Go back to the Articles page


Lucumí Vocabulary


Lucumí or Lacumí is the Yoruba language as it is spoken in Cuba and the United States. Yoruba is a tonal language like Chinese. The accents serve to approximate the tones for those of us who aren't familiar with tonal language. Also, some of the difficult sounds like the african "p" sound which is pronounced as kind of a "kp" sound is approximated using "kp" or "cu". This vocabulary follows the Spanish orthography with a few exceptions to help English speakers:

I should note here that Lacumí is an oral tradition and that the written versions were meant to be more "cheat sheets" than anything else and should not be used as "proof" of the decomposition of the language. Lakumí speakers in Matanzas and other areas speak very much as any Yoruba speaker would. I have spoken with Nigerian born Yoruba speakers in Lacumí without any difficulty whatsoever. In fact, on one occasion I was greeted with a very surprised "you speak Yoruba!!!" from the astonished Yoruba man I was speaking with.

Here are a few words in Lucumí to get you started: