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Beaver Pronunciation and Spelling Guide (Dunne-za)

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

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Beaver pronunciation:
a  , û   Like the a in what.
aa  a, o  a Like the a in father.
e    e Like Spanish e, similar to the a in English gate.
ea  ae, æ  æ Like the a in bad.
i  ı  I Like the i in sick.
ii  i, ī  i Like the ee in see.
o  ō, oo o Like the o in note.
u  υ Like the u in put.
uu  u, ū u Like the u in flute.

Beaver Nasal Vowels

Nasal vowels don't really 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."

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
ąą  ą  ã
ę    ẽ
Ǫ    õ

Beaver Consonants

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Beaver pronunciation:
b    b ~ p Like b in bill or the soft p in spill .
ch  č, c, tc  t Like ch in chair.
ch'    t Like ch, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
d    d ~ t Like d in day or the soft t in stay.
dl    dł Somewhat like the dle in ladle.
dz  ds  dz Like ds in Edsel.
g    g ~ k Like g in gate or the soft k in skate.
gh  g, γ  γ Like the g in the Spanish word saguaro. It sounds like the "ch" sound in German words like "ach," only voiced.
h  x  h ~ x Like h in English hay. Sometimes it is pronounced more raspily, like the ch in German ach.
j  dzh, dj  d Like the j in jar.
k    kh Like k in kill.
k'     Like k, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
l    l Like l in light.
lh  ł  ł This sound is a lateral fricative that doesn't really exist in English. The Beaver pronunciation 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. This sound doesn't exist in most Beaver dialects.
n    n Like n in night.
ng  ñ  ŋ Like ng in sing.
s    s Like s in sing.
sh  š, c   Like sh in shy.
t    th Like t in till.
t'     Like t, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
tl    tł Somewhat like the tle in bottle.
tl'  t  t Like tl only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
ts    ts Like ts in tsunami.
ts'  t  t Like ts, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
w   w Like w in way.
y    j Like y in yes.
z  z  z Like z in zoo.
zh  j   Like the ge in garage.
 ʔ, ?   A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Beaver Tone

Beaver is a tone language. Some Beaver 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 Beaver, such high and low tones are used in nearly every word, giving the language a lively sound.

There are four main Beaver tones: high, low, rising (starts low and becomes high) and falling (starts high and becomes low.) The tones are usually written like this:

á high tone
a low tone
ă rising tone
â falling tone

Beaver Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   A Vocabulary of the Beaver Indian Language
   Beaver words
   Beaver animal words
   Beaver body parts
   Athapaskan languages
   Subarctic Indians
   Alberta First Nations reserves
   Beaver stories

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