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Ch'ol Maya Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

The following charts show the pronunciation for the Ch'ol 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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Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: How To Pronounce It:
a  aa, ā  a Like the a in father.
ä  ö, i, , y  i ~ ə This sound does not exist in English. It sounds like the i in police only pronounced 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. Some speakers pronounce it more like the a in about.
e  ee, ē, ĕ  e Like the Spanish e, similar to the a in English gate.
i  y, ii, ij, ī, ĭ  i Like the i in police.
o  oo, ō  o Like the o in note.
u  v, uu, ü, ū, ŭ u Like the u in flute.

Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: How To Pronounce It:
ay ai  aj Like English eye.
ey ei  ej Like ey in English they.
oy oi  oj Like oy in English boy.
uy ui  uj like the uoy in English buoy.

Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: How To Pronounce It:
b  b'  b ~ б Like b in boy. Many Maya speakers pronounce this sound implosively, as if they were 'swallowing' the b sound, similar to the way b is pronounced in Vietnamese.
c  k, qu  k As in the Spanish alphabet (from which the Ch'ol alphabet was adapted), both qu and c can represent the k sound in English key.
c'  k', q'u, qu', , 'c   Like c, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
ch  tch, tsch  t Like ch in chair.
ch'  tsch'  t Like ch, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
j  h  h Like h in hay.
k  q  q Like k only pronounced further back in the throat. This is the same sound as the q in Arabic.
k'  q',   Like q, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
l    l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
ñ  ny  ny Like ny in canyon.
p    p Like the p in pie.
p'     Like p, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
qu  k, c  k As in the Spanish alphabet (from which the Ch'ol alphabet was adapted), both qu and c can represent the k sound in English key.
q'u  k', qu', c',   Like qu, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
r     Like Spanish r, somewhat like the tt in English butter.
s  z, ç  s Like the s in sun.
t    t Like the t in tell.
t'  , th   Like t, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
tz  ts, c, ¢  ts Like ts in cats.
tz'  ts', , ¢', 'tz, z'  t Like ts, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
w  hu, v, u, vu, gu  w Like w in way.
x  š, sh, sch   Like sh in shell.
y  ll  j Like y in yes.
    A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Chol Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Ch'ol words
   Chol animals
   Ch'ol body words
   Ch'ol colors
   Chol numbers
   Mayan language family
   Mexico's Indian tribes

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