Pronouncing Vowels

As mentioned earlier, the Yorùbá language is melodic; the video above is about the Yorùbá vowels and how they are pronounced. Yorùbá vowels are divided into oral (non-nasal) and nasal vowels. Do you know how many we have of each in Yorùbá?

There are seven vowel sounds; a, e, ẹ, i, o, ọ, u, two modified vowels; ẹ, a and diphthongs; ai, oi. Diphthongs are the combination of two vowel sounds to form one sound.

Most oral vowels are either high, high-mid, low-mid or low, depicted by the shape of the mouth and location of the tongue during pronunciation. However, a is neutral as in the sound when “ma” is pronounced. See the chart below:

Oral Front Oral Central Oral Back
High i u
High-mid e o
Low-mid
Low
a

 

Listen to this audio on oral vowel a> 

Listen to this audio on oral vowel e> 

Listen to this audio on oral vowel ẹ>

Listen to this audio on oral vowel i>

Listen to this audio on oral vowel o> 

Listen to this audio on oral vowel ọ> 

Listen to this audio on oral vowel u> 

Listen to this audio on oral dipthong ai

Listen to this audio on oral dipthong oi

 

Can you pronounce these words?

Wá    “to come”

Gbé   “to lift”

Jẹ       “to eat”

Rí      “to see”

Jó      “to dance”

Kọ     “to write”

Mu    “to drink”

 

There are 4 to 5 nasal vowels (vowels vary by dialect). These are created by adding an “n” sound to an oral vowel. The nasal vowels include: an, ẹn, in, ọn and un. The an sound is neither high, high-mid, low-mid, or low.

 

Nasal Front Nasal Central Nasal Back
High in un
High-mid
Low-mid ẹn ọn
Low
an

 

Listen to this audio on nasal vowel in> 

Listen to this audio on nasal vowel un> 

Listen to this audio on nasal vowel ẹn> 

Listen to this audio on nasal vowel ọn> 

Listen to this audio on nasal vowel an> 

 

Try to pronounce these words:

Dín             “to reduce”

Fún              “to give”

Gbẹngbẹ     “large/big”

Pọ́n             “to ripen”

Ràn            “to go viral”

 

We shall look at how the diphthongs ai, ei are used and pronounced in the Skype session.

But before then, listen to the following words carefully. Distinguish words with oral and nasal vowels.

Audio 1

Audio 2

Audio 3

Audio 4

Audio 5

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