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Some letters that are used in Shiyeyi are not used in Setswana.

Z, z

The letter z in Shiyeyi sounds like the z in English:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

English

English Examples

z

zilduwa, foods; izutu, things

z

zoo, lazy, zone, size


Dz, dz

The letter combination dz in Shiyeyi sounds like the ds combination at the end of words in English, such as when a plural word is formed with an s after a d:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

English

English Examples

dz

dzwa, come from; idze, be happy

ds

beds, words, heads, needs


Zh, zh

The letter combination zh in Shiyeyi is not found in English, though it is found in French. If there are no French speakers in your area to demonstrate this sound for you, you can listen to someone saying the word jus here: http://www.forvo.com/word/jus/ You can also search on this site for other French words beginning with j to hear more examples of the Shiyeyi sound zh. Examples are below:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

French

French Examples

zh

Urezha, God; shizha, tribe

j

je, I; jus, juice; Janvier, January


Ld, ld

The letter combination ld in Shiyeyi represents a sound that is like an l with the tip of the tongue bent over backwards in the mouth when making it. Try curling the back of the tip of your tongue on the flesh just behind your front top teeth and making an l-like sound. This is a very common sound in Shiyeyi and is not found in either English or Setswana. The letter l does not occur by itself in Shiyeyi - it is only written if immediately followed by a d - as the flat-tongue l sound which is found in Setswana and English is not used in Shiyeyi. Some common Shiyeyi words with this unique sound are given below:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

ld

ldiiwa, day, sun; mulduwu, throat; ldiyi, word, voice; shilduwa, food


V, v

The letter v in Shiyeyi is pronounced like the v in English, as seen below:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

English

English Examples

v

vuna, harvest; ldivu, land, earth

v

give, value, have, van, visit


Ŵ, ŵ

The letter ŵ (written as a w with a ^ over the top) in Shiyeyi is not commonly used here in Botswana, even in words where it has been documented to be used in the past. It is a sound that is used in some Zambian languages; it sounds like a v but is made with just the lips like a w, without touching the teeth to the lips. While it is commonly replaced in use by the letter and sound w, it is worth remembering that this is a sound that may still be heard by wakuru who speak a more classic Shiyeyi. Examples of such words are given below:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

ŵ

aŵatu, people; aŵana, children

Clicks

These includes the basic click sounds (c, x, qc, and q) and their variations.

Basic clicks

While there are some click sounds in Setswana, the letters that they use don’t match the Shiyeyi. Shiyeyi has 4 basic click sounds and letters. Which letter is used depends on where the click is made in the mouth and what part of the tongue is used to click against the inside of the mouth to make the sound:

Shiyeyi

How it is made

Shiyeyi Examples

c

tip of tongue on back of top, front teeth

caara, tear apart; cimba, pierce

x

side of tongue on either side of mouth

ixaa, crave; ixauxau, prepare

qc

flat, top surface of tongue on roof of mouth

maqcowe, mokhutsomu fruits

q

tip of tongue on bump of roof of mouth

naqa, nicely; iqaa, help; iqawa, try


Nasals

The Shiyeyi letter n can occur either by itself as a simple n sound or in front of other sounds, giving them a bit of a nasal quality. That means that your voice comes through the nose a bit while making the click or some other letter. You know this is happening when you place your fingers on top of your nose and can feel it vibrate when you make the click sound. Non-click letters can have an n sound in front of them, just as they do in Setswana. A couple of examples follow, though there are other letters that can be nasalized:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

Setswana

Setswana Examples

nt

intishiro, faith; untamuna, calf

nt

ntate, (my) father; ntho, sore

nk

inkombwa, last born

nk

nko, nose; nkuku, grandmother

Examples of some nasal clicks follow:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

nc

muncu, leg; -ncene, small; wancuncu, puppies; ncamwa, milk

nx

shinxe, plan, law; inxau, razor blade; inxee, tell a story; inxaa, be at ease

nqc

manqcindi, fish guts; inqcumu, be angry; inqcee, deny an opportunity

nq

munqu, barren person; kanqu, biltong; manqehu, proverbs; zinqa, wards


Aspirated letters

The Shiyeyi letter h can occur either by itself as a simple h sound or in after other sounds, as it does in Setswana. Examples of aspirated letters in Setswana are th, ph, and tsh (as seen earlier). You know that aspiration is happening when you place your hand in front of your mouth and feel the puff of air as you make the sound. Examples of aspirated clicks in Shiyeyi are:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

ch

wuchiki, one; chaka, chop; ichuma, sympathize; wuchumakuha, compassion

xh

ixhumu, power, strength; ixhara, light (a match); ixhuru, remove rubbish

qch

maqcha, shallow (water); iqchanu, praise; qchapaaka, be plentiful

qh

iqhi, compact; shiqha, bundle; qhutura, come into view; ku qhu, there is no


Voiced letters

The Shiyeyi letter g can also be used to show that the click following it should be voiced. You know that voicing is happening when you place your hand on your throat and feel it vibrate when you make the sound. Examples of voiced clicks in Shiyeyi are:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

gc

ldigciwi, temporary shelter; igcini, lay a foundation; wugciri, slowness to boil

gx

mugxekwa, woman; igxuu, put a lot of wood on a fire; shigxau, shield

gq

gqawura, chip a tree; ldigqo, hole; mugquma, upper arm; igqara, wetland, delta

Ejectives and lengthened vowels

These include the ejective consonants (k’, t’, and ts’) and the lengthened vowels (aa, ee, ii, oo, and uu).

Ejective consonants

These are letters that are pronounced with a sound that is like a catch in the throat. It almost sounds like the letters are being ejected or forced out past a blockage in the throat. These ejectives are written with a mark. It is as if the saying of the word stops and starts again at the mark, though it is still one word. The Shiyeyi ejective consonants are:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

k’

ldik’atjama, watermelon; ink’amu, right hand side; wuk’u, slow; muk’iri, mud

t’

t’uura, push or squeeze out; t’imbuka, thrust chest

ts’

ts’iya, finish; its’a, press; ts’ita, kick; ts’ina, strangle

Long vowels

These are simply vowels that are held a little bit longer; not a lot, just so that it is noticeable. Setswana has these as well. Examples of long vowels in Shiyeyi and Setswana are:

Shiyeyi

Shiyeyi Examples

Setswana

Setswana Examples

aa

maandja, hands; mbiyaa, friend

aa

baakanya, set in order

ee

peeshi, down; weeza, increase

ee

reetsa, listen; leele, long, tall

ii

panii, here; ldiiru, sky

ii

siile, has outrun; diila, be poor

oo

koozo, everything; yoo, that one

oo

yoo, that one; letlhoo, hatred

uu

zuura, inform; shuuka, go back

uu

kuuloga, rise up, as a cloud

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