Letters of the Bemba language


A little background to this, I feel this is more in line with what Blessings on a hill is all about and I decided that I would do a short lesson on the sounds and the letters that represent them. I am Bemba and Nsenga because my my mum is a Bemba woman and my dad is Nsenga but I am more accustomed to my Bemba roots and constantly learning on both fronts.

So the letters present are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, S T, U, W and Y. We do not have J, Q, R, X and Z. To get the best understanding of what the sounds are like, please view the video below.

A makes the same sound as in Apple

B has a special sound usually mistaken for the V or W sound. Most non-Bemba speakers struggle with this. B is only a hard “b” as in Baby when preceded by the letter “M”

C makes a “ch” sound all the time. It never makes a “k” sound ever! The intonation changes if accompanied by the letter H or not. E.g. iciBemba vs ChiBemba. The pronunciation will be different and the two mean two different things. The first refers the language and the second to the language

D  and G only exist if preceded by N.

G has two possible sounds. If followed by an apostrophe it makes the same sound as in morning. If not, makes a hard “g”. eg. Ng’anda vs Nga

E makes the same sound as it does in egg

F same sound as in Fish

H is only seen accompanying c and changes the intonation of the “ch” sound

I makes the same sound as in India

K makes a ‘k’ sound

L makes the same sound as in Lama

M makes a ‘m’ sound as in Monk

N makes the same sound as Nancy

O makes the same sound as in Orange

P always makes a p sound

S makes the same sound as in snake

T makes the same ‘t’ sound

U  makes the same sound as in Snooze

W makes the same sound as in went

Y makes the same sound as in yellow

J, Q, R, V, X and Z are not present and for hardcore Bemba speakers they will often replace these with the sounds of Y, K, L, B/F, “es” and S.

I do not consider myself an expert so I am happy to year people’s thoughts.

Author: blessingsonahill

When I figure it out, I'll let you know

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