Revision as of 21:37, 20 June 2011
An Ukara Ekpe material covered in nsibidi characters.
Igbo (Igbo: Asụsụ Igbo) is a Niger-Congo language spoken primarily in south eastern Nigeria. There are between 18-25 million speakers that are mostly in the a part of Nigeria known as Igboland, and its speakers are primarily of Igbo descent. Igbo is a recognised language of Nigeria and is also spoken natively in Cameroon. There are many different dialects of Igbo which can sometimes cannot be mutually intelligible to other Igbo speakers, for this reason a standard for Igbo called 'Igbo izugbe' has been developed. Igbo is written in the Latin alphabet introduced by British colonialists and missionaries. Secret societies such as the Ekpe use the nsibidi ideograms to write Igbo and other languages around its area of influence. Nsibidi is an ideographic writing system used for over 1500 years.
Major cities where Igbo is dominant include Onitsha, Enugu, Owerri (oh-weh-reh), Port Harcourt, and Asaba (in Igbo, ah-hah-bah).
Through the transatlantic slave trade, the Igbo language has influenced many creoles in the Americas, especially in the former British Caribbean including islands such as Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Variations of Igbo can be found in Cuba, the island of Bioko in Equatorial Guinea, formerly known as Fernando Po, and in micro-communities in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, it is also spoken among the recent migrants of Igbo descent all over the world and in the organisations they have set up.
Igbo is a tonal language with a high, mid, and low range. Accents are used to indicate the high and low tones; an acute accent such as 'ó' are used for high tones, and a grave accent such as 'è' is used for a low tone. There are further accents that indicate nasal tones. The lower dotted accent such as 'ọ' is used to indicate a low nasal tone, and an upper dotted accent such as 'ė' is used for a high nasal tone. The trema (¨) such as 'ö' is used for a mid nasal tone.
Vowels in Igbo are very similar to those in English when there is little tone stress on them. Most of the times vowels in Igbo are written with accents indicating this tone.
- like 'a' in "father"
- like 'e' in "get"
- like 'ee' in "seen"
- low tone nasal 'i'
- like 'o' in "coat"
- low tone nasal 'o'
- like 'oo' in "pool"
- low tone nasal u
Consonants do not have a tone in Igbo apart from 'n' and 'm' which are the only letters that can be written with accent marks.
- like 'b' in "bit"
- like 'd' in "dim"
- like 'f' in "feline"
- like 'g' in "give"
- like 'h' in "hinge"
- like 'j' in "jelly"
- like 'k' in "kettle"
- like 'l' in "limb"
- like 'm' in "mint"
- like 'n' in "nit"
- not in English, but a nasal 'n', sort of like drink
- like 'p' in "pit"
- like 'r' in "rent"
- like 's' in "seam"
- like 't' in "tea"
- like 'v' in "villa"
- like 'w' in "win"
- like 'y' in "yield"
- like 'z' in "zink"
- like 'ch' in "cheese"
- an explosive sound not found in English, but a 'b' sound is made while shaping the mouth for 'g'
- like 'gh' in "ghost"
- like 'gw' in Welsh "Gwyn"
- not in English, but a 'p' sound is made while shaping the mouth for 'k'
- like 'q' in "queen"
- like 'wa' in "wag", but nasal like a baby crying
- like 'ny' in "canyon"
- like 'sh' in "ship"
Igbo is considered an agglutinative language. Igbo grammar generally maintains a subject–verb–object structure.
Using special greetings when addressing elders of the society and those generally significantly older than you is expected in Igbo society. In smaller communities such as villages, it is also expected of non-elders to greet every elder whenever you first see them in a day. Here are some of the greetings used between different levels of the society.
- kedu (kay-DOO)
- the most common formal greeting equivalent to 'hello'
- ndéewo (in-DAY-woah)
- A formal greeting that can be used to greet anyone
- ma-mma (MAHM-MA)
- this is the most common polite term when addressing an elder or important person in society, this is used alongside the persons name and an honorific
- nnọọ (in-NOORE)
- a greeting mostly used in the northern part of Igboland
- nda (in-DAH)
- can be an equivalent of 'what's up'
- ani (AH-NEE)
- more direct, used only by friends, insulting if used on someone older than the greeter
- olea (aw-LEE-yah)
- more direct, mostly from a friend to a friend
- ogini kwanu/gini mere (AW-gee-nee KU-wa-NOO/GEE-nee meh-reh)
- very direct and informal, literally 'what's happening'.
There are greetings usually made to a group of people which can also be used to boost morale.
- Kwenu (ku-WAY-noo)
- The most common group greeting, used only by males.
- Daalu nu (DAH-LOO noo)
- Meaning literally 'thank you all', this can be used by anybody.
In Igbo society there are different ways of addressing people depending on their status in society. In order for good manners and politeness, Igbo speakers are expected to user honorifics to address those that are significantly older than them (usually those old enough to be an uncle or grandparent, sure enough 'uncle' is sometimes used as an honorific). Here are a some of the basic honorifics used in Igbo society.
- mazi- (MAH-ZEE)
- The most basic honorific for males, about equivalent to Mister. Mazi Ibekwe: Mister Ibekwe
- da- (DAH)
- The most basic honorific for males, about equivalent to Misses, Miss, and most similar to madam or ma'am. Da Mgbechi: Madam Mgbechi
- de-de- (DEH-deh)
- Another honorific for males, usually used in an informal setting, may be seen as the male equivalent of 'da', it has no equivalent in English, but is similar to saying 'big brother'. It is usually shortened to 'de'.
- ichie (EE-CHEE-YEAH)
- literally elder, used to address elders.
- nzè (IN-zay)
- a noble title found in the northern parts of Igboland.
- lọlọ (LOH-LOH)
- can be interpreted as 'dane' or 'dutchess', a title given to the wife of a titled man.
For those younger than yourself, they can be called by their gender, 'nwoke' male or 'nwanyi' female, or by 'nwa' (WAHN) meaning child. This form address can be patronising.
