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Guarani Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

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

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Guarani pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
e    e Like Spanish e, pronounced somewhat like the a in gate.
i    i Like the i in police.
o    o ~ Like the o in note. In some dialects the Guarani pronunciation sounds more like the au in caught.
u   u Like the u in flute.
y  ï, i  i 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.

Guarani 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."

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
ã  ą, añ ã
 ę, eñ
ĩ  į, iñ ĩ
õ  , oñ õ
ũ  ų, uñ ũ
 ĩ, ïñ ĩ

Guarani Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Guarani pronunciation:
au aw  aw Like ow in English cow.
ai ay  aj Like English eye.

Guarani Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Guarani pronunciation:
ch  sh, x   Like sh in shy.
h  j  x Raspy sound like the j in Spanish jalapeño.
j  ll   ~ d This is a plosive y sound that does not exist in English. It sounds like the y in yes only stronger, as if you were saying yyyy-es. If you have ever heard Hungarian spoken, it is the same sound as the Hungarian gy (as in Magyar.) Some Guarani speakers, especially younger speakers, prounounce this sound like the j in jar instead.
g    g Like the g in go.
 g  ŋ Like the ng in wing. Most Guarani speakers don't use this character, instead spelling this sound the same as a plain g.
k  c, qu  k Like the k in kite.
l    l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in moon.
mb    mb A prenasalized b sound, something like the b in umbrella.
n    n Like n in night.
nd    nd A prenasalized d sound, something like the d in under.
ng    ng A prenasalized g sound, something like the g in finger.
nt    nt A prenasalized t sound, something like the t in enter.
ñ    ny Like ny in canyon.
p    p Like the p in pie.
r     Like a Spanish r, similar to the tt in English butter.
s    s Like the s in see.
t    t Like the t in tell.
v    υ ~ β This is an approximant v sound that doesn't exist in English. If you've ever heard Scandinavian languages such as Norwegian, Danish or Finnish being spoken, it is the same v sound from those languages. It sounds like a cross between a v and a w to English speakers. Some younger Guarani speakers pronounce this sound like the bilabial Spanish v in navidad instead.
    A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Guarani Stress

Guarani has less pronounced word stress than English does. In English, unstressed vowels are often weakened to schwas, which makes the stress sound very strong. (An example of this is the word "rebel." When "rebel" is a noun, the stress is on the first syllable and the word is pronounced REH-bəl. When "rebel" is a verb, the stress is on the second syllable and the word is pronounced rə-BELL.) But in Guarani pronunciation, all vowels are pronounced fully regardless of stress. If you weaken an unstressed vowel you may change the meaning of the word, so be careful not to do this!

Although stress is less pronounced than it is in English, it is still present. The stress usually falls on the last syllable of a Guarani word. In the orthography we are using, an acute accent (like á) is used to mark a stressed syllable if it falls in a different position in a word.

Guarani Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Guarani words
   Guarani picture dictionary
   Guarani body
   The Guarani alphabet
   Tupi-Guarani language
   Guarani legends

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