Make your own free website on

Kalabari Bibi

Consonants & Vowels

New Learners
Study List
Latest Entries
Historical Entries
Please Write!


The Kalabari form (Kf) for Consonant is given as [Knsonant] and defined in Kalabari below:

Knsonant anịẹ tombọ kẹlẹ amịna bb gbaịn tẹ sịnar’ lẹta




The Kalabari form (Kf) for Vowel is given as [Vọwẹlị] and defined in Kalabari below:

Vọwẹl anịẹ tomb amịna bbị finji tẹ sịnar’ lẹta.




There are 17 active consonants in Kalabari:

b (b),  d (d), f, g, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, w, y 


Letter                   Transcription

b                                   b as in boy

b                            not in English

C, no c in Kalabari

d                            d as in dog

d                            not in English

f                              f as in fish

g                            g as in gun

H very rare in Kalabari (perhaps only in aham! = open your mouth! as said to a baby when being fed)

j                              j  as in jump

k                             k as in keep

l                              l as in love

m                            m as in man

n                             n as in nose

p                             p as in peace

Q, no q in Kalabari

r                              r as in redeemer

s                             s as in saviour

t                              t as in teacher

V, very rare in Kalabari (perhaps only in vala = sail)

w                            w as in win

X, no x in Kalabari

y                              y as in yam

Z, no z in Kalabari


This diacritic mark (-) placed under b and d, gives each of these consonants a pecuilar sound not found in the English language e.g


b as in:

bibi = mouth

beri = ear

bara = hand



d as in:

diri = book

dosi = jump

dori = weeve




There are 9 vowels in Kalabari: 

a    (e  ẹ)   (i  ị)   (o ọ)   (u ụ)


Letter                 Transcription

a                           a   as  in  ant   e.g  ►ama = city aru = car, boat


e                           ay   as  in  day   e.g  ►ene = rain;  emi = be


                           e    as  in  egg  e.g  ►ẹrẹ = name;  ẹkị = peel


i                             ee  as  in  deed  e.g ►igu = mountain 


                             i     as  in  think   e.g ►ịnọ = sore;  ịrụa = sun


o                            oh   e.g ►oru = idol;  onu = fence


                            aw  as in law   e.g ►ọwụ = heat;  ọlọ = cough


u                            oo  as in  food  e.g ►oru = idol;  onu = fence


                            u   as in  noun   e.g ►ịrụa = sun; ịrụ = little



Vowel Harmony:             

The followings are wide vowels:    e   i   o   u

The followings are narrow  vowels:  ẹ   ị   ọ   ụ

              Handwritten(cursive) form   e     o   u



Long Vowels: 

In the Kalabari language, long vowels occur when:


(i) a vowel has to carry two tones: 

laate = it is time or time up! 

Here the first 'a' is down-stepped and the second 'a' rises.


( ii ) a vowel is lenghtened to stress grammer:   

bo = to come     boo = come (imperative)

dori = to weave     dorii = weave (imperative)



Syllabic Nasals: 

Syllabic nasals occur when  'm'  and in some cases  'n' is written before labials and labial - vellars



A labial  is a speech sound made with the lips such as:  m   b   p   v   

A vellar  is a speech sound made by placing the back of the tongue against or near the back part of the mouth such as:  k    g.  

Examples of Syllabic Nasals are:


mbana  =  plantain

mbiaka = corn, maize

mbeshort form for brother

mgbe  =  bone, oyster

ngọ = wealth 

ngolo = whelk

ngei = one

ngia = game for kalabari boys





Letter                  Transcription

gb                         not in English, but as gbin = throw, in Kalabari 

kp                         not in English, but as kpo = group, in Kalabari




aị  as in kaịn = to pluck

ọị  as in fọịtẹ = roasted

oi as in igoin = poverty

ẹị  as in pẹị =  eat (fish, meat)




Study List  


 Diacritical Marks