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Atakapa Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

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

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Atakapa pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
ā  a, aa  a Like the a in father, only held longer.
ă  a, ä  æ Like the a in cat.
 a, v  ə Like the a in about.
e    e Like Spanish e, somewhat like the a in Kate.
ē  e, ee  e Like the a in Kate, only held longer.
i    i ~  I Like the i in police or the i in pit.
ī  i, ii  i Like the i in police, only held longer.
o    o Like the o in note.
ō  o, oo  o Like the o in note, only held longer.
u    u Like the u in flute.

Atakapa 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."

Note that before the consonant sound ñ, vowels are always nasalized.
We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
an    ã
in    ĩ
on    õ
un    ũ

Atakapa Consonants

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Atakapa pronunciation:
b    b Like b in boy.
c  sh   Like sh in shell.
d    d Like d in day.
dz  ds, dc  dz Like ds in Edsel.
g    g Like g in girl.
h    h Like h in hay.
j  zh   Like the ge at the end of garage.
k    kh Like k in kite.
l    l Like l in light.
ł  tl, 'l  ł This sound is a lateral fricative that doesn't really exist in English. It 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.
ñ     Like ng in sing.
p    ph Like p in pie.
s    s Like s in see.
t    th Like t in tie.
ts  tc  ts Like ts in cats.
w   w Like w in way.
x  'h x Raspy sound like the j in Spanish jalapeño or the ch in German ach.
 X X Like x only further back in the throat. It sounds a little like the way some French speakers pronounce their r's.
y    j Like y in yes.
    A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Atakapa Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Dictionary of the Atakapa Language (Amazon affiliate link)
   Atakapa Indian words
   Atakapa picture dictionary
   Atakapa body words
   Gulf languages
   Culture of the Southeast region
   Native Americans in Louisiana

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