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Cabecar Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

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

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Cabecar pronunciation:
a    a ~ ə Like the a in father. Sometimes, especially in the beginning of a word, it is pronounced more like the a in about.
e    e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in gate.
ë  ä  I Like the i in bit.
i    i Like the i in police.
o    o Like the o in note.
ö     Like the oo in book.
u    u Like the u in flute.

Cabecar 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."

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
a  ã ã
e  ẽ
i  ĩ ĩ
o  õ õ
u  ũ ũ

Cabecar Consonants

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Cabecar pronunciation:
b    b Like b in boy.
ch  č  t Like ch in chair.
d    d Like the d in day.
g  k  g Like the g in girl.
j  h, ’  h ~ x Like h in hay. Sometimes it is pronounced more like the raspy j in the Spanish word jalapeño.
k  c, qu  k Like the soft k in ski.
kj  kh, k, c, qu  kh Like the hard k in key.
l  r   Similar to the ll in English bellow, only pronounced 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.
ñ    ñ Like ny in canyon.
 ng  ŋ Like the ng in sing.
p    p Like the soft p in spin.
pj  ph, p  ph Like the hard p in pin.
r     Like the r in Spanish pero, somewhat like the tt in American English butter.
rr  r  r Like the rolling rr in Spanish perro.
s    s ~ z Like s in sun. Sometimes it sounds more like the z in zoo.
sh  x   Like sh in shell.
t    t Like the soft t in star.
tj  th, t  th Like the hard t in tar.
tk  kt  tk This is a coarticulated sound that does not exist in English. It is actually a k and t pronounced simultaneously.
ts  tz  ts Like the ts in cats.
y  ll, j  d Like j in jar.

Cabecar Tones

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

There are two tones in Cabecar, high tone and low tone. High tones are marked with an acute accent, like this:

a low tone
á high tone

Cabecar Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Cabecar-Spanish dictionary (Amazon affiliate link)
   Cabecar Indian words
   Cabecar picture dictionary
   Chibchan language
   Languages of Costa Rica

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