ChiShona Sounds

The ChiShona Sound System

Pronunciation is integral to communication – you must pronounce words properly to be understood. Sounds are the basic building blocks in any language. You will practice pronunciation and for that, you require audio. You can use the Shona Tutor Channel on YouTube, lesson 1 Alphabet and vowels at for practice and Learning Shona with Tulani at, lesson 1 and 2 for vowel and syllable practice.

The chiShona alphabet has 23 letters – like the English alphabet minus L, Q and X.

  1. Vowels:

ChiShona has five vowels – a, e, i, o, u

  1. Consonants sounds and consonant combinations in context (words)

b                                                                             baba (father)

bh                                                                           bhazi (bus)

bv                                                                           kubva (to come from)

ch                                                                           chuma (beads)

d                                                                             dada (be proud)

dh                                                                           dhongi (donkey)

dy[i]                                                                       kudya (to eat)

dz                                                                           dzidza (learn)

f                                                                              famba (walk)

g                                                                              gara (sit)

h                                                                             hongu (yes)

hw                                                                          hwinha (win)

j                                                                               juzi (jersey)

k                                                                              kumba (home)

kw                                                                          kwana (enough)

m                                                                            mira (meat)

mbw                                                                      imbwa (dog)

mh                                                                         mhomho (crowd)

mv                                                                          mvura (rain)

mw                                                                        pamwe

n                                                                             nezuro (yesterday)

nd                                                                           kuenda (to go)

nh                                                                           nhanha (baby)

n’                                                                            n’anga (witchdoctor)

nw                                                                          kunwa (to drink)

ny                                                                           nyora (write)

nzv                                                                         nzvenga (dodge)

p                                                                             pasi (floor)

pf                                                                            upfumi (rich)

pw                                                                          pwanya (break)

r                                                                              rara (sleep)

s                                                                              sekuru (uncle)

sh                                                                           shanu (five)

sv                                                                            svika (arrive)

t                                                                              tete (aunt)

ts                                                                            tsoka (foot)

tsv                                                                          tsvaiva (sweep)

ty                                                                            tyora (break)

v                                                                              vudzi (hair)

vh                                                                           vhiki (week)

w                                                                            aiwa (no)

y                                                                              uya (come)

z                                                                              zuva (day)

zh                                                                           zhizha (summer)

zv                                                                            zvino (now)

[i] Bantu languages are generally phonetic. However, there are exceptions. DY is pronounced like JG in chiShona.


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