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A Guide to Mòoré Pronunciation

At first glance a sentence written in Mòoré looks intimidating, but there are only 9 rules to note and you can be reading the sentences with a little effort. You may not understand what you are reading, but the native Mòoré speaker will understand.

In Burkina-Faso Mòoré (Mossi) is written with a version of the Latin alphabet based on l'Alphabet national burkinabè (National Burkinan Alphabet), which was developed at a conference in 1976 to harmonise the written forms of all the languages of Burkina-Faso, which was known as Upper Volta at the time. It was officially adopted in 1979. Current texts look very different from this chart however.

You will often see Mòoré written with accents however. I believe this is to indicate nasalizing of the sound.

Twaleti bé yé?
Where is the bathroom?

You may sometimes see the vowels /ɛ/ and /ɔ/. These vowels are analyzed as diphthongs (/ɛ/ is considered to be ea, and /ɔ/ is considered to be oa. You will also often see two vowels together, one accented, the other not as in Mòoré. This indicates the accented letter is nasalized as in M-or-oh-ray.

A Grave accent indicates that a normally silent vowel should be pronounced (learnèd)

An Acute accent: used with certain words (for example, café, cliché) to indicate that the final e is pronounced.

Nine Easy Rules

OK, so you want to learn Mòoré. These nine easy rules are all you need to be able to read Mòoré if you are familiar with basic phonetics. As you go along you can practice your accent and increase your vocabulary.

Here's the nine rules.

A is always AH as in FATHER.
E is always A as is ATE.
I is always E as in MEAT.
O is always O as in OVER. (go figure!)
U is always OO as in NOODLES.

Father ate meat over noodles. Yes! – uh, that should be

Fatha et mit ova nudls, YƐs!

So why couldn’t English be that simple?

OK, so what about those funny looking letters?

Ɛ - as in get.
ɩ - as in big. *
Ʊ - as in book.
ʼ – called a glottal stop. The 'T' sound as in cat, but can also be used with other letters to put an emphasis on the letter. Think of how we say Uh-Oh.

  • Latin iota (majuscule: Ɩ, minuscule: ɩ) is a letter of the Latin alphabet, based on the lowercase of the Greek letter iota (ι). It was formerly used in the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the vowel in English "bit". It was replaced by a small capital I (ɪ) in 1989, but it can still be found in use in some later works.

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Page last modified on April 10, 2014, at 06:31 AM