Reading and writing
The Igbo language was first written down with ideographs known as nsibidi which originated in the cross river region of Africa. Nsibidi characters or symbols were used to represent ideas and some words but were not read. British colonialism since the late 19th century till 1960 has wiped away nisbidi from daily use and has led to the introduction of the latin-script based önwu script used which is now used to write Igbo. The first book written in Igbo was an Ibo-Isuama primer by Bishop Ajayi Crowther, a Sierra Leonean creole of Egba-Yoruba descent in the 19th century. As a tonal language, the Latin script has been modified to fit the different tones and sounds of the Igbo language.
Igbo literature is has been little since colonialism introduced an alphabet. Literature in English by Igbo writers on Igbo society, however, have achieved international acclaim, the most popular of these books, Things Fall Apart, written by author Chinua Achebe, deals with the subject of colonialism and the destruction of Igbo society in the late 19th century.
Igbo languages tonality may be confusing at times as one word may have different meanings according to the way the tones are used. Diacritics are used to signal tones in written Igbo along with other special characters such as the dot over (˙) and underneath (.) A popular example of this is ákwà ('cloth'), àkwá ('egg').
There are hundreds of Igbo dialects and Igboid languages spoken by different clans and former nation-states. The high variation and low mutual intelligibility between many Igbo dialects has been a hindrance to written Igbo and Igbo literature over the years, this has lead to the development of a standard form of Igbo known as 'central Igbo' or Igbo izugbe. This standard form was based on dialects around the central parts of Igboland. Although it is was created to boost Igbo literature, it has received backlash and opposition from Igbo speakers such as author Chinua Achebe, who prefer to speak their own dialects. Igbo izubge is the standard used in the curriculum of Igbo-language studies.
Although most signs in the Igbo-speaking areas of Nigeria may be in English, it will still be helpful to learn some of these signs in case you find your self in a more rural community.
- Mèpòru (MEH-poe-roo)
- Mèchìrì (MAY-chi-REE)
- Ọbụbà (AW-BOO-BAA)
- Úzọr Èzí (OO-zor AY-ZEE)
- Nu (NOO)
- Dọ (DOOR)
- Mpọsi (IM-paw-SI)
- Umunwóke (OO-MOO-wow-KAY)
- Umunwañyi (OO-MOO-wa-yi)
- Ihe Nsọ (I-HYEAH IN-saw)
- Kedú. (keh-DO)
- Hello. (informal)
- Ǹda. (in-DAH)
- Nnöö (in-NOOR)
- How are you?
- Kedu kà ímèrè? (keh-du kah E MEH-REH)
- Fine, thank you.
- Ọ di mma. (AW DEE MM-MA)
- What is your name?
- Kedu áhà gi? (keh-DO AH-HA gee)
- My name is ______ .
- Áhàm bụ ______, or Afam bu (: AH-HAM BOO _____ .)
- Nice to meet you.
- Ọ di mma. (AW DEE MM-MA)
- Biko. (BEE-COE)
- Thank you.
- Daalu/Imela. (DA-LOO/EE-MEH-LAH)
- You're welcome.
- Ndéwo. (IN-day-WOAH)
- Éeyi, Ëhh. (ey, AEH)
- Mbà . (IM-BAH)
- Excuse me. (getting attention)
- Biko, chètú. (BEE-coe, CHE-too)
- Excuse me. (begging pardon)
- Biko, é weli íwé. (BEE-coe, A WELLI E-WAY)
- I'm sorry.
- Ndo; Gbaghàrám. (INDO, BA-ga-RAM)
- Ka omesia. (KAH O-MEH-SI-YA)
- Goodbye (informal)
- Ka anyi húní. (KA-NYEE HOO-NEE)
- I can't speak Igbo [well].
- A nam a sú Igbo [ọfuma]. (AH nam AH sue EEG-BOW [AW-FOO-MAH])
- Do you speak English?
- I na sú Bèké ? (EE na SOO BAY-KAY?)
- Is there someone here who speaks English?
- Ọ di onye nọ nga nweríkí súfù bèké? (OR dee on-yeh NOR in-GAH weh-RI-KI SUH-foo beh-KEH?)
- Nyem áká! (NYEM AH-KAH)
- Look out!
- Lèmá kwá! (LAY-MA KWA)
- Good morning.
- Ibola chi. (e BORLA CHI)
- Good evening.
- Ézígbó mgbede. (AY-ZEE-GBO MM-GBAYDAY)
- Good night.
- Ka chi bọ. (KA CHI BAW)
- Good night (to sleep)
- Ka chi fọ. (KA chi FOR)
- I don't understand.
- À ghotaghím. ( )
- Where is the toilet?
- Ké ébé mpọsi dì? (keh EH BEH mmPosee D)
- íshí (EE-SHEE)
- ihü (EE-HUE)
- ányá (AHN-YAH)
- ńtị (NN-tih)
- ímí (EE-MEE)
- akpịlị (AHK-pee-leeh)
- àgbà (ahg-bah)
- ólú (OH-LOO)
- ùbu (oo-boo)
- ugwùlùgwù (ooh-gwoo-loo-gwoo)
- úkwù (OO-kwoo)
- ihü áká (EE-HUE AH-KAH)
- nkwekọ áká (nn-kweh-koh AH-KAH)
- mkpisi áká (mm-KPEE-see AH-KAH)
- áká (AH-KAH)
- ǹkù (nn-koo)
- íkẹ (EE-keh)
- àkpàtà (ahk-pah-tah)
- íkpèlè (EEK-peh-leh)
- úkwụ (OO-KOOH)
- òkpà (oh-k-pah)
- Leave me alone.
- Hafum áká. (HAH-foom AH-KAH)
- Don't touch me!
- É mètùlum áka! (EH meh-too-loom AH-KAH)
- I'll call the police.
- M gi kpọ ndi ùwé ojié. (IM gee POR in-di oo-WEH OH-JI-yeah)
- Poleesi/Uwè ojié! (poe-LEE-see/OO-way oh-JEE!)
- Stop! Thief!
- Kushí! Onye óshi/ohi! (koo-shee! OH-NYE OH-shi)
- I need your help.
- Á chom kí nyém àkà. (AH chom kee nyeah-m AH-KAH)
- It's an emergency.
- Ọ bu ihnyé óbì ọsịsọ. (OR boo i-hi-yeh OH-bee OH-si-sor)
- I'm lost.
- À mághim ébém nọr. (AH MAH-gim EH-BEH-m NOR)
- I lost my bag.
