The Igbo Alphabet

Ḿkpụ́rụédémédé Ìgbò

Welcome to the first Igbo lesson on Naijish!

We are going to start off with the Igbo alphabet, known as ‘Ḿkpụ́rụédémédé Ìgbò’ in Igbo.

Before we get in to the Igbo Alphabet here are a few fun facts about the Igbo language, known as ‘Ásụ̀sụ́ Ìgbò’. Igbo is spoken predominantly in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria and has around a whopping 30 million speakers worldwide!

Igbo speaking region of Nigeria

Now back to the Igbo alphabet.

The English alphabet has 26 letters, but you know how we Nigerians are, we like to be extra, so the Igbo alphabet has…36 letters.

One of the big benefits of the Igbo alphabet is that you’ve seen most of the letters in it before (now you’ll just see new combinations). Thankfully, you’re not learning a whole new writing system like in Greek or Japanese, so it shouldn’t take you too long to get the hang of it.

So to start you off, I’ve created a table below showing you how to pronounce individual letters and how to pronounce these letters when they’re in words. You know, like how we pronounce the letter b as ‘bee’ but when it’s in a word it sounds like ‘buh’ like in the words ‘block’, ‘bread and ‘brown’.

The Igbo alphabet with audio

LetterLetter PronunciationPronunciation of Letter in a WordAudio
A (a)ahpronounced as the ‘a’ in ‘apple’ 
B (b)biipronounced as the ‘b’ in ‘bed’ 
CH (ch)chiipronounced as the ‘ch’ in ‘church’ 
D (d)diipronounced as the ‘d’ in ‘dog’ 
E (e)ehpronounced as the ‘e’ in ‘egg’ 
F (f)fiipronounced as the ‘f’ in ‘fish’ 
G (g)giipronounced as the ‘g’ in ‘get’ 
GB (gb)gbiino English equivalent 
GH (gh)ghiino English equivalent 
GW (gw)gwiipronounced as the ‘Gw’ in the female given name ‘Gwendolyn’ or ‘Gwen’ 
H (h)hiipronounced as the ‘h’ in ‘hit’ 
I (i)eepronounced as the ‘ee’ in ‘flee’ 
ḷ (ị)irhpronounced as the ‘i’ in ‘itch’ 
J (j)jeepronounced as the ‘j’ in ‘jet’ 
K (k)keepronounced as the ‘k’ in ‘keep’ 
KP (kp)kpiino English equivalent 
KW (kw)kwiipronounced as the ‘q’ in ‘quick’ 
L (l)liipronounced as the ‘l’ in ‘like’ 
M (m)miipronounced as the ‘m’ in ‘meat’ 
N (n)niipronounced as the ‘n’ in ‘neat’ 
Ṅ (ṅ)ṅiipronounced as the ‘ng’ in ‘king’ 
NW (nw)nwiino English equivalent 
NY (ny)nyiipronounced as the ‘gn’ in ‘seigneur’ 
O (o)ohpronounced as the ‘o’ in ‘bold’ 
Ọ (ọ)orpronounced as the ‘o’ in ‘shot’ 
P (p)piipronounced as the ‘p’ in ‘pin’ 
R (r)riipronounced as the ‘r’ in ‘rich’ 
S (s)siipronounced as the ‘s’ in ‘sit’ 
SH (sh)shiipronounced as the ‘sh’ in ‘shoe’ 
T (t)tiipronounced as the ‘t’ in ‘tea’ 
U (u)uhpronounced as the ‘oo’ in ‘book’ 
Ụ (ụ)urhpronounced as the ‘Ur’ in the female given name ‘Ursula’ 
V (v)viipronounced as the ‘v’ in ‘van’ 
W (w)wiipronounced as the ‘w’ in ‘win’ 
Y (y)yiipronounced as the ‘y’ in ‘yes’ 
Z (z)ziipronounced as the ‘z’ in ‘zebra’ 

Take note

So you may have noticed a few letters which don’t have an equivalent sound in English, these letters ‘gb’, ‘gh’, ‘kp’, ‘nw’ may seem a little tricky at first, but all you need is a little practice, so make sure that you keep replaying the audio so you know how to pronounce them.

Here’s a useful video on the Igbo alphabet by “Made in Igbo”.

Well done! You’ve completed the first Igbo language lesson, that wasn’t anywhere near as challenging as you thought it would be, was it? The next lesson will be on how to pronounce words in Igbo.