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Nsibiri + akagu question

"I REALLY want to start becoming literate in this and writing in Nsibiri. The alphabet is however confusing and i'm not sure how to use it to write out sentences in Igbo. Can you do a demonstration for those of us who want to learn, on how to start writing in Nsibiri and incorporating it into our daily lives."


Thanks for your inquiry. I'm going to try to make this as simple as possible. First a quick explanation. The akagu script is used to write most Igbo words while nsibiri is used to differentiate homonyms. There's an issue with tones in Latin writing, which makes many of the words useless to even experienced Igbo speakers.

The nsibiri characters come into a paragraph whenever there is need to specify a particular word in Igbo. In other words, whenever you are writing in akagu, when you encounter a word that has several meanings in Igbo, you use the nsibiri character specifically dedicated to that word.

For example let's say [char. 1] means one character, then 2, 3, and 4 mean 3 distinct nsibiri characters, and the Latin writing in the example would be in akagu.

Ex. ákwà = [char. 1]; àkwá = [char. 2]; ákwá [char. 3]; àkwà = [char. 4]

Sentence: Ọ nè bé [char. 3] nà élú [char. 4] mmiri màkà [char. 2] kụ̀wàrà nà élú [char. 1] ya.

Akagu has a quick handed version (áká ọsọ) which is used for Igbo and the normal akagu which is used for foreign words or names. There is also akagu ligatures which are the most common joined letters such as hny for ihnye ('the', or 'thing').

There is a difference between a m/n with one beat (like mụ, nụ) and two beats (mma, nnú) which have different characters. There is tone on all of these characters including a, e, i, o, u. The tones indicate high, low, high/low-ɒ, high/low-ɛ, high/low-ɪ, high/low-æ, high/low-ʊ. There are also a diacritic for a held tone for each vowel.

The Igbo language eliminates some vowels so akagu has superscript for the elided vowel. The ligatures can also be used.

1. is a full áká agụ sentence, 2. is nsibiri, 3. is a normal sentence. They all say the same thing.

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This blog is about African writing, the nsibidi script. This website include many nsibidi symbols meaning a lot of different things. All images do not hold a copyright unless indicated so. You can copy, distribute, and sell any information/images you find on this website. Public Domain.