A diphthong is the combination of a weak and a strong vowel becoming one sound. In Zarma three vowels are use to form diphthong with a consonant:  "a", "e", and "o". The consonants are "y" and "w".

The diphthongs are: ay aw ey oy

Diphthong Pronunciation Example
It may be long as the "i" in ice.

When short, it has no exact parallel in English. The "a" of it is the short "neutral" vowel as in sonata, combined with a short "y".
Must be learned by ear.

ay, kay, may

bay, way, day

like the "ou" in house, quit quickly.

In a few exceptions it is similar to the "ow" in row.

caw, jaw, haw


Is like the "ey" in hey! feym, dangey, ngey
Is generally to our ears, like the "uay" in quaver.

In a few rare words it is like the "oy" in boy

koy, foy, haggoy

boy, doy

Last updated: 28 december 2006