- Akpám è fuólé. (ak-pam EH FU-OH-lay)
- I lost my wallet.
- Akpá égóm è fuólé. (AK-PA EH-gom EH FU-OH-lay)
- I'm sick.
- Àhụ nà anwụm. (ah-HOO NAH woom)
- I've been injured.
- Á meruolam àhú. (AH MEH-RU-AW-LAM ah-hoo)
- I need a doctor.
- Onye ògwò orịá kam chọ. (OH-yeh OH-gw-oh OH-ri-ya KAM chor)
- Can I use your phone?
- M nwèríkí jítú fonu gí? (IM weh-RI-KI JI-TOO fo-nu GEE)
- 1 One
- Ótù (OH-too)
- 2 Two
- Abuọ (ah-BWORE)
- 3 Three
- Àtȯ (ah-TOH)
- 4 Four
- Anọ (ah-NORE)
- 5 Five
- Isé (ee-SAY)
- 6 Six
- Ishii (EE-SHE-e)
- 7 Seven
- Asaa (ah-SAH-ah)
- 8 Eight
- Asatọ (ah-SAH-toh)
- 9 Nine
- Itóolu (ee-TOE-LOO)
- 10 Ten
- Iri (ee-REE)
- 11 Eleven
- Iri na ótù (ee-REE nah OH-too)
- 12 Twelve
- Iri na abuọ (ee-REE nah ah-BWORE)
- 13 Thirteen
- Iri na àtȯ (ee-REE nah ah-TOH)
- 14 Fourteen
- Iri na anọ (ee-REE nah ah-NORE)
- 15 Fifteen
- Iri na isé (ee-REE nah ee-SAY)
- 16 Sixteen
- Iri na ishii (ee-REE nah EE-SHE-e)
- 17 Seventeen
- Iri na asaa (ee-REE nah ah-SAH-ah)
- 18 Eighteen
- Iri na asatọ (ee-REE nah ah-SAH-toh)
- 19 Nineteen
- Iri na itóolu (ee-REE nah ee-TOE-LOO)
- 20 Twenty
- Iri abuọ / Ọgȯ (ee-REE ah-BWORE / aw-GOH)
- 21 Twenty one
- Iri abuọ na ótù (ee-REE ah-BWORE nah OH-too)
- 22 Twenty two
- Iri abuọ na abuọ (ee-REE ah-BWORE nah ah-BWORE)
- 23 Twenty three
- Iri abuọ na àtȯ (ee-REE ah-BWORE nah ah-TOH)
- 30 Thirty
- Iri àtȯ (ee-REE ah-TOH)
- 40 Fourty
- Iri anȯ (ee-REE ah-NORE)
- 50 Fifty
- Iri isé (ee-REE ee-SAY)
- 60 Sixty
- Iri ishii (ee-REE EE-SHE-e)
- 70 Seventy
- Iri Asaa (ee-REE ah-SAH-ah)
- 80 Eighty
- Iri Asato (ee-REE ah-SAH-toh)
- 90 Ninety
- Iri Itenani (ee-REE ee-TOE-LOO)
- 100 Hundred
- Nnari (IN-NAH-REE)
- 200 Two hundred
- Nnari abuọ (in-NAH-REE ah-BWORE)
- 300 Three hundred
- Nnari àtȯ (in-NAH-REE ah-TOH)
- 1000 Thousand
- Puku (POO-KOO)
- 2000 Two Thousand
- Puku abuọ (POO-KOO ah-BWORE)
- 3000 Three Thousand
- Puku àtȯ (POO-KOO ah-TOH)
- 10,000 Ten Thousand
- Puku iri (POO-KOO ee-RE)
- 100,000 A hundred thousand
- Puku nnari (POO-KOO IN-NAH-REE)
- 1,000,000 Million
- Ndè (IN-day)
- 100,000,000 A hundred million
- Ndè nnari (IN-day IN-NAH-REE)
- 1,000,000,000 Billion
- Ijeri (ee-JAY-REE)
- ógè (OH-gey)
- ubwa (oo-BWA)
- ómeziá (OH-MEH-ZEE-YAH)
- du (DOO)
- ụtútụ (ooh-TUH-tuh)
- èfìfiè (ay-fee-fyeh)
- èhíhnyè, mgbèdè anyàsì (ay-HEE-hi-yeah, im-be-de ah-ni-yah-see)
- ùruluchi (oo-ROO-LOO-CHEE)
- ábàlì (AH-bah-lee)
- Élékéré (AY-LAY-KAY-REH)
- six o'clock in the morning
- élékéré ishii na ụtútụ (AY-LAY-KAY-REH ee-SHE-ee nah oo-TUH-tuh)
- nine o'clock AM
- élékéré itoolu na ụtútụ (AY-LAY-KAY-REH ee-TOE-LOO nah oo-TUH-tuh)
- èfìfiè nàbọ (ay-fee-fi-yeah nah-BOH)
- one o'clock PM
- élékéré ótù nàbọ (AY-LAY-KAY-REH OH-too nah-BOH)
- two o'clock PM
- élékéré abuọ nàbọ (AY-LAY-KAY-REH ah-BWORE nah-BOH)
- ètítì ábàlì (ay-TEE-tee AH-bah-lee)
- Nkeji (in-KAY-jee)
- Mkpìlìkpì ógè (im-pee-lee-pee OH-gey)
- Àmànị (ah-mah-nee)
- Ụbọchi (oo-boh-chee)
- Izù (ee-zoo)
- Ȯnwa (AW-WAH)
- Áfọ (AH-fore)
Ịzu afia/ahia - Market week
The traditional week in Igbo speaking communities consists of 4 days, each are indicative of a particular market of many different communities. The market days were established by the god-like Eri, an important Igbo ancestor of the 1st millennium AD. Market days are very important to various Igbo communities as they are used to mark major events in the community. Each community is assigned a special day for their market; in a village group no other markets are to be held on a particular villages day. The names of the market days are also used for cardinal directions in some Igbo communities.
