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Amahuaca Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Amahuaca alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the Amahuaca orthography we have used on our site, as well as some alternate spellings that you may find in other books and websites.

Amahuaca Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Amahuaca pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
aa  a:  a Like a only held longer.
i    i ~ y Like the i in police. Often it is pronounced with rounded lips, like German ü.
ii  i:  i~y Like i only held longer.
o    o ~ u Like the o in note or u in flute.
oo  o:  o~u Like o only held longer.
u  y, i, ï i This sound does not exist in English. It sounds like the i in police only pronounced further back in the mouth. If you've ever heard a Slavic language like Russian or Polish being spoken, it is the same "dark i" sound from those languages.
uu  u:, ii, yy, ïï  i Like u only held longer.

Amahuaca 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."

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
an  ã ã
in  ĩ ĩ
on  õ õ
un  ũ ĩ

Amahuaca Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Amahuaca pronunciation:
c  k, qu  k ~ g As in the Spanish alphabet (from which the Amahuaca alphabet was adapted), both qu and c can represent the k sound in English key.
ch  č  t Like ch in chair.
h  ’   A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."
j  h  h Like h in hay.
m  mb  m ~ mb Like m in moon. Sometimes it sounds more like the mb in ember.
n    n ~ nd Like n in night. Sometimes it sounds more like the nd in under.
p    p Like the p in pie.
qu  k, c  k As in the Spanish alphabet (from which the Amahuaca alphabet was adapted), both qu and c can represent the k sound in English key.
r     Like the r in Spanish pero, somewhat like the tt in American English butter.
s    s Like s in sun.
sh  x, š   Like sh in shell.
t    t Like t in tie.
tz  ts  ts ~ tθ Like ts in cats. Sometimes it is pronounced more like a combination of English t and th.
v  hu, w  w ~ β Like w in way. Sometimes if is pronounced more like the bilabial v sound in Spanish navidad.
x  shr  ʂ This sound does not exist in English or Spanish. It is a retroflex s sound like the sz of Polish.
y    j Like y in yes.
z  s, th  s ~ θ Like s in sing or th in thing.

Amahuaca Tones

Amahuaca is a tone language. Some syllables are pronounced with higher pitch than others. In English, the last syllable of a question is pronounced with high pitch, so you can hear the difference between sentences like "You see a man." and "You see a man?" In Amahuaca, such high and low tones are used in nearly every word, giving the language a lively sound.

There are two tones in Amahuaca, high tone and low tone. High tones are usually marked with an acute accent, like this:

a low tone
á high tone

Amahuaca Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Amahuaca words
   Amahuaca picture dictionary
   Amahuaca numbers
   The Panoans
   South American Indian Languages



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