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Arapaho Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Arapaho alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the Arapaho 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 homepage to see how Arapaho relates to other languages from the Algonquian family.

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Arapaho Vowels

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Arapaho pronunciation:
e    ε Like the e in bed.
ee  e:  ε ~ æ Similar to the a in bad, only held longer.
i    I Like the i in sick.
ii  i:  i Like the ee in seek, only held longer.
o  a Like the au in caught.
oo  o:, a: Like the au in caught, only held longer.
u   Like the u in put.
uu  u: u Like the u in flute, only held longer.

Arapaho Diphthongs

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Arapaho pronunciation:
ei  ey  ej Like ay in English say.
oe ai, ay  aj Like English eye.
ou o  ow Like ow in English show.

Arapaho Consonants

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Arapaho pronunciation:
b  p  p ~ b Like the p in spill or b in bill (see Voicing, below.)
c  ch, č, j  t ~ d Like ch in char or j in jar (see Voicing, below.)
h    h Like h in hay.
k  g  k ~ g Like the k in skate or g in gate (see Voicing, below.)
n    n Like n in English night.
s    s Like s in English sing.
t  d  t ~ d Like the t in sty or d in die (see Voicing, below.)
w   w Like w in English way.
x  ch, kh  x Guttural sound that doesn't exist in English. The Arapaho pronuncation sounds like the ch in German ach.
y    j Like y in English yes.
 ?,   A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."
3  θ, th  θ Like th in English think.

Arapaho Consonant Voicing and Aspiration

The Arapaho pronunciation of the consonants b, k, and t is unaspirated (pronounced without a breath of air). The Arapaho letter k, for example, is always pronounced like the soft "k" in the English word "skill" rather than the hard "k" in the English word "kill." (If you're uncertain about the difference, place your fingers in front of your mouth and say "kill," then "skill." You can feel more air puffing out of your mouth with the aspirated "k" in "kill" than the unaspirated "k" in "skill.") English k is sometimes aspirated and sometimes not, but Arapaho k never is.

Just the opposite from English, Arapaho consonants are sometimes voiced (pronounced with the vocal chords vibrating) and other times unvoiced. (You can feel the difference in English by placing your fingers on your voicebox and pronouncing the words "kill" and "gill.") Arapaho k is sometimes voiced and sometimes not, but English k never is.

In general, the Arapaho stops are pronounced [p], [k], and [t] at the end of a word or before a glottal stop or other consonant sound, and they are pronounced [b], [g], and [d] before a vowel. Different Arapaho speakers may pronounce the same word with a different degree of voicing, however.

Arapaho Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Arapaho Language Book (Amazon affiliate link)
   Arapaho words
   Arapaho picture dictionary
   The Arapaho alphabet
   Algonquian cultures
   Plains Indians language
   Native Americans of Colorado

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