These traditional market days are:
- áfȯ/Aho (AH-four)
- corresponding to the north
- ńkwȯ (IN-kwor)
- corresponding to the south
- éké/ekeh (AY-KAY)
- corresponding to the east
- órie, oye (OH-ree-yeah)
- corresponding to the west
- úbọchi ta (oo-BOH-chi tah)
- chi làràni (CHI lah-RAH-nee)
- échí (ay-CHI)
- this week
- izù nka (ee-ZOO in-KAH)
- last week
- izù làràni (ee-ZOO lah-RAH-nee)
- next week
- izù nábiá (ee-ZOO nah-BYAH)
- Úbọchị úkà (oo-BOH-chi oo-KAH)
- Mondè (MOHN-dae)
- Tusde (toos-dae)
- Wensde (WENS-dae)
- Tosdè (TOHS-dae)
- Fraidè (FRY-dae)
- Satde (SAHT-dae)
Oguaro/afọ - Traditional calendar
The calendar of the Igbo people is known as Oguaro or Oguafor (lit. 'counting of the years'). Month in Igbo is ọnwa (lit. 'moon'), year is 'afọ'. The traditional Igbo year has 13 months which are usually names after their position in the year, but most are named after a religious ceremony or after a certain deity such as Ana the alusi (deity) of the earth. The traditional 13 month calendar is rarely used in Igbo society, instead the Gregorian 12 month calendar is used. Below are the months of the year in the traditional 13 week Oguaro calendar and their Gregorian equivalent.
- Months (Ọnwa)
- Gregorian equivalent
- Ọnwa Mbụ (AW-wah MM-BOO)
- 3rd week of February
- Ọnwa Abuọ (AW-wah AH-bu-wor)
- Ọnwa Ife Eke (AW-wah EE-fay AY-KAY)
- Ọnwa Anọ (AW-wah AH-nor)
- Ọnwa Agwụ (AW-wah AH-goo)
- Ọnwa Ifejiọkụ (AW-wah EE-fay-jee-OR-koo)
- Ọnwa Alọm Chi (AW-wah AH-LOHM chi)
- August to early September
- Ọnwa Ilo Mmụọ (AW-wah EE-low MM-MORE)
- Late September
- Ọnwa Ana (AW-wah AH-NAH)
- Ọnwa Okike (AW-wah OH-kee-kay)
- Early November
- Ọnwa Ajana (AW-wah AH-jah-nah)
- Late November
- Ọnwa Ede Ajana (AW-wah AY-DAY ah-jah nah)
- Late November to December
- Ọnwa Ụzọ Alụsị (AW-wah oo-ZOR AH-LUH-SEE)
- January to Early February
The Gregorian calendar is translated into Igbo either by naming the twelve months by their position in the calendar, or by using loan words from English.
- Ọnwa Mbụ, Januari (AW-WAH OH-too, JAH-noo-wa-ree)
- Ọnwa Abuọ, Febureri (AW-WAH ah-BWORE, FEH-boo-way-ree)
- Ọnwa Àtọ, Machi (AW-WAH ah-TOH, MAH-chi)
- Ọnwa Ànȯ, Eprulu (AW-WAH ah-NORE, AY-prool-oo)
- Ọnwa Ise, Me (AW-WAH ee-SAY, MEH)
- Ọnwa Ishii, Jun (AW-WAH EE-SHE-e, JOON)
- Ọnwa Asaa, Julai (AW-WAH ah-SAH-ah, JOO-lai)
- Ọnwa Asatọ, Ogost (AW-WAH ah-SAH-toh, AW-gost)
- Ọnwa Itoolu, Seputemba (AW-WAH ee-TOE-LOO, SEP-tehm-BAH)
- Ọnwa Iri, Oktoba (AW-WAH ee-REE, OK-toe-BAH)
- Ọnwa Iri na Ótu, Novemba (AW-WAH ee-REE nah OH-too, NO-vehm-BAH)
- Ọnwa Iri na Abuọ, Disemba (AW-WAH ee-REE nah ah-BWORE, DEE-sem-bah)
There are only two seasons in the Igbo homeland; the dry season and the rainy season. There is also a dusty trade wind known as harmattan throughout west Africa.
- Rainy season
- Ùdù mmíri (oo-doo MM-MEE-REE)
- Dry season
- Ọkọchì (aw-koh-chee)
- ugụlụ (OO-goo-loo)
Writing time and date
The Igbo have adopted the Western way of writing the time and date, most of the times dates are written as they would in English speaking country's (dd/mm/yyyy). These are soome of the terms for date and time in Igbo.
- Áfọr (AH-fore)
- Afọr iri (AH-fore ee-REE)
- ọchié (oh-CHEE-yeah)
- colour attribute, emit
- chä (CHAH)
- It is...
- Ọ dị... (AW dee)
- It is coloured...
- Ọ nà chá... (AW na chah)
- oji (oh-JEE)
- ọchá (aw-CHA)
- ntụ ntụ, gre (in-TOO in-TOO, GREY)
- üfie (oo-fi-YEAH)
- otánjèlè (sort of cosmetics), blu (AW-TAHN-jeh-leh, BLOO)
- édo, ògùlù, yélo (EY-doe, OH-goo-loo, YEAR-loe)
- ọchá ndù (AW-cha in-doo)
- ọchá mmanu mmanu, Orenji (AW-cha MM-MAH-NOO MM-MAH-NOO, OH-rehn-jee)
- òdòdò (oh-doe-doe)
- àkpammanụ, brawnu (AKH-pah-im-manu, BROW-noo)
Bus and train
- How much is a ticket to _____?
- Égó òlé ka tiketi di nke na ga _____? (AY-GO oh-LEY kah tee-keh-tee dih in-KAY nah gah)
- One ticket to _____, please.
- Nyem ótù tiket nke na ga _____, biko. (YEHM OH-too TEE-keht in-KAY NAH GAH _____, BEE-COE)
- Where does this train/bus go?
- Ébé òlé ka ụgbo igwẹ/bosu nka na ga? (AY-BOW-LAY kah oog-bow EE-GWEH/BOR-soo in-KAH nah GAH)
- Where is the train/bus to _____?
- Ébé òlé ka ụgbo igwẹ/bosu dị, nke na ga _____? (AY-BOW-LAY kah oog-bow EE-GWEH/BOR-soo dee, in-KAY NAH GAH _____?)
- Does this train/bus stop in _____?
- Ụgbo igwẹ/bosu nka, ọ nà kúshí na _____? (oog-bow EE-GWEH/BOR-soo in-KAH, aw nah KOO-SHEE nah _____?)
