Pronunciation and the Alphabet in Esperanto
It’s very easy to learn to read, write and pronounce Esperanto correctly, even if you still don’t understand that much. The secret lies in three simple rules:
- The second last syllable of a word is stressed.
- There is only one way to pronounce each letter.
- For each sound there is, therefore, only one letter.
Pronunciation isn’t as easy in other languages. Take a minute to think about words the end with -ough in English e.g. enough/cough/dough, they are all pronounced differently. What about the verb live and the adjective live spelt the same but pronounced differently and with two different meanings. English is full of little hurdles which make correct pronunciation very tricky. Luckily, we’re here to learn Esperanto – not English.
Most of the letters in Esperanto have an English equivalent. Many letters are pronounced the same as or similarly to English. The vowels in Esperanto have a medium length and there are no long and short vowel sounds.
It might take some time get used to letters like ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, s, ŝ, ŭ because we don’t have them in English. There are, however, corresponding sounds in English, so pronouncing these letter shouldn’t be problematic. Use the notes below to help you.
|At the beginning||In the middle|
|a||amikofriend||katocat||like aunt, father|
|b||baloball||robodress||like ball, rabbit|
|c||cirklocircle||biciklobicycle||like tsunami, hats|
|ĉ||ĉerizocherry||aĉetibuy||like cherry, merchant|
|d||dirisay||odoroodour||like danger, address
|e||elefantoelephant||legiread||like elephant, belt
|f||florofeather||kafocoffee||like feather, coffee|
|g||glasoglass||pagipay||like guest, bargain|
|ĝ||ĝardenogarden||seĝochair||like gentleman, apologetic|
|h||hodiaŭtoday||BahamojBahamas||like happy, Bahamas|
|ĥ||ĥimerochimera||BaĥoName of the composer Bach||like Bach, Loch Ness|
|i||ideoidea||vidisee||like eat, see|
|j||jaroyear||fajrofire||like year, boy|
|ĵ||ĵetithrow||glaciaĵoice-cream||like measure, treasure|
|k||kukocake||helikosnail||like kick, cake|
|l||lampolamp||salatosalad||like lamp, salad|
|m||muzikomusic||kamelocamel||like music, camel|
|n||nazonose||panobread||like nose, hundred|
|o||okuloeye||fornooven||like ocean, soda|
|p||pomoapple||hipopotamohippopatamus||like parrot, speak|
|s||serpentosnake||kolbasosausage||like snake, sausage|
|ŝ||ŝrankocupboard||kuŝilie/lay||like shoe, fish|
|t||tomatotomato||patrinomother||like tomato, storm
|u||urbocity||turotower||like moon, noon|
|ŭ||–||baldaŭ, Eŭroposoon , Europe||like cow
|v||vintrowinter||lingvolanguage||like vacuum, advice|
|z||zipozip||rozorose||like zip, rose|
Pronunciation Tips for English Speakers
In English, we often combine vowels and consonants to create different sounds. This is not the case in Esperanto and it’s important to keep in mind that each consonant and each vowel is pronounced individually. Don’t forget that the word stress (or accent) always falls on the second last syllable.
|vangocheek||like en-gage (not like sing)|
|kreicreate||like re-invest (not like receive)
|bierobeer||like bi-ennale (not like friend)|
|aliaother||like Mari-a (stressed on the second last syllable; not like facial)|
|kuirirun||like flu-id (not like suit)|
|maizomaize||like Dada-ism (not like tail)|
|nacionation||like chari-ot (not like nation)|