Tongan consists of
5 vowels: a, e, i, o, u
12 consonants: p, t, k, m, n, ng, f, v, s, h, l, ‘
The consonants p, t, k sound voiced to English speakers.
Unlike English, Tongan words can commence with ng.
The ‘ is phonemic as can be seen in the following Tongan words:
- la’a = sun vs. laa = sail
- tu’i = king vs. tui = believe in God
- ‘ivi = Eve vs. ivi = energy
- malo e lelei (hello)
- malo (thank you)
- ‘alu ā (goodbye, if you are staying)
- nofo ā (goodbye, if you are leaving)