- When does the train/bus for _____ leave?
- Mgbe òle ka ụgbo igwẹ/bosu nke na ga _____? nà fú? (mm-beh OH-LAY kah oog-bow EE-GWEH/BOR-su in-KAY nah GAHH _____?)
- When will this train/bus arrive in _____?
- Mgbe òle ka ụgbo igwẹ/bosu nkè gi ru _____? (mm-beh OH-LAY kah oog-bow EE-GWEH/BOR-su in-KAY GEE- ROO _____?)
- élú (AY-LOO)
- nàlà (nah-lah)
- nà élú (nah AY-LOO)
- okpúrù (oak-KPOO-roo)
- nà íshí, nà ihü (nah EE-SHEE, nah EE-HUE)
- nà àzú (nah-ZOO)
- How do I get to _____ ?
- Òtùóle kam gi ruo ______? (oh-too-OH-LAY kahm GEE-ROW)
- ...the train station?
- ...ébé ụgbo igwẹ nà kúshí? (AY-BAY oohg-BOW EE-gweh nah KOO-SHEE?)
- ...the bus station?
- ...ébé bos steshon? (AY-BAY BOS STAY-shun?)
- ...the airport?
- ... epot? (EH-pot?)
- ...àzú obodo? (ah-ZOO oh-bow-doe)
- ...the youth hostel?
- ...ụlọ úmù ndi yut? (ooh-loh OO-moo IN-DEE YOO-t)
- ...the _____ hotel?
- ...ébé hotel _____ ? (AY-BAY hoe-tell)
- ...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate?
- ...ébé ndi mbiàmbiá Amerika/Kanada/Ostrailia/Briten? (AY-BAY IN-DEE mm-byah-BYAH...)
- Where are there a lot of...
- Ébé olé kà Í gí nwétá óké... (AY-BAY oh-LAY kah EE GEE WEH-TAH O-KAY)
- ...ébém gi hï? (AY-BEHM GEE HEE)
- ...úlọ nri? (OOH-loh in-REE)
- ...úlọ mmányá? (OOH-loh IM-MAHN-YAH)
- ...sites to see?
- ...ébé nlènlé kwánú? (AY-BAY in-lehn-LAY KWA-NOO)
- Can you show me on the map?
- Ì gi zim òtú úzọr/map? (ee GEE zeem oh-TOO OO-zor/MAH-pu)
- okpóló ilo (ohk-PO-LOK ee-LOW)
- Turn right.
- Gbá na áká nri./Gba raitu. (BAH nah AH-KAH REE./BAH RAI-too)
- Turn left.
- Gbá na áká èkpè./Gba leftu. (BAH nah AH-KAH ehk-peh./BAH LEHF-too)
- áká nri, áká Ikéngà, raitu (AH-KAH REE, AH-KAH ee-ken-gah, RAI-too)
- áká èkpè, leftu (AH-KAH ehk-pe, LEHF-too)
- straight ahead
- gàwá na ihü (gah-WAH nah EE-HUE)
- towards the _____
- nọr nà úzòr _____ (noh nah OO-zor)
- past the _____
- gáfè _____ (GAH-fay)
- before the _____
- nà íshí _____ (nah EE-SHEE)
- Watch for the _____.
- Lèmá kwá _____. (leh-MAH KWAH)
- jonkshon (JONK-shon)
- òlìlé anyanwü, áfȯ (oh-lee-LAY AHN-YAH-WOO, AH-four)
- nlédà anyanwü, ṅkwȯ (in-LAY-dah AHN-YAH-WOO, IN-kwor)
- ọwụwà anyanwü, éké (OH-WOO-WAH AHN-YAH-WOO, AY-KAY)
- ọdịdà anyanwü, órie (oh-dee-dah AHN-YAH-WOO, OH-ree-yeah)
- élú ügwü (AY-LOO OO-GWOOH)
- ükwü ügwü (OO-KWOO OO-GWOOH)
- Éess, Tasi! (AY-see, TAH-see)
- Take me to _____, please.
- Nwèrém gá _____, biko. (weh-REHM GAH _____, BEE-COE.)
- How much does it cost to get to _____?
- Égóle kọ di Í jé _____? (AY-GO-LAY KOH dee EE JAY _____?)
- Take me there, please.
- Nwèrém jé ébé áhü, biko. (weh-REHM JAY AY-BAY AH-hoo, BEE-COE.)
- Do you have any rooms available?
- I nwere ụla di? (EE weh-reh oo-lah dee?)
- How much is a room for one person/two people?
- Egole kọ di maka ótu madu/madu abụo? (AY-GO-LAY core dee mah-kah OH-too MAH-doo/MAH-doo ah-bu-wor?)
- Does the room come with...
- ... ọ di na ụla? (aw dee na oo-lah?)
- ...ákwà àkwà edinà? (AH-KWAH ah-kwah EH-dee-nah?)
- ...a bathroom?
- ...ụlà I sa ahu? (OO-lah EE SAH ah-HOO?)
- ...a telephone?
- ...telefonu? (teh-leh-FOE-nu?)
- ...a TV?
- ...Tivi? (TEE-vee?)
- May I see the room first?
- I nweriki hu ụla nke na otu mgbe? (ee weh-REE-KEE HUH oo-lah nn-kay na OH-too mm-gbay?)
- Do you have anything quieter?
- I nwere ihe dajụgo? (EE weh-reh EE-HEE-NYEH DAH-JOO-GO?)
- ...ukwu? (OO-KWOO?)
- ...di ọcha? (DEE aw-CHA?)
- ...di ọnu ànì? (DEE aw-NOO ah-nee?)
- OK, I'll take it.
- Ngwanu, kam nwere ya. (NN-GWA-NOO, KAHM WEHREH YAH)
- I will stay for _____ night(s).
- M gi nọ nga ábàli rúrú _____. (MM GEE NORE nn-GAH AH-bah-lee ROO-ROO _____.)
- Can you suggest another hotel?
- Ọ di hotelu ozor? (aw dee hpe-TEH-loo aw-ZOR?)
- Do you have a safe?
- I nwèrè ebe ha na kpachi ihe ndi madu? (ee weh-reh AY-BAY HAH nah PAH-CHI EE-HEE-NYE NN-DEE MAH-doo)
- ...akpata mgbachi? (...ahk-kpah-tah mm-bah-chi?)
- Is breakfast/supper included?
- azị ùtútù/nni anyasi ọ di? (AH-ZI ooh-TOO-tuh/NN-NI ah-nya-see aw dee?)
- What time is breakfast/supper?
- Mgbe ole ka ha ne weta azị ùtútù/nni anyasi? (MM-beh oh-LAY kah HAH nay WEY-TAH ah-zee ooh-TOO-tuh/NN-NI ah-nya-see aw dee?)
- Please clean my room.
- Hicha ụlam biko. (hee-CHAH oo-lah BEE-coe)
- Can you wake me at _____?
- I nweriki kpọtem na _____? (ee weh-REE-KEE POH-TEHM nah...)
- I want to check out.
- M chori chekuwe awutu. (MM chore-REE CHAY-KWOO AHW-too)
- Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars?
- I na nárá dọla ndi Amerika/Ostreliya/Kanada? (ee nah NAH-RAH DOH-lah IN-DEE...)
- Do you accept British pounds?
- I na nárá pandu ndi Buriten? (ee nah NAH-RAH PAHN-doo IN-DEE boo-REE-ten?)
- Do you accept credit cards?
- I na nárá kuredit kadu? (ee nah NAH-RAH koo-REH-DEET KAH-doo?)
- Can you change money for me?
- I na tuwari ego? (ee nah TOO-WAH-REE AY-GO?)
- Where can I get money changed?
- Ebole ka ha na tuwari ego? (eh-BOW-LAY kah HA nah TOO-WAH-REE AY-GO?)
- Can you change a traveler's check for me?
- I nweriki gbanwe cheki turavulas nkem? (ee weh-REE-KEE BAH-WEH CHAY-kee too-RAH-VOO-LAHS in-CAME?)
- Where can I get a traveler's check changed?
- Ebole ka ha na gbanwe turavulas cheki? (AY-BOW-LAY kah HAH nah BAH-WAY too-RAH-VOO-LAHS CHAY-kee?)
- What is the exchange rate?
- Gini bu ekuschenji rétụ? (GEE-NEE boo ay-koo-SHEE-CHANGE-jee RAY-too?)
- Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)?
- Ebole ka ha na wefuta ego (ATM)? (AY-BOW-LAY kah HAH nah WAY-foo-TAH AY-GO?)
What do you say...
Thank you, please and sorry can be useful in any society. The Igbo forms of these phrases are as follows.
- Ndo (in-DOE)
- In Igbo society, ndo is usually used to console someone whenever something bas happens to them, for example someone may say ndo to you if you trip over, but it generally isn't used to apologise, only in some cases.
- Biko (bee-coe)
- 'please', can also be used as an equivalent of 'excuse me'
- Imeela (ee-MEH-lah)
- Literally 'you've done it', this is used as a term for gratitude, if someone brings you a meal, this would be a term to use.
- Daalu (DAH-LOO)
- 'thanks', this is the most similar to the English 'thank you' and is the most polite
- Jisike (jee-SI-kay)
- Literally 'use strength', this term is used to show support for someone's hard work; if you see a cook working hard in the kitchen, you can say jisike, usually with a honorific, or if not use their gender ('nwoke' for male, 'nwaanyi' for female), so it would be 'nwaanyi jisike', and you will get a response like 'oh!' which is an expression of acknowledgement.
- A table for one person/two people, please.
- Biko, tebulu ótù madu/madu abuọo. (BEE-COE, TEH-boo-loo OH-too MAH-doo/MAH-doo ah-boo-AW)
- Can I look at the menu, please?
- Biko, kam hü menyu. (BEE-COE, KAHM HOO MEN-yoo)
- Can I look in the kitchen?
- M nweríkí hü ekwü? (mm weh-REE-KEE HOO EH-kwuh)
- Is there a house specialty?
- Ọ dì íhnyé nani ha ne shi nga? (aw dee EE-HEE-YEAH NAH-NEE HAH nay SHEE in-GAH?)
- Is there a local specialty?
- Ọ dì ihe ori ha ma ndi ebe nka màkà? (aw dee EE-HEE-YEAH oh-REE HAH mah IN-DEE AY-BAY in-KAH-ah mah-kah?)
- I'm a vegetarian.
- M bu vegitériyan. (MM boo veh-gee-TEH-REE-yen.)
- I don't eat pork.
- À nam e ri ánú ézì. (ah-NAHM eh REE AH-NOO AY-zee.)
- I don't eat beef.
- À nam e ri ánú efi. (ah-NAHM eh REE AH-NOO AY-FEE.)
- I only eat kosher food.
- Nani ori kosha kam ne ri. (NAH-NEE oh-REE COE-sha KAHM neh REE.)
- Can you make it "lite", please? (less oil/butter/lard)
- I nwereiki me ka ọ di ùfè, biko? (ee weh-REE-KEE MEH kah AW DEE oo-feh, BEE-COE?)
- fixed-price meal
- Rụ ọnụ ori. (rooh AW-NOO oh-REE.)
- a la carte
- Ihnye ori di (EE-HEE-YEAH oh-REE dee)
- azị ūtụtù (ah-ZEE oo-TUH-tuh)
- azị efìfìe (ah-ZEE eh-fee-fi-yeah)
- tea (meal)
- kwòze (kwòze)
- azị anyàsì (AH-ZEE ahn-yah-see)
- I want _____.
- M chọrọ _____. (MM chore-roh.)
- I want a dish containing _____.
- M chọrọ órí _____. (MM chore-roh OH-REE)
- ánú ọkúkọ (AH-NOO aw-KOO-koh)
- ánú efi (AH-NOO ay-FEE)
- ánú éwú (AH-NOO AY-WOO)
- azụ (AH-zoo)
- ánú ezi (AH-NOO AY-ZEE)
- sọseji (SOH-seh-jee)
- chizu (CHEE-zoo)
- jí (JEE)
- àkwá (ah-KWAH)
- saladu (SAH-LAH-doo)
- (fresh) vegetables
- abụbo (ndụ) (ah-boo-bore (IN-doo))
- (fresh) fruit
- ạkpạ, mkpuru osisi, frutu (ndụ) (ah-kpah, im-POO-roo OH-SEE-SEE, FROO-too (IN-doo))
- achicha (ah-chee-chah)
- tosutu (TOE-SU-too)
- índomi (IN-DOE-mee)
- osikapa (aw-see-kah-pah)
- ǹsàlà, súpu (in-sah-lah, SOO-poo)
- stew/soup (like gumbo)
- ófé (OH-FAY)
- pepper soup
- ófé ǹsàlà (OH-FAY in-sah-lah)
- àgwà (ah-gwah)
- May I have a glass of _____?
- M nweriki were otu ágá ùgèbè _____? (mm weh-REE-KEE WEH-REH OH-too AH-GAH oo-geh-beh _____?)
- May I have a cup of _____?
- M nweriki were otu ágá _____? (mm weh-REE-KEE WEH-REH OH-too AH-GAH _____?)
- May I have a bottle of _____?
- M nweriki were otu kalama _____? (mm weh-REE-KEE WEH-REH OH-too KAH-lah-mah _____?)
- kọfi (KOR-fi)
- tea (drink)
- ti (tee)
- ùmì ósísí, jusu (oo-mee OH-SEE-SEE, joo-soo)
- (bubbly) water
- mmiri (mm-MEE-ree)
- mmiri (mm-MI-ri)
- biye (bee-YEAH)
- red/white wine
- waini ufie/ọcha (WINE-nee OO-fi-yeah/aw-CHAH)
- May I have some _____?
- O kam nweturu _____ ntakiri? (aw KAHM WEH-TOO-ROO _____ IN-tah-KEE-REE?)
- ńnú (IN-NOO)
- black pepper
- ósò oji (OH-sow OH-JEE)
- bọta (BOR-tah)
- Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
- Biko, onye nọ nga? (BEE-COE, oh-YEAH noh in-GAH?)
- I'm finished.
- E mechalam. (EH MEH-CHAH-LAHM)
- It was delicious.
- Ȯ dị otó. (AW dee oh-TOH)
- Please clear the plates.
- Biko, nwefu efere ndia. (BEE-COE, WAY-foo AY-FAY-RAY IN-DEE-yah.)
- The check, please.
- Ógwọ, biko. (OH-GWOR BEE-coe.)
- I want to drink...
- Á chọm Í ñụ _____ (AH chore-mm EE g-NOO _____)
- Do you serve alcohol?
- Ì nè ré ḿmáñyá? (ee NAY ray mm-MAN-YAH?)
- Is there table service?
- Hà nè ché tébulu? (HAH neh CHAY TEH-boo-loo?)
- A beer/two beers, please.
- Ótù ḿmáñyá/ḿmáñyá abụo, biko. (OH-too MM-MAHN-YA ah-BWORE, BEE-COE.)
- A glass of red/white wine, please.
- Nkalama ḿmáñyá ùfie/ọchá, biko. (NN-kah-lah-mah MM-MAHN-YA ooh-fie/aw-CHAH, BEE-COE)
- A pint, please.
- Ótù paint, biko. (OH-too pah-int, BEE-COE)
- A bottle, please.
- Ótù aba, biko. (OH-too AH-BAH, BEE-COE)
- _____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please.
- _____ (ḿmáñyá ȯkụ) na _____ (ihe é jị à gbagwa ya), biko. ((MM-MAHN-YA AW-KUH) nah _____ (EE-HEE-YEAH AY jee ah g-BAH-GUAH YA), BEE-COE.)
- stawt (STAH-woot)
- wiski (WEE-skee)
- vodka (VOHD-kah)
- rom (rohm)
- ḿmáñyá ȯkụ (MM-MAHN-YA AW-KUH)
- palm wine
- ḿmáñyá ńgwọ, ḿmáñyá ṅkwú (MM-MAHN-YA NN-gwor, MM-MAHN-YA NN-KWOO)
- mmiri (MM-MEE-REE)
- drinking water
- mmiri ọñuñu (MM-MEE-REE aw-nngoo-goo)
- club soda
- clubu soda (CLAW-boo SOE-dah)
- tonic water
- mmiri tawniki (MM-MEE-REE TOH-nee-kee)
- orange juice
- jusu òlòlma (JOO-SOO aw-loh-mah)
- ihe ọñuñu (EE-HEE-YEAH aw-nngoo-goo)
- soft drink
- mínàrà (MEE-NAH-rah)
- Coke (soda)
- Koku (COE-koo)
- Do you have any bar snacks?
- Ì nwèrè ihe ntàntá? (EE weh-reh EE-HEE-YEAH nn-tah-nn-TAH?)
- One more, please.
- Ótù ozọr, biko. (OH-too-aw-ZOR, BEE-COE)
- Another round, please.
- Wètáriá háníle, biko. (weh-TAH-RI-YAH HAH-NEE-LAY, BEE-COE)
- When is closing time?
- Mgbe ole ka Í nè méchí? (mm-bay oh-LAY kah EE nay MAY-CHEE?)
- Kwenu! (QUAY-noo)
- Do you have this in my size?
- Ì nwẹrẹ ihëa na àsàm?/Ì nwẹrẹ ihëa na amàm? (...)
- How much is this?
- Égó olé ka Ihe á di? (AY-GO o-Lay KA I-HYEN AHH DI)
- That's too expensive.
- Ọ dì óké ọnü. (OR dee okay or-NU)
- Would you take _____?
- Ì gi wéré _____? (ee GEE WAY RAY)
- óké ọnü (OH-KAY AW-NOO)
- ọnü ànì (AW-NOO ah-nee)
- I can't afford it.
- E nweghim Í ki golu ya. (ay WEH-gim EE-KEE GO-LOO YA.)
- I don't want it.
- À chom I ya. (AH chom E ya.)
- You're cheating me.
- Ì na è fébém na ányá./I na ẹ mérém mu jobu. (EE neh FAY-BAY-M NAH AN-YAH./EE neh MEH-REH-MOO JOH-bu.)
- I'm not interested.
- Ányám à nọghị nga áhü. (AHN-YAH-M ah noh-gee in-GAH-hoo.)
- OK, I'll take it.
- Ngwanu, kam weri ya. (in-gwah-noo, KAHM weh-REE YAH.)
- Can I have a bag?
