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Algonquin Pronunciation and Spelling Guide (Algonkin)

Welcome to our Algonquin alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciations for the Algonquin orthography we have used on our site, as well as some alternate spellings that you may find in other books and websites. You may also like to visit our Algonquian languages homepage to see how Algonquin relates to other languages from the Algonquian family.

Algonquin Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Algonquin pronunciation:
a     Like the a in what.
à  á, aa  a Like the a in father.
e    e ~ ε Like the a in gate or the e in red.
è  é, ee  e Like a in pay.
i    I Like the i in pit.
ì  í, ii  i Like the ee in seed.
o  u Like the u in put.
ò  ó, oo o Like the o in lone.

Algonquin Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Algonquin pronunciation:
aw    aw Like ow in English cow.
ay    aj Like English eye.
ew    ew This sound doesn't really exist in English. It sounds a little like saying the "AO" from "AOL" quickly.
ey    ej Like the ay in hay.
iw    iw Like a child saying ew!
ow    ow Like the ow in show.

Algonquin Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Algonquin pronunciation:
b    b Like b in bill.
ch  č  t Like ch in chair.
d    d Like d in die.
dj    d Like j in jar.
g    g Like g in gate.
h    h~ Like h in hay, or like the glottal stop in the middle of uh-oh.
j  zh, ž   Like the ge sound at the end of mirage.
k    kh~k Like k in key or ski (see Soft Consonants, below.).
m    m Like m in English moon.
n    n Like n in English night.
p    ph~p Like p in pin or spin (see Soft Consonants, below.)
s    s Like s in see.
sh  c, š   Like sh in shy.
t    th~t Like t in take or stake (see Soft Consonants, below.)
w   w Like w in English way.
y    j Like y in English yes.
z    z Like z in zoo.

Algonquin Soft Consonants

The Algonquin pronunciation of the consonants p, t and k is unaspirated between two vowels or after an m or n. To English speakers, this makes the consonants sound soft. You can hear unaspirated consonants in English after the letter s, such as the k in skate or the t in stir. If you put your fingers in front of your mouth as you pronounce kate and skate, you will see that there is no puff of air as you pronounce the unaspirated k in skate. Algonquin "soft" consonants are pronounced the same way. So

kìjig (day) is pronounced [khi:Ig], with a hard k, but

anokì kìjig (working day) is pronounced [noki: ki:Ig], with two soft k's.

Algonquin Nasal Vowels

Nasal vowels don't exist in English, but you may be familiar with them from French (or from hearing people speak English with a French accent.) They are pronounced just like oral ("regular") vowels, only using your nose as well as your mouth. To English speakers, a nasal vowel often sounds like a vowel with a half-pronounced "n" at the end of it. You can hear examples of nasal vowels at the end of the French words "bon" and "Jean," or in the middle of the word "Français."

In Algonquin pronunciation, vowels automatically become nasal before nd, ng, nj or nz. For example, kìgònz is pronounced [ki:gõ:z], not [ki:go:nz]. Those nasal vowels are a normal part of a native speaker's accent--like English speakers automatically pronouncing the letter "l" differently at the beginning and end of a word--so they are not written. Unlike in Ojibwe, nasal vowels do not occur anywhere else in a word.

Algonquin Stress

Word stress in Algonquin is regular, but it's very complicated. If you divide each word into iambic feet, counting long vowels (à, e, ì, and ò) as an entire foot, then the stress is usually on the strong syllable of the third from last foot--which, in words that are five syllables long or less, usually translates in practical terms to the first syllable (if it has a long vowel) or the second syllable (if it doesn't.) Then the strong syllables of the other feet each have a secondary stress.

So for example (marking primary stress in blue and secondary stress in red):

nibi
sìbi
mikizi
nànomidana


That description is an oversimplification, however-- here is a link to a webpage about some of the intricacies of the Algonquin stress system.

Algonquin Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Algonquin Indian words
   Algonquin picture dictionary
   Algonquin body
   Alqonquin colors
   Alqonquin numbers
   Algonquians
   Eastern Woodland languages
   Native Americans of Quebec
   Algonquin legends



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