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Atikamekw Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Atikamekw alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the Atikamekw spellings we have used on our site -- which come from the official Atikamekw orthography -- as well as some alternate spellings that you may find in other books and websites.


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Atikamekw Vowels

As in other Algonquian languages, vowel length is phonemic in Atikamekw -- the difference between a short /o/ and a long /o:/ is important to the meaning of a word. However, the official Atikamekw orthography does not differentiate long and short vowels. An Atikamekw speaker simply must remember whether an "o" is pronounced short or long, just as an English speaker must remember that the "a" in "rather" is pronounced differently than the "a" in "father."

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Atikamekw pronunciation:
a     Like the a in what .
a  â, aa  a Like the a in father.
e  ê, ee  e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in gaze.
i   I Like the i in pit.
i  î, ii  i Like the i in police.
o  u o Like the o in open.
o  ô, oo o ~ u Like the o in note or the u in flute.

Atikamekw Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Attikamekw pronunciation:
aw    aw Like ow in English cow.
ai  ay  aj Almost like English eye.
ew    ew This sound doesn't really exist in English. It sounds a little like saying the "AO" from "AOL" quickly.
ei  ey  ej Like the ay in hay.
iw    iw~uw Like a child saying ew!, or like the oe in shoe.

Atikamekw Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Atikamekw pronunciation:
c  c, š, sh, zh   ~ Like sh in shy or ge in beige.
h    h Like h in English hay.
k  k, kk, g  k Like k in skate or g in gate.
kw   kw ~ kw Before a vowel it sounds like the qu in queen, but at the end of a word it sounds like a rounded k with a silent w.
m    m Like m in English moon.
n    n Like n in English night.
p  p, pp, b  p ~ b Like p in spin or b in bin.
r     Like Spanish r, or the tt in American English butter.
s  s, ss, z  s Like s in see or z in zoo.
t  t, tt, d  t ~ d Like t in sty or the d in die.
tc  ch, č, j t ~ d Like ch in chair or j in jar.
w   w Like w in English way.
i    j Like y in English yes.

Atikamekw Nasal Vowels

In Atikamekw, vowels that come after the letter h are always nasalized.

Atikamekw Dialect Variation

Atikamekw is closely related to Cree, and some people consider it to be a particularly divergent dialect of Cree. Some characteristic phonological features of Atikamekw are the existence of the approximant r, rounded sounds like kw, the use of long tense consonants, and differentiation between s and š.


˜Thanks to Bonnie Geleynse at Wactenamakan Translation Services for help with this page!

Atikamekw Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Atikamekw words
   Atikamekw picture dictionary
   Algonquian languages
   Northeast Woodlands culture area
   Tribes in Quebec

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