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Arikara Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

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

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Arikara pronunciation:
a     ~ a Like the a in what or the a in father.
aa    a Like the a in father, only held longer.
e    ε Like the e in get.
ee    e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in gate.
i    I Like the i in hit.
ii    i Like the ea in heat.
u    u Like the u in flute.
uu    u Like the u in flute, only held longer.

Arikara Consonants

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Arikara pronunciation:
č  ĉ, ch, c  t Like ch in chair.
h    h Like h in heart.
k    k Like k in skate.
n    n Like n in night.
p    p Like p in spill.
r     Like the r in Spanish pero, somewhat like the tt in American English butter.
s    s Like s in sing.
š  ŝ, sh   Like sh in shell.
t    t Like t in sty.
ts    ts Like the ts in tsunami.
w   w Like w in way.
x  ch, kh  x Guttural sound that doesn't exist in English. Like ch in German ach.
    A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Arikara Tone

Arikara is a tone language. Some Arikara 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 Arikara, such high and low tones are used in nearly every word, giving the language a lively sound. High tones are marked with an acute accent in Arikara, so that the word for elk, wáh, is pronounced with a high tone, but the word for turtle, sax, is pronounced with a low tone.

Using the wrong tone almost never changes the meaning of a word in Arikara. People will still be able to understand you if you make a mistake with tone. Your accent will just sound bad.

Arikara Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Arikara Language Narratives (Amazon affiliate link)
   Arikara words
   Ree Indians
   Arikara picture dictionary
   Caddoan language family
   Plains Indian culture area
   Native Americans of North Dakota

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