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Apache Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Apache alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the Apache 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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Apache Vowels

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Apache pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
aa  a  a Like a only held longer.
e    ε Like the e in bet.
ee  e  ε ~ e Like e only held longer. In some dialects this sound is pronounced more like the e in they.
i    i Like the i in police.
ii  i  i Like i only held longer.
o   o Like the o in note.
oo  o o Like o only held longer.
u   u Like the u in flute.

Apache Nasal Vowels

Nasal vowels don't really 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."

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
ą  â, ã, an  ã
ę  ê, ẽ, en  ẽ
į  î, ĩ, in  ĩ
Ǫ  ô, õ, on  õ
ų  û, ũ, un  ũ

Apache Consonants

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Apache pronunciation:
b  p  b Like b in boy.
ch  č  t Like ch in child.
ch'    t Like ch, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
d  t  d Like d in day.
dl    dł Somewhat like the dle in ladle.
dz  ds  dz Like ds in Edsel.
g  k  g Like g in girl.
gh    γ Like the g in the Spanish word saguaro. It sounds like the "ch" sound in German words like "ach," only voiced.
h    h Like h in English hay.
hw    hw Soft sound like blowing out a candle.
j    d Like j in jar.
k  c, q  kh Like k in king.
k'     Like k, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
l    l Like l in light.
ł  hl, lh, £, /  ł This sound is a lateral fricative that doesn't really exist in English. The Apache pronunciation sounds like the "ll" in the Welsh name "Llewellyn." Some English speakers can pronounce it well if they try to pronounce the "breathy l" in the word clue without the c in front of it.
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
s    s Like s in sing.
sh  š   Like sh in shy.
t    th Like t in till.
t'     Like t, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
 tl  tł Somewhat like the tle in bottle.
tł'  t  t Like only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
ts  c  ts Like ts in tsunami.
ts'  t  t Like ts, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
w   w Like w in way.
y    j Like y in yes.
z    z Like z in zoo.
zh  ž   Like the ge in garage.
 ?, h   A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Apache Tone

Apache is a tone language. Some Apache 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 Apache, such high and low tones are used in nearly every word, giving the language a lively sound.

There are two main Apache tones: high and low. The tones are usually written like this:

á high tone
a low tone

Apache Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Jicarilla Apache textbook (Amazon affiliate link)
   Apache words
   Apache picture dictionary
   Apache body words
   Apache colors
   Apache numbers
   Southern Athabaskan languages
   Southwestern languages

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Learn more about the Apache Indian tribes.
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