Pronouncing "ubuntu"

Paul O'Malley ompaul at
Thu Mar 2 10:45:24 UTC 2006

Duncan Anderson wrote:

>On Thursday, 2 March 2006 01:36, Alan McKinnon wrote:
>>So today was a sloooow day in Cape Town. When the sun wasn't shining
>>it was either raining, misty or blowing a gale force wind. And the
>>phone rang twice all day, but that's because today is a public
>>Seeing as the devil makes work for idle hands, Cape Town is probably
>>the spiritual home of Ubuntu, and I'm bored to tears at 01:33am, I
>>thought I'd liven up my life a bit and ask one simple innocent enough
>>How many people in the world-wide Ubuntu community can pronounce the
>>name correctly? (Tip: there's no "Y" sound in it)
>Well, if you want to get finicky about it, the proper pronunciation in 
>isiZulu, isiXhosa or SiSwati is "uˈɓu:ntu". If you don't have phonetic fonts 
>enabled, that may look a bit strange. I shall try to describe the "correct"  
>u - "oo" as in "look", but short, with a low tone
>bun - "boon" as in "boon", but long, with a low tone and no aspiration on the 
>ntu - "to" as in "to go", short, with a high tone, no aspiration on the "t"
>It is fiendishly difficult to convey the tonal qualities of Nguni languages 
>using a written medium. :-)
>Of course, "Ubuntu" as in "Ubuntu Linux" is no longer the same word (having 
>become a proper noun) as, quoting the dictionary on
>ubuntu [uˈɓu:ntu] (-ntu) n. humanity
>This definition is somewhat curt. The meaning is more like "human spirit" or 
>"the quality of being human/humane". It's a difficult word to translate.
>How's that for pedantic? ;-)
Hi Duncan,

not anywhere near pedantic enough, it needs more, in fact a lot more 
work, on sounder.

[ and it was said, he who stands up on a rock shall step down ... ]


Paul {troll for a day} O'Malley

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