common Hausa phrases include greetings like “Sannu” (Hello), “Barka” (Good morning/afternoon/evening), and “Ina kwana?” (How are you?). Learning these basic phrases is a good start for beginners.
- Is Hausa a difficult language to learn?
- The difficulty of learning Hausa depends on your language background and previous experience with tonal languages. Like learning any language, it requires time, practice, and dedication.