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Amuzgo Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

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


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Amuzgo Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Amuzgo pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
e    e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in gate.
ë    ε Like the e in get.
i    i Like the i in police.
o    o Like the o in note.
ö     Like the o in cloth or the aw in saw.
u   u Like the u in flute.

Amuzgo 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, ą  ã
en  ẽ, ę  ẽ
ën    
on  õ,  õ
ön    

Amuzgo Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Amuzgo pronunciation:
b    b Like the b in boy.
ch  ch  t Like ch in chair.
d    d Like the d in day.
dy    dy Similar to d and y pronounced together.
g    g Like the g in gate.
j    h Like h in hay.
k  c, qu  k Like the k in key.
kw  cu kw ~ kw Like qu in English queen.
l    l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
ñ    ny Like Spanish ñ, somewhat like ny in canyon.
p    p Like the p in pie.
r     Like the r in Spanish pero, somewhat like the tt in American English butter.
rr    r Trilled r sound like the rr in Spanish perro.
s  z, c  s Like the s in sun.
t    t Like the t in tell.
ty    ty Similar to t and y pronounced together.
tz  ts  ts Like ts in cats.
w  hu  w Like w in way.
x  sh   Like sh in shell.
y    j Like y in yes.
    A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Amuzgo Tones

Amuzgo 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 Amuzgo, such high and low tones are used in nearly every word, giving the language a lively sound.

Technically, there are eight different tones in Amuzgo: low, medium, high, low rising, medium falling, medium slightly rising, medium steeply rising, and high falling. The nasal consonants, n, m, and ñ, can also carry their own tone. For the most part, it is simply necessary to learn the tones of each word when you learn that word, similar to learning the stress of an English word. However, the orthography we are using includes some clues to help you: an acute accent over a vowel, like á, indicates a high tone. A grave accent over a vowel, like à, indicates a low tone. A circumflex accent over a vowel, like â, indicates a medium falling tone. And a double nasal consonant, like nn, indicates that the nasal consonant bears a tone. These are the most important pieces of tonal information, and the ones most likely to cause a misunderstanding. However, there are still some words that are written the same but pronounced differently-- for example, ndu means "why" when it is pronounced with medium tone steeply rising, but means "flute" when it is pronounced with medium tone remaining flat.

Amuzgo Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Amuzgo words
   Amuzgo numbers
   Amuzgo picture dictionary
   Oto-Manguean languages
   Mesoamerican Indian languages
   Native Americans of Mexico

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