- Ì nwẹrẹ àkpà? (ee weh-reh ahk-pah?)
- Do you ship (overseas)?
- Ì nè réfù ihnye na ùfèsì? (ee neh REH-foo i-hee-yeah nah oo-feh-see?)
- I need...
- M chọrọ... (MM chore-roh...)
- ...ùdè ézé. (OO-deh AY-ZAE.)
- ...a toothbrush.
- ...ọ sà ézé. (OR sah AY-ZAE.)
- ...ihnye àhú umunwanyi tamponu. (ee-hee-yeah ah-HOO OO-moo-WAH-yee TAM-poh-noo.)
- ...ńchà. (NN-cha.)
- ...nsápụ íshí. (IN-sa-PU EE-SHEE.)
- ...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
- ...ihnye íshí ọwuwa/ihnye nwéfu ihnye ölulu. (EE-HEE-YEAH EE-SHEE oh-WOO-WAH/EE-HEE-YEAH nn-WEH-foo EE-HEE-YEAH ooh-loo-loo.)
- ...cold medicine.
- ...ȯgvụ óyí. (OG-voo OH-YEE.)
- ...stomach medicine.
- ...ȯgvụ áfór. (OG-voo AH-FOUR.)
- ...a razor.
- ...aguba. (ah-goo-bah.)
- ...an umbrella.
- ...òché anwü. (oh-CHE AH-wooh.)
- ...sunblock lotion.
- ...udè màkà ánwú. (ooh-day mah-kah AH-WUH.)
- ...a postcard.
- ...postu cad. (POE-STU cahd)
- ...postage stamps.
- ...stampu nke ózí. (STAHMP-oo n-KAY OH-ZEE)
- ...batiri. (BAH-TEE-ree)
- ...writing paper.
- ...akwukwọ i de ihe. (AH-KOO-KWOH EE DEH EE-hee-yeah)
- ...a pen.
- ...biki. (BEE-kee)
- ...English-language books.
- ...Ákwúkwó há dèrè nà bèké. (AH-KOO-KWOH HAH day-ray nah bay-kay)
- ...English-language magazines.
- ...Ákwúkwó magazin nke bèké. (AH-KOO-KWOH mah-gah-ZEEN in-KAY bay-kay)
- ...an English-language newspaper.
- ...nuspepa hé dèrè na bèké. (NOOS-peh-pah HEY day-ray nah bay-kay)
- ...an English-English dictionary.
- ...dishonari bèké. (DEE-SHON-NAH-ree bay-kay)
- ...a mask.
- ...ihü ékpo. (EE-HUE EK-POE)
- ...ihe òménàlà. (EE-HE-YEAH oh-MEH-nah-lah)
- I want to rent a car.
- M chò rí gbátú mótò. (MM chore RI BAH-TOO MOE-toe)
- Can I get insurance?
- M nwèríkí gota ihe é ji è cèdólu mótò? (MM we-RI-KI gor-TA i-he EH jee eh SEH-DOH-LOO moe-toe)
- stop (on a street sign)
- kụshị (koo-SHEE)
- one way
- ótù uzọr (oh-too OO-zoh)
- nyem uzọr (YEM oo-zaw)
- no parking
- ha ná à nyedo nga (HA nah nn-yeh-doe nn-GAH)
- speed limit
- ezu ọsọ uzor (EH-ZOO oh-soh oo-ZOR)
- gas (petrol) station
- ébé há nè ré petrol (AY-BAY HAH neh REH peh-trol)
- petrol (peh-TROLL)
- deezul (DEE-zool)
- I haven't done anything wrong.
- Ọ dighì ihyem mèrè. (AW dee-gee ee-HYEM MEH-REH)
- It was a misunderstanding.
- Ọ bu ọghọm. (AW boo AW-GOM)
- Where are you taking me?
- Ke ébe Í ne dúfum? (KAY AY-BAY EE neh DOO-foom)
- Am I under arrest?
- Ị nà tum nkpȯrȯ? (ee nah TOOM in-POH-ROH)
- I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
- Á bùm ónyé mbà Amerika/Osutralia/Britain/Kanada. (AH boom OHN-YE MM-bah...)
- I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
- Á chọm Í hü ndi òché mbà Amerika/Osutralia/Britain/Kanada. (AH chore-m ee HUH in-di OH-CHAY MM-bah...)
- I want to talk to a lawyer.
- Á chọm Í hü ónyé ikpe. (AH chore-m EE HUH ON-YEAH EEK-pay)
- Can I just pay a fine now?
- M nwèríkí kwú úgwọ nra ubwa? (MM we-REE-KEE k-wu OO-GWOR NN-RAH oo-bu-WAH)
Expressions and particles
Like many African languages Igbo is a very expressive language that makes use of a lot of exclamations in its daily use. Some of these are included:
- -kwanu (KWA-NOO)
This is usually added to the end of a question to make something inclusive.
- -ụkwá (ooh-KWA)
- 'as well'
similar to 'kwanu' but is added at the end of any sentence for the same effect.
- ewoh! (ay-WOAH)
- 'oh no!'
An exclamation that can be made out of exhaustion, either from laughing at a joke or when work is done, realising a mistake, like leaving the lights in the house on all night, or any other terrible event.
- Chineke! (CHEE-NAY-KAY)
Chineke is 'God' and is a common expression use for the same purposes as 'Jesus' often does in English.
- o! (OH)
- 'Okay, all right'
A exclamation that often means agreeing with something, although it can sometimes be used as sarcasm, a common situation where this is used is when someone is arrogant in their knowledge of something. It is often used on its own, but can be attached to another word, e.g 'Chim o!' meaning 'my spirit'.
- hewu! (HE-woo)
An expression used in a shocking tragic moment.
- Ȯ dịkwa égwù (AW dee-kwah EH-gwoo)
Sometimes used to show absolute rejection of something.
- tufíakwà (too-FEE-ya-kwa)
Extreme rejection or opposition of something, usually followed with clicking fingers over the head as to rid oneself of the thing in question. This is an often reaction to an abomination.
- Chineke é kwélé ihe ọjọ (CHEE-NAY-KAY EH KWEH-LEH EE-HEE-YEAH oh-joh)
- 'God will not allow a bad thing'
An exclamation made out of shock when a bad thing happens.
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