Urhobo language is both complex and beautiful. There are thirty six (36) alphabets; 7 vowels; 18 Consonants; 10 Compound Consonants and 1 Complex Consonant.
VOWELS : There are Seven vowels in the Urhobo alphabets –A E Ẹ I O Ọ U, 2 more than the English alphabets. You notice the Ẹ Ọ which are the additional vowels and they a very distinct usage in the Urhobo language.
A a = “ah” like the sound of “a” in bat or cat in English; E e = “eh” like the sound of “e” in eight or the letter “a” in English
Ẹ ẹ = “err” like the sound of “e” in bed or get or err in English; I i = “ee” like the sound of “ee” in heel or feet in English
O o = “oh” like the sound of “o” in owe or go or the letter “o” in English; Ọ ọ = “or” like the sound of “or” in for or the word “or” in English; U u = “oo” like the sound of “oo” in school or book or bull in English
There eighteen are the simple consonants. You will notice that compared to the English alphabets, Urhobo does not have the ‘C’ ‘Q’ and the ‘X’.
There are ten compound consonants. Each consists of a combination of two simple consonants which give rise to a pronunciation that each individual letter is not capable of achieving or sounding. There is one complex consonant. This is like the compound consonants except that it is a combination of three letters.
Pronunciations and examples:
A = ame (water) B = buebu ( plenty ) CH = choma (be prepared) D = da (drink) DJ = dje̖ ( run ) E = esi ( pig ) E̖ = e̖be ( book or leaf ) F = fa (flog) G = grogró ( tall /long )̖ GB = gbiku ( tell a story ) GH = gho̖gho̖ ( rejoice ) GHW = ghwoghwo (announce) H = ho̖ ( bath ) HW = hwahwá (narrow) I = igho (money) J = jovwo (discontinue) or JE̖ URHOBO (speak Urhobo) K = karoho̖ (remember) KP = kpo (go home) L = Po̖lo̖ko̖ ( an Urhobo name) M = mo̖ ( come ) N = no̖ (ask) O = oro (gold) Ọ = o̖mo̖ (child) P = ipọtọ́ ( button) PH = uphoro (feather) R = roro (think ) RH = rha (fly) S = se (call) SH = she (fall) T = ta (say) U = úko (back) V = ve (haggle the price) VW = vwo (jump) W = we̖ (you) Y = yan ( walk ) Z = zighizighi (rough/ disorganised)