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Aruan Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Aruan alphabet page! There have not been fluent speakers of Aruan since the nineteenth century. Our Aruan language materials were taken from an 1879 wordlist by Domingos Soares Ferreira Penna. Because the language has been extinct for so long, the correct pronunciation of these words is not exactly known. However, Ferreira Penna was a Portuguese speaker and his spelling system is Portuguese-based, which can cause a lot of confusion for English speakers ("nh" in these words is pronounced like the "nh" in Portuguese, for example, which sounds like "ny" in English; pronouncing it like the "nh" in "manhole" would be incorrect.) So here is a rough pronunciation guide to Ferreira Penna's orthography for readers who aren't familiar with the Portuguese language.

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Aruan Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Aruan pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
e    ε Like the e in get.
êu  eu, œ, ö ø ~ œ Ferreira Penna described the œ in his orthography as a "German o" and the êu in his orthography as the "French eu." It's unclear what distinction he was trying to make here, since German ö (as in schön) and French eu (as in bleu) are pronounced identically.
ey    e ~ ei Like the a in gate.
êy    e ~ ei Like ey only held longer.
i    i Like the i in police.
o     ~ o Like an unstressed Portuguese o, similar to the oo in look. It's also possible that this was a short o sound while ô was a long o sound, since vowel length is distinctive in most Arawakan languages.
ô    o ~ o Like the o in note. It's also possible that this was a long o sound while o was a short o sound, since vowel length is distinctive in most Arawakan languages.
œ  ö, êu, eu ø ~ œ Ferreira Penna described the œ in his orthography as a "German o" and the êu in his orthography as the "French eu." It's unclear what distinction he was trying to make here, since German ö (as in schön) and French eu (as in bleu) are pronounced identically.
u   u Like the u in flute. Ferreira Penna also used the letter u for the consonant sound w as in way.
ü   y Ferreira Penna described this as a "German u." Probably he meant the sound in German words like grün, which is pronounced like the u in flute only further forward in the mouth.
y  ü i Ferreira Penna described this as a "short e" sound. It was probably an unrounded central vowel, a common sound in Arawakan languages, since unstressed e sounds in European Portuguese make a similar sound. This vowel is pronounced like the i in police only 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. Ferreira Penna also used the letter y for the consonant y as in yes.

Aruan Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Aruan pronunciation:
b    b Like b in boy.
c  s, k, qu  s ~ k As in the Portuguese alphabet, c represents both a 'hard c' (as in cold) and a 'soft c' (as in city). It is pronounced hard before a, o, or u and soft before e or i.
ç  s, c, ss  s As in the Portuguese alphabet, s, c, and ç can all represent the s sound in English sun.
ch  x   Like sh in shell.
d    d Like d in day.
f    f ~ Φ Like f in far. This may actually have been a bilabial fricative instead, like the puffing "f" of the Japanese word "Fuji," since that is a more typical sound of Arawakan languages.
g    g Like g in girl.
j    x Ferreira Penna described this sound as a "guttural Spanish j," so it is probably a raspy sound like the j as in jalapeño.
k  c, qu  k Like k in key. Ferreira Penna seems to use this letter interchangeably with c.
l     Ferreira Penna described this sound as a combination between Portuguese "l" and "r." Probably that means it is a lateral flap, a common sound in Arawakan languages. A lateral flap is pronounced similar to the ll in English bellow, only more quickly (so that the tongue only flaps once against the top of the mouth.)
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
nh    ny Like ny in canyon.
p    p Like the p in pie.
qu  k, c  k As in the Portuguese alphabet, both qu and c can represent the k sound in English key.
r  rr  r Ferreira Penna said the Aruan "r" usually sounded like a Portuguese "rr," which is a rolling r sound like the one in Spanish arriba.
s  ss, c, ç  s As in the Portuguese alphabet, s, c, and ç can all represent the s sound in English sun.
t    t Like the t in tell.
u    w Like w in way. Ferreira Penna also used the letter u for the vowel sound of u in flute.
x  ch   Like sh in shell. Ferreira Penna seems to use this letter interchangeably with ch.
y    j Like y in yes. Ferreira Penna also used the letter y for a vowel sound similar to the i in police only further back in the throat.

Aruan Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Languages of the Amazon
   Aruan Indian words
   Aruan picture dictionary
   Arawak language
   Languages of Brazil

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